Thisted, K. (2022). Blame, Shame, and Atonement: Greenlandic Responses to Racialized Discourses about Greenlanders and Danes. Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.5070/C81258339
Outside Greenland, many believe that the Greenlandic name for Greenland means “Land of the People.” However, the Greenlandic word for human being or person is inuk (plural: inuit), and Greenland is called Kalaallit Nunaat not Inuit Nunaat. Kalaallit is the West Greenlandic term for modern-day Greenlanders who trace their ancestry along two lines: to the Inuit in the West and the Scandinavians in the East. During the first half of the twentieth century, this mixed ancestry was an important argument for the Greenlandic claim for recognition and equality. This article examines a literary source, Pavia Petersen’s 1944 novel, Niuvertorutsip pania (The outpost manager’s daughter). The novel’s female protagonist, who is of mixed ancestry, is staged as a national symbol for modern Greenland, a country that appropriates European culture while remaining Greenlandic. After the end of the colonial period, the Inuit legacy and Greenlanders’ status as an Indigenous people became important drivers of the Greenlandic claim for independence. In present-day Greenlandic film and literature, Danes are often left out of the story entirely, delegitimizing much of society’s genetic and cultural legacy. Naturally, this poses a problem for the Greenlanders who not only number Europeans among their remote ancestors but also live with a dual identity, with one Danish and one Greenlandic parent. This article illustrates that the notion of “mixed-breed” or “half” Greenlanders is currently regarded with such ambivalent feelings because it accentuates unresolved tensions among the ethnic groups, including the continued dominance of the outdated (colonial) affective economies in Danish-Greenlandic relations.