The University of Bergen in Norway is funding a study called ‘How Norway Made the World Whiter’ or ‘Norwhite’ to answer the pressing question of whether or not whiteness has historically helped white supremacy and “whiten the world”.
The question is approached from a historical perspective, looking at if and how the creation and widespread use of titanium white contributed to toxic views of race.
The New York Post reported:
Is whiteness racist? The University of Bergen in Norway is exploring that question, asking how the beauty of white has aided and abetted the nation’s white supremacy.[make] The world is white.”
“Whiteness is not only a cultural and social condition associated with skin color, privilege, and systemic exclusion, but also materializes everywhere around us,” reads the study’s abstract.
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“Although Norway was not a traditional colonial power, this project shows that the country has played an important role globally in establishing white as a superior color,” it said. “Until now, this story is little known to scholars and the public.”
Called Norwhite, the study of white and color examines the Norwegian-developed paint pigment titanium white through “historical, aesthetic and critical” lenses, determining how the color’s development led to “social transformation” and innovation. “For planetary effects.”
“The current Norwegian innovation is TiO2 [titanium dioxide] Present in literally every part of modern life… The primary research question is: What are the cultural and aesthetic changes induced by the titanium white and TiO2 surfaces – and how can the material and material within it conceptualize and make these changes visible?” the description asks.
The TiO2 website shares:
The research project “How Norway Made the World Whiter” (Norvaite) studies Norwegian innovation; White Pigment Titanium Dioxide focuses on how pigment transforms surfaces—in art, architecture, and design—through a historical, aesthetic, and critical lens. The primary research question is: What are the cultural and aesthetic changes evoked by titanium white and TiO2 surfaces – and how can the material and these changes be conceptualized and made visible? NorWhite connects challenging themes – whiteness, technological innovation and mass-exploitation of natural resources – in a single case study. The project does this through an interdisciplinary research design grounded in an original and creative humanities approach that merges art history and artistic research.
Whiteness is one of the major social and political concerns of today. Within and beyond the academy worldwide, acts of rebellion and regret attempt to deal with our racist past. In major works of whiteness studies within the history of art and architecture, whiteness is interpreted as cultural and visual structures of privilege. A new research project ‘How Norway Made the World Whiter’ (Norvaite) funded by the Research Council of Norway addresses the distinctly different battlegrounds for the politics of whiteness in art and architecture.
This project shows how Norway has played an important role globally in establishing white as a good color. However, until now, this story is little known to scholars and the general public. NorWhite connects challenging themes: whiteness, technological innovation and mass-exploitation of natural resources in a single case study. The research project studies the Norwegian innovations chemical compound titanium dioxide (TiO2) and the white pigment titanium white through a historical, aesthetic and critical lens – focusing on how the innovations transformed surfaces in art, architecture and design. Show how technological development has driven beauty and thereby social-transformation.