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UTENRIKS-Internasjonale forhold - utenriks- og sikkerhetspolitikk og norske interesser

Mitigating Perceived Threats in Russian and Norwegian Public Discourse

Alternative title: Trusler i russisk og norsk offentlig diskurs

Awarded: NOK 11.9 mill.

THREAT-DEFUSER explores the role of "soft" information strategies propagated through mass and social media that can be used in hybrid warfare. We investigate Norwegian perceptions of Russia, as well as Russian perceptions of Norway, in the context of Norwegian national security. THREAT-DEFUSER is a multi-disciplinary project that combines state-of-the-art tools from political science, linguistics and media studies to forge new methodologies. Whereas academic disciplines tend to be disproportionately focused on the English-speaking world, THREAT-DEFUSER breaks away from that narrow view and focuses instead on Russian and two official languages in Norway: Norwegian and North Saami. Three cultural perspectives are opened up: 1) a major international language, since Russian is the second most-used language on the Internet; 2) a majority national language (Norwegian); 3) a minority indigenous language (North Saami). The tools created by THREAT-DEFUSER are portable to other languages, cultures, and domains, and will be shared open source with the international research community. THREAT-DEFUSER actively disseminates research findings to political authorities (via evidence briefs and closed workshops), to academics (via high-quality open access scholarly journals), and to the public at large through a dedicated, regularly updated website, podcasts, school visits and an app that facilitates rapid response to the dynamic landscape of news and social media. THREAT-DEFUSER assesses Russia's increasingly important role in matters of foreign and security policy, particularly with regard to hybrid warfare. The same tools are implemented also to analyze Russian attitudes to Europe that have a direct bearing on Norwegian-Russian relations. Since the beginning of the project the following results have been achieved (activities that have involved our partners at Univerzita Karlova (UK), NUPI, and UTSYN are noted): - two PhD students have been hired and begun work on the project - a third PhD student (financed by UiT) has been hired and began in October 2021 - set up our project website:, which also lists many results and meeting notes, etc. (UK, NUPI) - created a Norway Media Search Engine capturing the relatedness of Norwegian media sources (UK; documentation forthcoming): - monthly meetings of the entire project team (UK, NUPI) - 1 Kick-off workshop, 1 workshop on Araneum corpora, and 4 workshops (UK, NUPI) - 124 publications and research results are attributed to this project: Scholarly articles (2), Op-ed pieces (20), Letters to the Editor (5), Interviews in periodicals (1), Scientific articles (2), Scholarly lectures (23), Scientific lectures (9), Popular science lectures (3), Poster (2), Scholarly Conference proceedings (3), Participation in programs (13), Interviews (41)

THREAT-DEFUSER increases Norwegian capacity to address challenges of hybrid warfare in relation to Norway’s biggest neighbor: Russia. We combine linguistic analysis of the big data of language corpora and path-breaking techniques developed in the Czech Republic with social science approaches such as document, discourse, and intersectional analyses of how language is gendered, racialized, and classed to trigger emotional reactions in populations and exacerbate conflict cleavages in societies. THREAT-DEFUSER integrates these methods to develop tools of analysis for Russian, North Saami, and Norwegian media. Using quantitative analysis of digitally networked communication and reassessing the acquired data through qualitative approaches, THREAT-DEFUSER identifies the role of disinformation in technologically facilitated dynamics of radicalization. We determine the function and possible effects of these dynamics in contemporary hybrid warfare, and develop concrete evidence-based recommendations for reduced vulnerability and increased resilience of societies and political systems in relation to such incursions. Work Package (WP) 1 addresses the language of threats through the lenses of previous scholarship, multi-million/billion-word corpora representing North Saami, Norwegian, and Russian. In WP 2, target texts describing threats are extracted from TV, radio, and Internet portals representing the range of possible news sources, and these texts are analyzed for significant differences from normative language in corpora via Keyword/Keymorph Analysis. Media connectivity is the topic of WP3, which assesses the extent to which media sources are interconnected or mutually isolated. WP4 synthesizes the results from WP2-3 and produces qualitative data sets on actual behavior. WP5 provides a website, podcasts and the NewsRadar app to give citizens access to ratings of news sources, plus scholarly articles and evidence briefs.

Publications from Cristin

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UTENRIKS-Internasjonale forhold - utenriks- og sikkerhetspolitikk og norske interesser