Incompetent Parenting? Socialization and Racialization in the Nordic countries: Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway: A Critical Perspective

Rashmi Singla, Berta Vishnivetz, Pushpinder Syal

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review


This article is inspired by an Indian film from March 2023, Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway, based on a real-life woman named Sagarika Chakraborty Bhattacharya, described in her autobiography, The Journey of a Mother, 2022. The journey of a woman’s life through an emotionally challenging marriage, settling in Norway, a new country, and her children being taken away from her by the foreign government, and then the long fight to get her children back, is narrated in the book. Thus, the film centers on an immigrant Indian mother's battle against the Norwegian Foster Care System to get custody of her two under-five-year-old children. The article analyses her narrative combined with the Norwegian system's public coverage of the case, revealing different perceptions of parental socialization and family-related practices entailing racialization.
To comprehend the phenomenon of forced custody of immigrant children, the article sheds light on broad patterns in the Danish context; in 2022, 3501 cases of forced custody, 485 children under five -years. Among others, Møller & Skytte, 2004*, describe the complex problems and dilemmas that ethnic minority parents face when their children are placed outside the home. Furthermore, light is shed on parental understanding of socialization practices. Also, laws about custody are involved. Issues about the diverse practices of forced custody, racialization**, dehumanizing, and stigmatization, brutalization of childcare practices and/or protection of the children, the welfare system’s power, and immigrants’ (lack of) privileges are covered. Lastly, some ways forward are taken up, including the parents' voices and dialogues.
*Møller, S. & Skytte, M. (2004) Mit barn er anbragt: etniske minoritetsforældres fortællinger Socialforskningsinstituttet
** Racialization and Racism in Denmark , November 2023
Words: 247

Special  issue call

Race is a salientcategory of everyday life that plays a key role in understanding social andbiological reproduction. The racist realities of our present include, forexample, the premature births and deaths of racialized men, women, andnon-binary people; the racializing practices embedded in the architectures ofreproductive technologies, adoption, foster care, and the transnationalreproductive tissue industry; the international surveillance and control ofBlack, brown, and Indigenous reproduction; and the unequal ways migration,economic deprivation, and toxic exposures affect people’s ability to producechildren, make kin, and sustain family relationships.


While race has beentaken up as an analytic to explore reproduction elsewhere, much remains to beexamined concerning the reproduction of both race and racism in the Nordiccontext, including theFaroe Islands, Greenland, the Sápmi Nation, and the Aaland Islands. There is a stronghistorical idea of Nordic white homogeneity and egalitarianism that hasresulted in denial of the unequal practices that exist. In a Nordic region that is persistently described asegalitarian and exceptional, the white majoritarian population in particular,expresses persistent unease in talking about race, and prefers to maintain thestrong belief that structural racism does not exist here. Whilst the most explicit racialreferences and eugenic agendas in law and policy are now, for the most part,gone, race and racism are very much alive, sometimes perhaps in lessdiscernible ways in practices and conceptions. Race maintains an (absent) presence,and Nordic racist and colonial pasts haunt our welfarist presents.


Titel Special Issue in NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research : Race, racialization, and reproduction in the Nordic context
RedaktørerRiikka Homanen , Mwenza Blell, Ulrika Dahl
Antal sider14
Vol/bindRace, racialization, and reproduction in the Nordic context
Udgavespecial issue
ISBN (Trykt)ISSN: 0803-8740
ISBN (Elektronisk) ISSN: 1502-394X
StatusAfsendt - 23 jan. 2024


  • foster care
  • Indian diaspora
  • Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway
  • custody of her two under-five-year-old children.
  • different perceptions of parental socialization
  • family-related practices entailing racialization.
  • Eurocentrism

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