Lundsteen, Martin, Displacing the Other to Unite the Nation: The Parallel Society Legislation in Denmark, European Urban and Regional Studies, 2023.
In 2018, the then right-wing government in Denmark led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen and supported by the extreme right-wing party Danish People’s Party presented new legislation to end ‘parallel societies’ in Denmark by toughening the criminal law, enforcing Danish knowledge and nursery school assistance to toddlers, and, more importantly for this article, a series of urban interventions in ‘ghetto areas’ considered as such mainly when the proportion of immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries exceeded 50 per cent. Until recently research has focused on either the discursive elements of the ‘ghetto politics’ in Denmark or the urban interventions from an architectural or urban planning point of view. However, newfangled research deal with the entwined economic elements. In this article, I compare the different developmental plans proposed in the affected areas because of the legislation, with an aim to reach further and point at the inherent elements of urban b/ordering, that is, measures taken to attain social order and gain legitimacy by demarcating categories of people to incorporate some and exclude others through urban space. Indeed, through this comparison, I conclude that the ghetto legislation is a compelling example of the urban b/ordering inherent to the politics and dynamics of current liberal capitalist social democracies. It is a social experiment that remodels the geography of Denmark in terms that recall the eugenic and hygienic social and urban policies of the 19th century and form part of a worrying pattern that may have consequences that go beyond the stated ones.