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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Superkilen : Coloniality, citizenship, and border politics

Yigit Turan, Burcu


This chapter explores the relationship between the design of Superkilen—a public park project located in the socially diverse neighbourhood of Nørrebro, Mjölnerparken, Copenhagen—and Denmark’s coloniality, nation-building myths, and border and citizenship politics. The park was collaboratively designed by BIG Architects (Copenhagen, Denmark), Topotek 1 Landscape Architecture (Berlin, Germany), and Superflex Art Consultancy (Copenhagen, Denmark) between 2009 and 2010, and it was opened in June 2012 after a two-year implementation period. The official narrative of the project’s contribution to tolerance, social diversity, belonging, integration, social and cultural values, and democracy in one of Denmark’s most diverse areas has been taken for granted among both academic and professional circles in the architecture and the design realm both nationally and internationally. This chapter deconstructs the designers’ narrative of the Superkilen project, contextualizing the physical, conceptual, and social elements of the project and relating it to larger political questions around colonialism, exclusionary nation-building, and citizenship politics in Danish society. To that end, the discussion includes a relational reading of geo/biopolitics across scales and dimensions through the lenses of border theory, decolonial thought, and citizenship studies, which offer a different story of Superkilen. This theoretical framework provides a rendering of how design reanimates colonialist bordering dynamics, which becomes insidiously infused into the urban social experiences of the postcolonial/neocolonial diaspora, keeping them at the margins of society through processes of material, spatial, and social dispossession. Consequently, this piece attempts to unveil the complicity of the project in the ‘colonial’ and ‘capitalist’ politics of belonging and citizenship making, which downgrades or suspends citizenship for certain populations. It also reflects on the possibilities for anti-colonial, anti-racist urban planning and design.

Published in

Book title: Landscape Citizenships : Ecological, Watershed and Bioregional Citizenships
ISBN: 978-0-367-47883-4, eISBN: 978-1-003-03716-3
Publisher: Routledge

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)