This book is about Greenland’s rapidly changing role in the world and about it’s complex connections to Denmark, its former colonizer. It is about Greenland’s possible secession from the Kingdom of Denmark, oil, uranium and the difficulties that Greenlanders and Danes often have when they try to talk about their common past and Greenland’s place in the new, global future.
The first part of this book builds on my travels and encounters with Greenland’s politicians, fishermen, schoolteachers and intellectuals – including my old classmate from Maniitsoq, who became a very wise vicar in her hometown and now appears in chapter 3. Through all these conversations I learned just how dramatic the present wave of changes in Greenland are. Never before did I understand just how complex the desire for increased independence is, or how dramatic the clashes between old and new are, or how volcanic the debate over which path to choose for the future can be. An insight into these local discussions is surely a prerequisite if one wants to understand the broader discussion about Greenland’s future relations to Denmark and its changing role in the world.
The second part deals with hard-core politics – about mining and oil, and about the rest of the world’s – including China’s - interest in Greenland’s oil, gas, uranium, rare earths, gold and other riches. This part of the book grapples with the political in-fights in Greenland and with the power struggles between Denmark and Greenland over resources, foreign policy and identity. Legally, for half a century, Greenland has been part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but also increasingly a very self-conscious one of the sort.
My observations flow from my work as a journalist in Greenland and Denmark over the past years, where I worked for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and other media outlets. I am Danish, I lived only two years in Greenland as a teenager, but I have come there often in later years. My errand is not to forward any opinion on Greenland’s position as a part of the Danish realm, nor do I pass judgment on the popular vision of future secession. If anything, I hope to throw light on the complexities involved and to encourage more people to take part in this important debate by providing detail, real human beings, facts and observations from places that would, for most people outside Greenland, be somewhat cumbersome to reach.