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Creating public space, creating ‘the public’: immigration politics and representation in two Copenhagen parks

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Contestations over immigration, citizenship, and belonging play out every day in urban public space. In this article we study the design processes and use of two Copenhagen parks, Superkilen and Mimersparken, to explore the creation of public space and the “public” in Denmark. Who is part of the Danish “public”? What right do immigrant residents have to shape public space and their neighborhoods? How are the boundaries of Danish national identity policed and contested in public space in Copenhagen? The Danish government has increasingly moved toward far-right anti-immigrant stances, even while Copenhagen promotes a multicultural vision of a diverse and cosmopolitan city. Superkilen and Mimersparken illustrate the shortcomings of Copenhagen’s multiculturalism: though Copenhagen celebrates immigration, it left little space for residents to make meaningful decisions as political actors. In the case of Superkilen and Mimersparken, designers’ stylized idea of immigration is more celebrated than the actual presence of immigrant residents.
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Keywords: Immigration politics; multiculturalism; public space; welfare state

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA 2: Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: October 21, 2019

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