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A modern mine?: Greenlandic media coverage on the mining community of Qullissat, western Greenland, 1942–1968
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies. (Arcum)
2018 (English)In: The Polar Journal, ISSN 2154-896X, E-ISSN 2154-8978, Vol. 8, no 1, p. 141-162Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the first half of the twentieth century, the coalmine of Qullissat on Disko Island in western Greenland was at the centre of visions of an industrial future for the then Danish dependency. The closure of the mine and resettlement of the community in 1972 was thus marked by confusion, and became a key event in the political development of modern Greenland. This qualitative study analyses the representation of Qullissat in two Greenlandic newspapers, Grønlandsposten and Atuagagdliutit/Grønlandsposten, between 1942 and 1968. It seeks to add a layer of understanding to the history of the mining community by drawing attention to the framing of Qullissat’s future in public discourse, using newspapers as a historical source. During the Second World War and well into the 1950s, media coverage of Qullissat focused on the modernisation measures initiated by the Danish mine management based on expert assessments. From the mid-1960s, however, the representations of Greenlandic workers as not matching modern industrial ideas created the impression of a community that was no longer viable in the postcolonial setting. In many respects, this media discourse reflects a perceived dichotomy between Denmark as a modern society, and Greenland as non-modern and dependent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2018. Vol. 8, no 1, p. 141-162
Keywords [en]
Greenland, Qullissat, media narrative, history of mining, modernisation, post-colonialism
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-142071DOI: 10.1080/2154896X.2018.1468620Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85051088042OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-142071DiVA, id: diva2:1158362
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form with title "A Modern Mine? Greenlandic media coverage of the Qullissat coal mine in Greenland, 1942-1968".

Available from: 2017-11-20 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2018-08-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Greenland's future: narratives of natural resource development in the 1900s until the 1960s
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Greenland's future: narratives of natural resource development in the 1900s until the 1960s
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis identifies and analyzes narratives of Greenland's future that emerged in the context of developing and modernizing the dependency's natural resources industries in the 1900s until the 1960s. After almost two centuries of Danish colonial rule, the turn of the 20th century witnessed a profound change in Greenland's governance. Although contested at first, the notion of cultural progress increasingly linked developing a modern industry to a productive economy under Danish auspices. Ideas of modernity that connected rationalities of the market with political power and science were unparalleled in the colonial discourse on Greenland's future. How were the development of Greenland's natural resource industries and its role in Danish governance debated? Which narratives emerged in this context? As the studies in this compilation thesis suggest, the rationalities of science, markets, and power became entangled in an unprecedented way during these decades, creating new ways to imagine Greenland's future.

The first paper analyzes the application of a private stakeholder group of Copenhagen's financial and economic elite for access to Greenland as a private, for-profit venture to extract and trade with the colony's living resources in 1905. The motif of an Arctic scramble was constructed through the authority of science, still resonating in the debate on rare earth mining today. The second paper identifies the business relationships between the group's members, connecting major Danish financial institutes and private economic interests in the late 19th and early 20th century. The third paper focuses on the commercialization of Greenlandic fisheries in the 1910s until the late 1920s and the fisheries scientist Adolf Severin Jensen (1866-1953). Jensen's work is an example of how applied sciences connected both scientific and political agendas, carried out in a colonial setting. The fourth paper focuses on the narrative analysis of (Danish-language) Greenlandic newspaper coverage of Qullissat between 1942 and 1968. Representations of the coal mine and nearby settlement on Greenland's west coast, which were closed down in 1972, are at the center of this study. While the coal mine was presented as a Danish success to establish an independent energy supply and to introduce modernization measures, it was presented as a Greenlandic failure to adapt to modern demands of economic productivity in the years leading up to its closure. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2017. p. 70
Keywords
Greenland, modernization, 20th-century history, colonial history, narrative, history of science and ideas
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History Of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-142073 (URN)978-91-7601-774-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, Hörsal F, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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