Til bevillingsoversigt

Towards an Indigenous Institutionalism: The Representation of Greenlandic Interests in the Danish Folketing

Internationalisation Fellowships


This project analyzes the way in which representation of Greenlandic interests are carried out in the Folketing. Through semi-structured interviews with Greenlandic representatives elected since 1979, it studies the question of whether or not the Greenlandic representation in the Danish parliament is as equal as its legal form suggests. In particular, the project focuses on whether or not parliamentary formal and informal institutions benefit or prevent the equal representation of Greenlandic interests.

By use of the theoretical approach of feminist institutionalism, the project sets out to shed light on the Greenlandic case as well as to develop an indigenous institutionalism, which will facilitate the study of indigenous interest representation in national parliaments worldwide.


Among other measures, indigenous peoples’ self-determination is exercised through representation of indigenous interests in national parliaments. Although it is not yet very common, this type of representation is a model which is perceived as ideal by many indigenous peoples. However, to this date, research on this type of representation has primarily studied the historical route to democratic participation as well as its formal legal aspects.

As a result research may end up endorsing parliamentary arrangements that merely appear to provide equal representation of indigenous peoples’ interests, while actually passing on a colonial heritage. By focusing on the way in which Greenlandic interests are actually represented within the Folketing, this project remedies this gap in research.


The project applies semi-structural interviews with former Greenlandic representatives especially and Danish parties’ spokespersons on Greenland. It consists of four overall research frames, each of which holds separate research questions:

The first explores Greenlandic interests as well as the Greenlandic representatives’ political aims and strategies. The second establish actors, arenas and institutions that interview persons describe as relevant to the representation of Greenlandic interests within the Folketing. The third investigates, if parliamentary institutions facilitate or hinder the representative aims of the parliamentarians elected in Greenland, while the fourth sets out to formulate a theoretical framework for an indigenous institutionalism.


According to the internationally agreed upon norm, researchers have an obligation to involve the perspectives of the indigenous community as best they can, when addressing issues of importance to such a community. Moreover, researchers should be careful not to transfer external values, standards or stereotypes into their projects when these concern indigenous communities (the UN Declaration on Biological Diversity, UN 2010, Sec. 2, Art 5.).

The project ensures compliance with these norms by applying the perspectives of Greenlandic citizens as its guiding perspectives. In addition, a reference group that consists of former Greenlandic members of the Folketing as well as experts in the Greenlandic society has been sat up to ensure that the project incorporate these perspectives.