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The politics of identity in contemporary Denmark

Nicole Stokes-DuPass, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In Denmark, the public discourse says that "proper" integration entails the foreigner gaining a fundamental understanding of Danish history, language and culture. I argue that this narrative is at odds with the desire on the part of some foreigners to preserve their cultural identity while still achieving socio-economic assimilation. I also argue that the integration narrative represents a strong desire among many native Danes to hold on to fixed and traditional notions of what constitutes Danish identity. This desire also creates an invisible (but ever-present) barrier that holds many ethnics on the fringes of Danish society. Demark is in the midst of what Cem Özdemir (2008) aptly described as an "integration challenge," where these nations have a severe barrier preventing full integration of ethnic populations—an inability (or perhaps resistance) to view the immigrant or foreign national as a potential citizen with equal rights, protections and duties. The default position of the Danish government and the majority of its native population has been to define the immigrant or foreign national by his or her country or origin, color or religion and to construct Danish identity in opposition to the characteristics of "the other."

Subject Area

Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Stokes-DuPass, Nicole, "The politics of identity in contemporary Denmark" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3589186.