Retro Racism: Colonial ignorance and racialized affective consumption in Danish public culture

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Abstract

Racial representations on commodities in Danish supermarkets have been the subject of heated public debates about race and racism in recent years. Through an analysis of a 2014 media debate about the so-called ‘racist liquorice’, the article suggests that the fight for the right to consume racialized products sheds light on how ‘epistemologies of ignorance’ of race and colonialism operate in Denmark. Focusing on how questions of history, memory and nationhood feature in the media texts, the article introduces the concepts of retro racism and racialized affective consumption to capture the affective and historical dynamics at play in debates on racism in Denmark. While the former term points to how racism becomes positioned as something always already retrograde in a Danish context, the latter relates to how a rhetoric of pleasure and enjoyment gets mobilized in the sustaining of a whitewashed image of Danish national community.

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