3: Jackets and Jewellery: Racialised Dispossession and Struggles over Public Space in Denmark

This chapter considers how processes of dispossession are at the centre of contemporary struggles over public space, rights and political belonging, which refugees often become subject to and part of upon their arrival to a country of supposed refuge. In the midst of the recent ‘European refugee crisis’, the Danish government introduced a new law which enabled the Danish state to carry out a search-and-seize order on newly arrived refugees, seizing refugees’ cash, jewellery, electronics and other personal belongings. While this law might be seen as an exception to the humanitarian reception of refugees, I argue that we need to consider how processes of dispossession are at play within Western states’ treatment of refugees and racialised migrants more broadly. In this chapter, I examine dispossession as it relates to racialised youth (including refugees and migrants) in Denmark, focusing on the Danish Prime Minister’s most recent call to confiscate expensive down jackets, watches and mobile phones from so-called ‘indvandrerdrenge’ (immigrant boys) who are deemed to create insecurity in public spaces. Drawing on the analytic of dispossession, I show how processes of gendered and racialised othering are both discursively and materially constituted.

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