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Greenland isn’t Denmark’s to sell: some essential reading for Trump on colonialism

Summary:
Prof Felicity Jensz of University of Münster in this piece reminds Trump that Greenland is not Denmark’s to sell. And decision to purchase Greenland would have to be agreed upon by Greenlanders and nobody else. The piece is both a history of American colonialism and Greenland’s fight for independent region: Trump believes he can simply purchase Greenland from Denmark. Put bluntly, this is impossible, although the mistake is perhaps an easy one to make for someone with a colonial era mindset and only a passing familiarity with the region. For the last two centuries, Greenland has predominately been a Danish colony, and, as the example of Alaska demonstrates, colonies were often sold and exchanged by imperial powers. Truman’s offer in 1946 was when Greenland was a Danish colony.

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Prof Felicity Jensz of University of Münster in this piece reminds Trump that Greenland is not Denmark’s to sell. And decision to purchase Greenland would have to be agreed upon by Greenlanders and nobody else.

The piece is both a history of American colonialism and Greenland’s fight for independent region:

Trump believes he can simply purchase Greenland from Denmark. Put bluntly, this is impossible, although the mistake is perhaps an easy one to make for someone with a colonial era mindset and only a passing familiarity with the region.

For the last two centuries, Greenland has predominately been a Danish colony, and, as the example of Alaska demonstrates, colonies were often sold and exchanged by imperial powers. Truman’s offer in 1946 was when Greenland was a Danish colony.

Leaving aside its Viking past, the colonial period for Greenland began in 1721, when the Danish-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede established a mission and began trading near present-day Nuuk, placing Greenland under joint control of the Dano-Norwegian monarchy. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Greenland became a sole colony under Denmark.

It remained a Danish colony until 1953, after a referendum sparked by Danish discomfort with the United Nations’ oversight of the relationship between Denmark and Greenlanders. Greenland was formally incorporated into the Danish Realm as an autonomous territory without consultation with Greenlanders.

The reality was that Greenland was still a colony in all but name.

Greenlanders continued striving for political recognition and autonomy from their former colonisers. The Greenland Home Rule Act in 1979 in was a step towards this autonomy, establishing Greenland’s own parliament and further sovereignty.

In 2008, the country hosted a referendum to support or oppose the Greenland Self-Government Act. Passing with 75% of the vote, it declared Greenlanders are a distinct people within the Danish Realm.

Politically, this placed the Greenlandic parliament on an equal basis with the Danish parliament – although this relationship is not always an easy one. Some aspects of Greenland’s politics are still under Danish control, such as foreign policy, security and international agreements.

But under the current laws, Greenlanders have the right to self-determination, and any agreement to purchase Greenland – no matter who made it – would have to be agreed upon by Greenlanders.

Superb bit.

In another piece, Goldie Osuri of University of Warwick writes how Kashmiris are living a long nightmare of Indian colonialism.

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Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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