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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

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Apr 26, 2018

As headlines blur and death tolls rise, it can become difficult to maintain a human perspective on the impact of military conflict on lives of individuals and families in war-torn regions. To reconnect with this human perspective we turn to figures such as acclaimed Norwegian journalist Åsne Seierstad, known for her deeply incisive accounts of everyday living conditions in active warzones. She took our stage to tell the story of a family of Somali immigrants in Norway whose two teenage daughters vanish and travel to Syria to aid the Islamic State. Seierstad was joined in conversation with UW Department of Scandinavian Studies Chair Andrew Nestingen.

Together, the pair discussed excerpts from Seierstad’s book Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey into the Syrian Jihad. Seierstad gave an account of the sisters’ journey from secular, social democratic Norway to the front lines of the war in Syria, and follows their father’s harrowing attempt to find them. Putting the problem of radicalization into painfully human terms, Seierstad shared the realities of the Syrian civil war through the story of a father risking his life and refusing to let his daughters disappear into the maelstrom―even after they marry ISIS fighters. Join Seierstad and Nestingen for a sobering, true account of a family’s crisis enfolding profound lessons about belief, extremism, and the meaning of devotion.

Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent. She is the author of One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway―and Its Aftermath, The Bookseller of Kabul, One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War, and With Their Backs to the World: Portraits of Serbia.

Andrew Nestingen is the Chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. He is the author of several books, including The Cinema of Aki Kaurismäki: Contrarian Stories, and Transnational Cinema in a Global North: Nordic Cinema in Transition. He has written articles on Aki Kaurismäki, Stieg Larsson, Leena Lehtolainen, Henning Mankell, Finnish cinema, Nordic cinema, and film authorship, among other topics. He is associate editor of the Journal of Scandinavian Cinema and review editor of Scandinavian Studies.

Recorded live at Rainier Arts Center by Town Hall Seattle on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.