A Postcolonial Inquiry into Danish Politics of Displacement

In this lecture assistant professor, Martin Lemberg-Pedersen from Global Refugee Studies at AAU talks about his new project “Spaces, Borders, Bodies. A Postcolonial Inquiry into Danish Politics of Displacement” which examines continuities and ruptures between current and colonial Danish border and displacement politics.

He asks that we train our eyes to difficult questions about the systemic and cyclical features behind the production of displacement and re-displacement, which plague contemporary global politics and point to the need to interrogate the political, economic and cultural processes behind it. Far from static lines in the sand, which contain homogenous populations of neatly arranged nation states, the concept of the border can be treated as a prism, by which the intersecting dynamics between migratory movements, capitalist transformations and political and cultural processes can be unravelled

The lecture proceeds to sketch the unrealized potential in approaching these questions from the perspective of histories of displacement, thereby disentangling the almost perpetual mode of emergency, within which such politics seem to be placed. However, it is also pointed out that the few historical inquiries into a displacement that exist, still exclude the histories of the phenomenon in non-European and colonial contexts. In other words: Both race and history seem to be a problem for refugee and forced migration studies, a point that applies even stronger to the limited Danish literature in migration studies.

To address this research gap, Lemberg-Pedersen´s project performs a genealogical analysis of politics back to the transatlantic slave trade, exports and commodities chains, with a starting point in Danish colonial rule as it unfolded, in the Danish Gold Coast (today Ghana) and the Danish West Indies (today US Virgin Islands), and Copenhagen. This provides a backdrop through which past and present phenomena like racialization, labour exploitation, boat refugees, biometric technologies and in general the relations between displacement and territorial and maritime geographies have been manifested. This also offers the possibility of a historically informed problematization of present European politics on displacement and border control.

Everyone is welcome!