Paradoxical Spaces: Identity and Everyday Spatial Practice among Muslim Youth in Copenhagen, Denmark
AdvisorJones III, John P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWith increased Islamophobia across Europe, White Danish citizens' mistrust of Danish Muslim minorities has partially been focused on private schools with large Muslim populations. Politicians who argue for the increased regulation of private schools rely on the narrative that these schools foster a parallel society by preventing students from becoming fully integrated into society as a 'democratic citizen.' In this dissertation, I respond to these critiques by drawing on a year of fieldwork at a private high school founded by Turkish parents in Copenhagen, Denmark. Narratives from the school's students and parents illuminate not only why some parents choose private schools for their children but also how schooling influences the students' subject positions and their ability to navigate public space. Specifically, I argue that rather than produce a parallel society, private schools operate as what Gillian Rose (1993) calls a 'paradoxical space,' wherein subjects can position themselves as both the center and the margin. By allowing students the space to form their identity as a majority, they are empowered to grow up and engage society differently than those who have grown up with constant reminders of their minority status. In making this argument, I show how geographers can contribute to the growing use of intersectionality within the social sciences. I also point to the importance of space when unpacking how multiple axes of social division are in play, including how space produces different forms of inequality, and what this says about social structures of power in Denmark.
Degree ProgramGraduate College