“I want to make Denmark unattractive for asylum seekers”: On Policies of Migration and Asylum in Denmark


Radio Feature on Danish Asylum Policy by Jana Sinram

Cross-post with our partner blog Humanitarianism & Human Rights

Since 2015, Denmark’s conservative-liberal government has tightened immigration laws 89 times. Denmark has minimised the financial allowance for asylum seekers, made family reunifications almost impossible for refugees under temporary protection and suspended the admittance of UN quota refugees. “I want to make Denmark unattractive for asylum seekers”, says minister of Integration Inger Støjberg. Now, prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has introduced a plan to deport rejected asylum seekers to centers outside the EU. Continue reading

European Memory: Universalising the Past?

A new special issue of the European Review of History, edited by Friedemann Pestel, Rieke Trimçev, Gregor Feindt, and Félix Krawatzek.

European Memory has become an omnipresent phenomenon of our times. Both scholarship and the public sphere frequently refer to the European quality of something past or a specifically European way of remembering. It is, however, especially in Europe’s present crisis that these discussions on European memory reveal conflicts and a broad, often contradictory meaning of ‘Europe’. Practices of universalising the past are central to these conflicts and allow for an in-depth understanding of European Memory.

Invoking ‘European memory’ promises to overcome such conflicts by acknowledging difference and relating particular memories to other memories, i.e. those of different experiences or those of different people. This process of universalizing memory reduces difference, omits contexts, and eventually diffuses conflicts. To confront this bias, future research needs to employ an understanding of European Memory as a discursive reality rather than a normative ideal. In a new special issue of the European Review of History recently published, we – Friedemann Pestel, Rieke Trimçev, Gregor Feindt, and Félix Krawatzek – have taken up this challenge and confronted our discursive approach towards ‘European Memory’ with a set of empirical examples, ranging from the early modern memory of ‘Turk’, Versailles and French May 1968 to the massacre of  Srebrenica. This blog post outlines ideas and central findings from the Special Issue ‘European Memory: Universalising the Past?’. Continue reading

Writing a Contemporary History of Poland Beyond Totalitarianism: Some Remarks from a Postcolonial Perspective

The Polish sociologist Zdzisław Krasnodębski considers Poland a postcolonial country and often employs the postcolonial as a concept to argue for understanding Polish history in terms of oppression and resistance. Postcolonial studies have influenced historians studying the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe for years and yet, this transfer of a theoretical framework calls for some critical remarks. Postcolonial theory can inspire the study of post-war Poland, but it needs to move beyond an epistemology of totalitarianism.

Man standing in front of the Gdańsk shipyard. The former sign at the gate naming the shipyard after Lenin has been removed, the banner calls for supporting the 1980 workers’ 21 demands.

Krasnodębski and many other conservative Polish intellectuals tell the story of Communism and Soviet hegemony as a colonial experience, to be followed by a period of coming to terms with this experience after 1989. Here, Polish history revolves around the too easy antagonism of the Communist regime (or władza) and a society that resisted the Communist takeover and the re-making of Poland after the Second World War. To underpin this dichotomy, both research and popular discourse describe the Communist regime as totalitarian which goes along with a simplistic focus on a small elite of Communist officials. In recent years, such narratives often make uses of postcolonialism and present a heroic history of resisting society and essentially unstained national identity. Following various and complex political conflicts in today’s Polish society, these conservative intellectuals denounce many oppositional protagonists as de facto Communists or collaborators. Such patterns of interpretation are in fact rather anticolonial than postcolonial. Like it or not, this anticolonial effect is the point of reference for present day historical research on Poland. Continue reading