Eksotisk, farlig eller ønskværdig? Danskernes syn på „kineseren“ i årene 1896-1920
Exotic, perilous, or desirable? The Danes’ view on „the Chinese“ in the period 1896–1920
This article explores how the racialized figure of „the Chinese“ was articulated in Danish media and public debate in the period 1896–1920. Through an analysis of newspaper articles, commercials and cinema advertisements, supplemented with documents from state institutions and private organizations, five overall categories were established: „the Chinese“ as 1) exotic and exciting; 2) perilous and threatening on both individual and societal level and as an international power; 3) childish and careless and therefore in need of control; 4) a cheap, stable and desirable labor force that could benefit Danish trade and industry; and 5) as international diplomatic and commercial collaborators. These perceptions and articulations were often overlapping and dependent on specific context. „The Chinese“ never constituted an unambiguous category. Additionally, the article clarifies how different Danish stakeholders, inspired by similar international debates, discussed the possibility of importing Chinese people to work in Denmark’s agricultural and industrial sectors. However, these plans came to nothing, presumably due to logistical challenges and to the perception of „the Chinese“ as potentially problematic in political, economic and social matters.