Encountering Foreignness – Nordic Perspectives since Eighteenth Century (ENFORE) is a Nordic network elaborating the concept of "foreignness" in a series of multidisciplinary exploratory workshops, financed by NOS-HS.

The key concept, "foreignness", is related to a more generic concept of "otherness". Studies on otherness – that is, on the perception of "we" vs. "others" based, e.g., on gender, ethnicity and class – have boomed ever since Edward Said’s classical Orientalism, directing the attention to relations between different cultures which may be geographically far apart from each other but can also as well exist in one and same place at the same time. Otherness is without doubt connected to most topical social and political issues, but as a research concept it has become quite problematic. On the one hand, it has become almost a cliché which is superficially and ambiguously repeated, and, on the other hand, it has a burden of ideological connotations.

The concept of foreignness is a promising, new approach to the complex field of otherness, cultural encounters and multiculturalism. It is a more restricted concept than otherness; it refers to something foreign, whether having a real or imagined connection with abroad. It can include connotations such as unfamiliar, exotic or strange, which may vary from one situation to another. Foreignness can be something actively produced (for instance to be consumed, exhibited or safely kept on a distance) or it can be strategically claimed or actively dissolved as a significant element of identities. This network will study foreignness in the Nordic context the advantages of which will be described under the following heading.

The group consists of historians, anthropologists and ethnologists, whose research time span stretches from the early modern time up to the present. Part of the scholars focus on foreignness experienced at home, whilst others mainly study Scandinavians abroad. The participants have studied, e.g. missionary work, world exhibitions, international tourism, port towns, minorities, immigrants/emigrants and consumer culture. A common basis is mobility – mobility of people, objects and ideas. The participants are using in their studies theoretical and methodological approaches derived from many disciplines such as museum and tourism studies, humanistic geography, art history and post-colonial studies. The intention is to further widen and diversify the theoretical discussion in the direction of history of senses, performance studies, gender studies and material culture studies.