"Identity Danish Modern" Trampoline House and the Prototyping of an Inclusive Denmark



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Located in inner city Copenhagen is Trampoline House: a non-governmental, member-driven culture house that aims to bring together refugees, mostly Muslim males, and other residents of Denmark, for the purpose of modeling an inter-cultural Denmark for the future. Against integrationist models that focus exclusively on immigrant socialization and identity (e.g., Maja Hojer Bruun [2011]. Marianne Holm Pederson [2012], and Marianne Gullestaad [1989]), this thesis argues that identity-making at Trampoline House is transformative for all members – Danish and immigrant alike. Methodologically, my ethnography is shaped by my own subject position as a visibly Muslim woman of mixed Danish and Syrian parentage, and Trampoline House volunteer. Taking up the work of a cleaner for the house, I could reduce my visibility for approaching members concerning their lived experience and view of the project. This produced the key questions of the study: How does Trampoline House approach transitioning immigrants into Danish society – without feeding into the assimilationist discourse of mainstream immigration policy? What are the challenges to this project’s potential, from the members’ points of view? How do different members open space for themselves – within the “safe zone” of the cultural house, and beyond its walls? It is significant in this regard that Trampoline House is located in an ethnically mixed urban neighborhood, allowing for a greater concentration of cultural differences than is typically visible on Main Street Copenhagen. From inside this ethnically marked microcosm of urban Denmark, Trampoline House can be understood to perform a dynamic “third place” of Danishness for members who actively participate in the House. On one level, the house can be seen as an installation site for crafting a “fluid” inter-ethnic community (Bauman 2013); on another level, it offers a space for rehearsing a future that is mobility-friendly in social terms for all. In short, as a community always in the making which extends to Danish volunteers and staff who are themselves multi-sited citizens, and who are often in transition in their own lives, the House is an experiment in what I am calling a new Danish modernness for an unstable future.


Awarded High Honors in Anthropology. Selected for Phi Beta Kappa Prize.


Denmark, Integration, Assimilation, Socialization, Identity, Copenhagen, Danish, Refugee, Danish Modern, Globalization, Inclusive