Annotation: Rytter, Mikkel. 2012. Semi-legal Family Life: Pakistani Couples in the Borderlands of Denmark and Sweden

Rytter, Mikkel. 2012. Semi-legal Family Life: Pakistani Couples in the Borderlands of Denmark and Sweden. Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs, 12(1): 91-108.

Rytter writes about strategies for family reunification implemented in the border regions of Denmark/Sweden present a picture of nation-states that heavily regulate immigration by imposing an immigration regime that places importance on the “requirement of national attachment.” Under the new Danish immigration laws that were first introduced in 2000, Danish-“alien” couples are supposed to prove themselves as “real” Danes, according to certain “kinship images” idealized and determined by the state. Through these “kinship images,” the state imposes on its citizens the idea of self-identification as a “tribe” different from the rest, and thus employs exclusionary practices that seek to maintain the purity of the “Family of Denmark.” Rytter uses David Scheider’s notions of the “order of nature” (i.e. kinship by blood ties) “order of law” (i.e. kinship by marriage, etc.), to suggest how Denmark classifies its citizens as “real” (i.e. with roots to the land) or “unreal” (i.e. residence as authorized by law). It is within these constraints that Danes took on two “kinning strategies,” namely, intermarriage and “technologies of the self.” Rytter cites Foucault’s term, “technologies of the self,” to describe practices that allow people to become closer to Denmark, such as temporarily living in Sweden as the foreign-born partner works on strengthening his/her “national attachment” to Denmark. In his more recent article, Rytter (2011), illustrates how this “semi-legal” border-crossing play is also used by couples of Pakistani origin to restructure their transnational relationships around the Danish immigration restrictions. Rytter article serves as a strong example of transnational relationships that are complicated by the technologies of the state.

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