‘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 and Cultural Geography
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2020

Keywords

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

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