Postcolonial Denmark: Beyond the Rot of Colonialism?

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Abstract

This article begins by providing a brief overview of Danish colonial and imperial history in the tropics, the Arctic and the sub-Arctic. It discusses how Danish colonialism relates to a broader regional (Scandinavian/Nordic) and pan-European colonial history. From there it moves on to consider Denmark’s postcolonial condition, that is, identify issues in contemporary Denmark deriving from Danish (and European) colonialism’s aftermath. This unfinished business includes contemporary historiography of the migrant other in Danish society, refugee discourse in the public domain, the early stages of a reconciliation process with former colonies – reconciliation has been placed on the public agenda in both Greenland and the US Virgin Islands (formerly the Danish West Indies) - and the still unfolding process of Greenlandic and Faroese independence. The article maps out how the emerging dis-connections between Denmark and its former colonies are paradoxically juxtaposed with processes of reinforcement: The US Virgin Islands has emerged as an important tourist destination for Danes (more than 10,000 visitors each year). Ghana is one of the major recipients of Danish development aid. Major restoration programs are and have been conducted in all former Danish tropical colonies. In Greenland Denmark is using its sovereignty to boost its international status as part of the Arctic council, as a scientific power centre on Polar/Arctic research – not least in relation to climate change. The article concludes by looking at the critical approaches to Danish colonial history and its legacy in contemporary Danophone literature.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPostcolonial Studies
Vol/bind18
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)440-452
Antal sider13
ISSN1368-8790
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 3 jul. 2016

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