Greenlanders' sense of belonging in Denmark

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Philip Filtenborg Larsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
In this thesis I have researched in which ways Greenlanders’ participation at Kofoed’s Skole in Aalborg can play a role in relation to their sense of belonging. With a phenomenological approach to participant observation, I have found that there exist several aspects which can point towards a sense of belonging, however also a lack thereof. The four following categories were identified using structural analysis: (1) including communities, (2) equal relations, (3) the significance of humor and posi-tivity and (4) the significance of Greenlandic culture.
In relation to including communities it was found that aspects centered around the physical surroundings can play a role in creating a sense of belonging. Though there can exist excluding mechanisms regarding people who are not properly recognized as Greenlanders which in turn can decrease sense of belonging. Furthermore, humor plays a role in the inclusion of people which can create a sense of belonging for both parties. Practices of inclusion are generally prevalent at Kofoed’s Skole, however certain barriers for equal participation were identified which involve Greenlandic language capabilities. Lastly, it was found that embodied elements during activities could facilitate vulnerability which can be related to belonging through recognition and feelings of safety.
For the theme equal relations, it was found that a sense of agency regarding place and the surroundings of Kofoed’s Skole were important in creating a sense of be-longing. Regarding the significance of humor and positivity there were mixed results for the facilitation of belonging. Humor could act as a counterweight for difficult and serious matters, but on the other hand an exaggerated positive attitude could be grounds for an escape of dealing with these serious matters. In connection with this, humor and positivity are heavily context dependent in relation to whether they can facilitate a sense of belonging or not. Regarding the last theme, it was found that the Greenlandic surroundings and cultural elements plays a big part in creating sense of belonging. In the same vein, there seem to be embodied elements of interaction at Kofoed’s Skole which can play a part in belonging. Lastly, acts of recognition seem to be central in relation to the Greenlanders’ sense of belonging, which can be seen as a contrast to the remaining society.
Furthermore, a significant finding in this thesis was regarding equal relations where my theoretical outline, around embodied belonging, had difficulty explaining why a sense of belonging could be facilitated in an environment with seemingly uneven power relations. Despite this, my theoretical outline showed analytical potential when it came to understanding various aspects of my participant observations. In relation to this, my phenomenological pairing with participant observation seemed to allow me to approach the lifeworld of the Greenlanders by spending time with them in activity and conversation.
Publication date30 May 2022
Number of pages48
ID: 471662877