The Mandatory Handshake in Danish Naturalisation Procedures: A Critical Race Studies Perspective

  • Anika Seemann
Keywords: racism, racialization, discrimination, Islamophobia, citizenship


This article examines the recent introduction of a mandatory handshake in Danish naturalisation procedures from the perspectives of ‘racism’ and ‘race discrimination’. Drawing upon Critical Race Theory, it employs a discursive, deconstructive and contextual analysis to uncover the racist underpinnings and effects of the handshake requirement. The article is divided into two main parts. Part I demonstrates why the handshake requirement needs to be understood as racism. The analysis focuses on three aspects of the handshake requirement: 1) the ‘racializing narratives’ drawn upon in the legislative process; 2) the motivations behind the legislation; and 3) the ways in which the handshake requirement manifests as racism in society. Part II assesses the relevance of this finding from the perspective of anti-discrimination law. It examines the discriminatory nature of the handshake, before discussing some of the shortcomings of current international and European law in relation to race discrimination. The article closes by discussing the importance of developing a more ‘race-aware’ approach to the law in European legal scholarship.