Refugee reception and pedagogical work with asylum-seeking and refugee children in Denmark

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Based on a systematic overview of Denmark’s asylum and immigration policy, it becomes clear how Denmark has consistently pursued different policies of deterrence with regard to refugees, in several instances serving as an inspiration for subsequent European and international development (Gammeltoft-Hansen 2017, 100). Policies which are defined as intending to discourage or prevent migrant and refugees from either arriving in the territory of a prospective destination or assessing its asylum system (ibid. 103). These policies cover a broad range of issues, including mandatory detention, limitations on family reunification, cuts to social benefits, and granting more temporary or subsidiary forms of protection, with fewer rights attached (ibid. 106).

In this paper, the aim is to illuminate how this broad range of restrictive policies is informing the professional work with asylum-seeking and refugee children. Since children in the asylum system are regarded as part of the family's unity and are not heard independently in asylum cases, such as for example in Norway (Vitus 2011, 147), I argue that children – along with their families – are in a position of permanent temporality; a position that at all together creates a dilemma among the professionals of either not to make applicants in the prospect of creating a future in Denmark or to express a concern for preparing them for a life as self-sufficient citizens in Denmark. As argued by the anthropologist Zachary Whyte, the functioning of the asylum and immigration system is ambiguous because it officially does express a concern for preparing applicants for a life in Denmark, but in reality, “the more powerful and concerted political will is directed at keeping the applicants at a distance, socially disconnected, so as to facilitate their possible deportation” (Whyte 2011, 21).

Gammelfoft-Hansen, T. 2017. Refugee policy as ‘negative nation branding’: the case of Denmark and the Nordics, In: Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook 2017, edited by Kristian Fisher and Hans Mouritzen, DIIS, Danish Institute of International Studies, 99-126.

Whyte, Z. 2011. Enter the myopticon. Uncertain surveillance in the Danish asylum system, Anthropology Today, 27(3), 18-21.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date5 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018
EventInternational Conference
School, migration, itinerancy: complementary perspectives
- INSHEA - 58-60 avenue des Landes, 92150 Suresnes, Suresnes, France
Duration: 5 Apr 20186 Apr 2018


ConferenceInternational Conference
School, migration, itinerancy: complementary perspectives
LocationINSHEA - 58-60 avenue des Landes, 92150 Suresnes

ID: 195226802