Annual Concurrences Lecture on Nordic Colonialism, Linneaus University, Sweden

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'Postcolonial Denmark: Nation Narration in a Crisis-Ridden Europe'

The title of my lecture is the title of a forthcoming book, where I situate Denmark historically and contemporarily beyond its current discursively naturalised territorial enclosure. My presentation cannot do justice to the entire manuscript, so I will frame my argument in relation to three levels - the global, the European and the national. In the seminar that follows, where also Kristín Loftsdóttir will participate, we will open a discussion on how the regional - with an obvious emphasis on the Scandinavian/Nordic - can be located in relation to the broader questions raised by my lecture.

In relation to my three levels of engagements there is a temporal as well as a spatial dimension. Denmark globalised refers to the country's participation in the colonial project and will discuss how the different colonies are placed in relation to Denmark and to each other. I will argue here that the segregation of colonial histories (Greenland, Iceland, coastal Ghana, Tranquebar/Serampore/Nicobar Islands, Faroe Islands and the US Virgin Islands) in both Danish public discourse and in academia has contributed to a failure in Denmark in coming to terms with its past as colonial master and enslavement nation. I will also link the' global then' to a 'global now' and ask how we may understand the continuities and breaks between a colonial past and postcolonial present. Bearing in mind that many scholars in particular with affinity in the global south speak of colonialism as an unbroken continuity, preferring instead the term coloniality, signalling a condition, rather than a historical period with a continued aftermath.

The European level refers to my reading of current European scholarship brimming over with research that may broadly, following for example Gurminder Bhambra, be labelled as Postcolonial Europe. In this section of my presentation, I wish to touch upon some of the differences and overlaps between Postcolonial Denmark and postcolonial elsewheres, studiously avoiding references to the Nordic countries, because I would like to leave them to the seminar discussion.

Finally, I will look more specifically at the consequences for nation narration (Bhabha 1990, 2004) given the conclusions I have drawn from the above. This can be understood as the global 'domesticated' by the nation and it can be understood as Denmark closing ranks with Europe over Europe's externalised and internalised others. But it can also be understood as a call for a renewed conceptualisation of the nation that speaks more adequately to our times. Not merely as a utopian hope pitted against the rise of populism, but also as an actual indispensable and irrevocable belated adjustment to an inevitably postcolonised Europe.
Periode9 mar. 2017
Sted for afholdelseLinnéuniversitetet, Sverige
Grad af anerkendelseInternational