Rytter, M. (2019) Writing against integration: Danish imaginaries of culture, race and belonging Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology Vol. 84(4): 678-697
The article addresses some of the problems related to the concept of integration, which has been used (and abused) in Denmark since the 1990s to discuss socio-economic, cultural and religious challenges related to the everyday life of ethnic minorities. The concept of integration is not innocent but promotes both a specific conceptualisation of Danish society and a problematisation of immigrant minorities and their relationship to the indigenous majority. Based on the ethnographic studies conducted in Denmark in recent decades, the article attempts to disentangle the dominant social imaginary by outlining three scenarios: ‘welfare reciprocity’, ‘host and guests’ and ‘the Danes as an indigenous people’. These scenarios consolidate an asymmetrical relationship between majorities and minorities because they simultaneously cast integration as desirable and impossible. Finally, inspired by Lila Abu-Lughod’s seminal article ‘writing against culture’, the article suggests strategies of ‘writing against integration’ in order to regain the critical potential of academic analysis. Read the article.