National Identity Politics and Postcolonial Sovereignty Games
Greenland, Denmark, and the European Union
Distributed for Museum Tusculanum Press
Though it’s many miles away from tiny Denmark, Greenland is administered as an autonomous country within the Danish Realm. It’s a relationship that at first glance appears unusual, and, as Ulrik Pram Gad shows, that relationship is quietly predicated on a general assumption that Greenland is on a path toward eventual independence. In both nations, he shows, discussion of Greenland invokes the idea of the “community of the realm” while recognizing Greenland’s continuing reliance on aid as it moves toward independence. As climate change is beginning to open up new areas of Greenland to potentially profitable resource extraction, Greenland is increasingly imagining that sources other than Denmark can provide the assistance needed. Throw in the EU, which facilitates “sovereignty games” played to allow Greenland a surprising measure of independent agency, and the complexity of the overall situation becomes quite clear. Gad explores the issue through four lenses: discourse analysis to determine the core concepts of Danish and Greenlandic identity; a reading of political debates as identity politics; interviews with key actors; and analysis of legal texts as a frozen outcome of various sovereignty games. The book concludes with a series of scenarios for the slow motion decolonization of Greenland.