"The Danes are an open and tolerant people, who help other people in need": Gender and integration in Danish political discourse

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Asmaa Abdol-Hamit entered Danish national politics in connection with the campaigns leading up to the parliamentary election in 2007. The turmoil surrounding her candidature for the small left-wing party "Enhedslisten" partly hinges on the role gender plays in political discourses on integration in Denmark. The emancipation of immigrant women and their daughters has, across the political spectrum, been set up as a noble purpose of integration policies and measures and to some extent also immigration regulations. Paradoxically, the women themselves have remained objects in these political debates. Asmaa Abdol-Hamit caused disturbance here as she moved into a speaking subject position. Continued efforts were, however, made to deny her that position - with reference to her alleged lack of integration in the Danish society, allegations resting heavily on the hijab she is wearing. Hence, she was - despite her Danish citizenship - not recognized as a legitimate political actor, and she was positioned on the (constitutive) outside of politics. Due to the universalizing effects of welfare-cum-national discourses, multiculturalism was never high on the political agenda in Denmark. The intersections of race, class and gender in politics have therefore provided a different outset for political struggles than has been the case in the UK and the US. In the paper I shall try to unpack how gendered othering and articulations of decency, modernity, liberation and Danishness work in the political debates over integration - and how Asmaa's candidature became located within these articulations.
Periode14 nov. 2008
BegivenhedstitelPost-Immigration Minorities, Religion and National Identities
ArrangørerUniversity of Bristol, University College London
PlaceringBristol, StorbritannienVis på kort