Category Archives: Borderland

The closing of Öresund – On borders, trains and state power

With the so-called “refugee crisis” and the terrorist attacks in Paris in Europe, several European countries have either reinstated border controls to their neighbors or are planning to do so.

One very particular case is the Danish-Swedish border-bridge which separates the Swedish city of Malmö (pop.: 300,000  +900,000 in surrounding area) from the Danish capital Copenhagen (pop.: 1.2 million + 1.3 million in surrounding area). Sweden has been a lot more open to hosting refugees than Denmark, but now Swedish authorities claim that they can take no more.

They will therefore starting fining transport companies that brings a person to Sweden without an ID on them. This means that the train companies operating across the border will have to create border checks on the Danish side. The move has been commented on as an outgrowth of traditional Danish-Swedish rivalry in the Economist and a Facebook campaign by commuters has attacked the decision for having been made from far away Stockholm, where they just don’t understand the reality of people living in the border region.

This seems to be the common way of looking at it: a central government taking measures it does not understand the consequences of to stop the country being overrun by refugees.

However, is that all there is to it?

Continue reading The closing of Öresund – On borders, trains and state power

Eat or kill — what to prefer?

This post was written almost two years ago now, in August 2006. Although the person mentioned apparently isn’t dead yet (or he wasn’t when I checked a few weeks ago), I now feel comfortable publishing it for technical reasons.

I just left Douglas, heading south, not really knowing if or when I will ever return.
My last stay in Douglas, AZ, has been a rather odd experience. For one thing, some people have read the book and reacted at least partially negative on some of my points. Specifically the fact that it is written in a Marxist framework is hard to understand for most probably.

However, even more odd is, I believe the fact that so many people have not reacted very much at all and that generally it seems as if not much has changed since I left last time.

One person stroke it rich though. Bicycle Peter (in the first edition of the book called “Bicycle Victor”) managed to receive around 82000USD in disability compensation. Those who have read the book might recall that Bicycle Peter is 77 years old and had been in the Korean War. From there he was relocated to Japan after an incident, and he met a prostitute, whom he grew to love and wanted to marry. Although that marriage never actually happened, he has since almost only been dating prostitutes across the line in Mexico.

But Peter has spent the money already. Part of it went into a new car (though no money is left for gas), some debts were paid, and the two houses of his girlfriend’s family in Chihuahua were fixed. “They are both big enough to put a small airplane in them,” Peter explains.

Bicycle Peter with his new car -- gas he cannot afford
Bicycle Peter with his new car — gas he cannot afford

Continue reading Eat or kill — what to prefer?

What is the Danish equivalent of the Koran?

No, it’s not that I don’t have a life and that I only write about and am concerned with issues relating to the usually very far away Danish minority in Germany and its mother country. While I have not been blogging for several months, I moved to Hackney in north eastern London with Petra (false name), who I met in Oaxaca (see posts from about a year ago) and I started MPhil/PhD studies at Goldsmiths College — quite a radicalizing change from the University of Oslo. In October, the print edition of the Norwegian Dagbladet also had a piece on me coordinating activists from Norway and Germany to come to a demonstration for the youth house Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen, while I was situated in Århus. I wrote notes in online communities such as and — one of my Norwegian comments on the current political situation in Denmark in Norwegian was translated to Danish by Espen Stegger Ledaal — and I supplied Katie, with whom I had been traveling in Central America, with enough data on the Danish welfare state model for a group presentation as part of her social woks master degree, that her professor said she was very lucky to have “a significant other” from Denmark… So yeah, I sure have been active, although I stopped writing here for a while.

It is actually quite easy to record patterns of behavior of those around me here, but they are anarchists and so a bit paranoid of having their stories published all over the Internet. Also there were some events in the last few months that were so close to me that I would be afraid of putting them out for everyone to see. So you will have to wait until I go somewhere else — like Nicaragua some time this spring/summer.

Nevertheless, every now and then I find the time to scan through the Danish minority paper Flensborg Avis.

The physical border line between Denmark and Germany consists of no more than symbolical markers in 2007. Nevertheless, maintaining "Danish culture" is still important to some.
The physical border line between Denmark and Germany consists of no more than symbolical markers in 2007. Nevertheless, maintaining “Danish culture” is still important to some.

Continue reading What is the Danish equivalent of the Koran?

Ethnicity based on economics

Last year (the article should soon be online at ) I pointed out that the various changes in border perception both at the Mexican/US and Danish/German border all have their economic underpinnings. National identity and ideology on either side are changing closely related to economic factors — even though national ideologies usually hold that their particular national ideology has not changed (or currently resembles a state that it was at before it somehow was changed towards the worse). Also, it is usually held that national allegiance lies above any economic factors.
I ended my article with predicting…
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Freezing in Berlin

Ok, so here it finally is: my posting on Berlin. I really wanted to write this after my first trip down there, but it simply did not happen. I was trying to convince myself that it was due to an overly large work load right now, but it might also just be cause I am a bit afraid to write about things that are too close to me. Anyways, as I already wrote in the last few posts, I went to Berlin twice this year already: the first time over New Years from Dec. 31st until January 5th, and the second time from last Thursday (the 12th or so) and then I took the bus to Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday (15th) and slept there at my grandmothers before I took the plane back to Oslo Monday morning – in order to be back for an English pedagogy course with obligatory attendance at noon.

Three South Schleswigans - One has moved to Copenhagen, DK, the others to Berlin
Three South Schleswigans – One has moved to Copenhagen, DK, the others to Berlin

So what was up with Berlin? Well, there are two groups that I know down there: on one side there are all my Danish minority friends from high school, and on the other, there are those I know through my activism in the youth organization [‘solid] (youth of the new Linkspartei). Now I’ve written about the two groups before, when I visited them last summer. Basically my activist friends are from East Germany (although not neccesarily Berlin), while my high school friends are from West Germany (on top of being Danish-like). Now you would of course imagine that to be a difference mainly of wealth, and yes, that probably has something to say – but not quite the way one would think. Let us try to look a bit at my “ethnic friends.”
Continue reading Freezing in Berlin

doing the “confused professor”

Ha! Finally I got my neighboor to speak again – at least a few sentences. The occasion this time was that I had forgotten a frozen pizza outside of our door in the hall way. “Is this yours?,” she asked – thereby breaking several weeks of silence. “Ehm… yes” – I had actually been looking for it for several minutes. She gave me the “you are freaking weird”-look while handing me the pizza. But of course that was not all cause the next thing was that she was about to enter the bathroom: “If you need to shower, just remove those,” I said while pointing at the five wet pink all-body suits that were hanging in the shower. Apparently that was no weirder than leaving a frozen pizza in the hall way, so she just said: “In fact, I do have to shower.” And after another few words exchanges she moved into the shower, putting away those pink suits.

Johannes Wilm on his knees
Johannes Wilm on his knees


Now of course, you might ask, why did I have five pink suits in my shower? And how do I communicate with my neighboor without using words? And why does the picture seem to be completely unrelated?

Continue reading doing the “confused professor”