The New Danish Women's movement & Sana

Julie Camille Bang, Maria Gerlif Pilegaard, Signe Halver & Caroline Lykke Stryhn

Student thesis: Bachelor project


This project aims to investigate the ways in which the character of Sana Bakkoush from the Norwegian television series ‘Skam’ was received and perceived by its Danish Muslim audience and specifically the women who call themselves ‘nydanske’ feminists. We sought to understand the power of popular culture and the influence that the representation of Muslim women in media have on creating an understanding of diversity among the aforementioned women. To examine this, we have chosen to apply the theories of critical theorist and law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw whose theory of intersectionality is central to the way in which we have conducted our analysis. Crenshaw explains intersectionality as an analytical tool that helps understand the complex connections and intersections of social categories such as race, gender and class, and how these links affect the way an individual is discriminated against. We chose this as the theoretical base for our project in order to try and understand the specific position that Muslim women inhabit as a minority in Scandinavia. Furthermore, we have included the theories of social anthropologist Richard Jenkins, specifically focusing on his social identity theory. Jenkins explains how identities, both individual and collective, are created in the interaction and relation between people.
With this project we sought to answer the question of whether the character of Sana creates a new image of Scandinavian Muslim women which is more diverse and can contrast the often reproduced image of Muslim women as victimised and oppressed. With this in mind we decided to separate our analysis into two sections where the first part focuses on the character of Sana and how she is presented on the show in order to understand what kind of impact she could have as a part of popular culture. This led to the second part of the analysis which focuses on the reception of the character of Sana by Danish Muslim women, both publicly outspoken feminist activists and everyday women.
Based on this analysis using the aforementioned theories, and our subsequent discussion of the possibilities of popular culture, we can conclude that opinions on whether Sana is a good representative and role model for Muslim women and girls are very divided. However, everyone seems to agree that it is a positive development to see a Muslim girl as a main character on a majorly popular series and that we need to see more diverse versions of this kind of character in the future. Popular culture can be used as a tool to move the collective understanding of minority women in a positive direction by representing them in nuanced and diverse ways. Based on our examination we believe that such a representation in popular culture has the ability to give these women more agency in the Danish women’s movement.

EducationsCultural Encounter, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Bachelor
Publication date27 May 2019
Number of pages83
SupervisorsTina Dransfeldt Christensen