Post-colonial governance through securitization? A narratological analysis of a securitization controversy in contemporary Danish and Greenlandic uranium policy

Rasmus Kjærgaard Rasmussen, Henrik Merkelsen


The complex constitutional relationship between Greenland and Denmark has had no clearer manifestation than the last decade’s juridical and political wranglings over the control for uranium. In the article, we argue that the quarrel between Nuuk and Copenhagen found in their diverging uranium policies can be seen as what we term a ’securitization controversy’. That is, a form of negotiating process which delicately postpones securitization proper due to the entangled role of the uranium issue in the independence debate. Through narrative analysis of contemporary Danish and Greenlandic government policy documents (2008-2016) we thus demonstrate how Greenlandic documents attempt to desecuritize risks pertinent to extraction of uranium and REE while Danish government papers seek to risikfy uranium in order to keep the issue open to future securitization. In the analysis, we further show how certain risks in the policy papers are connected and constitute a narrative conflict involving identity and sovereignty. We argue, that the controversy found at policy level in turn is the result of the underlying ‘sovereignty game’ in the constitutional relationship between the two countries. The article introduces a methodological framework for studying such securitization controversies drawing on risk analysis and narratology. We argue that in order to account for the entangled and narrative nature of the discursive movements in the policy texts, structural narratology can be a viable methodological alternative to the Copenhagen School’s preferred method of discourse analysis. 

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