Communal politics and religious difference in Denmark

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskning


Most scholars and lay observers alike see Copenhagen as "a pioneering municipality and a role-model for other municipalities with respect to diversity" in Denmark (Andersen et al 2014: 4). In 2014 the city itself has boasted that it had become the 3rd most inclusive city in Europe, according to the Intercultural cities index, and claimed it was well on its way to achieve its goal to become "the most inclusive metropolis in Europe" by the year 2015. That very same year, however, left-dominated Copenhagen municipality ended the decades-long cooperation agreement with the only Jewish nursery and preschool in Denmark, effectively forcing it to leave the public sphere and privatize. This came about as the municipality's Children and Youth Committee withdrew its previous willingness to accommodate the daycare's need for more closed days (due to Jewish holidays) than the officially permitted number. Drawing on document analysis related to the case and interviews with the main actors in the process, this paper examines the reasons for this turnaround against the background of both self-proclaimed "diversity mainstreaming" in the city and politicians' lingering concerns about minorities' parallel societies. We focus on how these actors, including dissenting politicians on municipal and national level in the process, articulate diversity, especially religious diversity, and modes of its governance both in the city and Danish society and nation more broadly. In understanding of the contestations about the incorporation of religious diversity into the "new Danish nation" we point in particular to the persisting legacies of equality thought of as sameness and paradoxical secularism, especially as they play out in the context of multiple and differently-size and positioned religious minorities that majority engages with.


KonferenceRoyal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers Annual Event
LokationUniversity of Cambridge

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