Ambiguity in urban belonging: Pakistani Copenhagen narratives

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Being a ‘stranger’ has become increasingly difficult on the European continent during the latest decades. Populist racism and anti-immigration attitudes have made life difficult, and Denmark has taken the position as one of the iconic cases of this development. But how is that reflected in the cities? Does the character of the city as ‘a world of strangers’ open up special possibilities of coexistence? These are the questions addressed in this paper using material from an interpretative analysis conducted among Copenhagen citizens of Pakistani origin. The analysis aims to construe an affective mapping of life as an ethnic minority in the city. It revolves around three issues. First, it focuses on the narrators’ experiences of exclusions and blockages in everyday life. This is followed by a focus on urban belonging emphasizing its differential character. Finally, the ambiguity of experiences is discussed, including the paradox that the experiences of estrangement apparently have only marginal influence on the possibility of belonging. The narrators simultaneously express strong emotions around exclusions and construe different creative ways of belonging to the city
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)522
Number of pages533
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • ethnic minorities
  • urban everyday life
  • Otherness
  • belonging

Cite this