Wren, Karen. ‘Cultural Racism: Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Social & Cultural Geography, vol. 2, no. 2, Jan. 2001, pp. 141–162. Taylor and Francis+NEJM,
Cultural racism has found fertile territory in a post-industrial Europe experiencing economic crisis and social disintegration, but its manifestations vary between countries. Denmark, a country traditionally regarded as liberal and tolerant, experienced a fundamental shift in attitude during the early 1980s that has seen it emerge potentially as one of the most racist countries in Europe. Paradoxically, liberal values are used as justification for negative representations of ‘others’. This paper examines the place-specific manifestations of cultural racism in Denmark, which can be identified as essentially anti-Muslim and anti-refugee. Through the use of interviews with minority women, newspaper extracts and material propagated by far-right organizations, the paper traces the evolution of this discourse, identifying its key actors as: specific far-right anti-immigration groups; the media; and a culturally deterministic academic research tradition. The subtle manifestation of cultural racism in Denmark, coupled with inadequate anti-racist opposition or legislation, have rendered it particularly damaging, and ‘legitimated’ a range of racist policies and practices.