Icelandic exceptionalism? Hospitality and integration in the Nordic countries
Stéphanie Barillé (University of Iceland)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the ambiguity of Iceland as a welcoming and safe space for migrants. Drawing on the notion of Nordic exceptionalism, it explores how individual and state mechanisms racialise and hierarchise migrant 'Others' and respond to various understandings of 'hospitality' and 'integration'
Paper long abstract:
This paper contends with the ambiguity of Iceland as a social space for migrants and migrant families, sometimes considered open and progressive, sometimes conservative and insular. The dialogue on migrants and refugees following the so-called "refugee crisis" of 2015-2016 has received a lot of media attention in Iceland and internationally and drawn attention to the existing divide between the apparent support of the local population towards migrants and refugees and prevailing state policies. Despite recent efforts to include migrants in Icelandic national narratives and discourses, the focus in societal debates on migration remains oriented towards including migrants in nation-states projects and ideals. The paper investigates how both the Nordic myth of homogeneity and exceptionalism render certain migrant groups in/visible through racialisation and hierarchisation processes in Icelandic society, and how it impacts politics of hospitality and integration.
The radical politics of alterity: towards a unified analysis of 'crisis', migration and the workings of power.