‘Diversity tourists’? Tracing whiteness through affective encounters with diversity in a gentrifying district in Copenhagen

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Abstract

This article develops the diversity tourist as an analytical figure to explore how middle-class whiteness emerges through encounters with racialized diversity in gentrifying urban space. Drawing on interviews with white middle-class Danish residents in Copenhagen’s Nordvest district, I examine how whiteness takes shape through affective ambivalence and negotiations of proximity and distance. My informants live in Nordvest, but see themselves as privileged tourists.
They perceive diverse Others as true locals whose presence not only stimulates and entertains them, but also facilitates self-development, increased awareness and inclusive pedagogy. Moreover, the local spaces and people of Nordvest represent a different or superior reality and promise an escape from white, gentrified Copenhagen. I collect these practices in the figure of the diversity tourist to show how a particular brand of Danish middle-class whiteness emerges through embracing diversity and reminiscing over one’s own privileges vis-à-vis racialized, less advantaged people and spaces. I examine how, despite
attempts at transcendence, this whiteness feels claustrophobic, finding itself in a limbo, trapped by its own gaze. The figure of diversity tourist contributes to studies of whiteness and gentrification, capturing how whiteness and intersectional privilege are enlaced in space and fueled by affective ambivalence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial & Cultural Geography
Volume23
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)578-597
Number of pages20
ISSN1464-9365
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Det Frie Forskningsråd [1319-00042B].

Keywords

  • whiteness
  • racialisation
  • Affect
  • Gentrification
  • diversity
  • commodification

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