Hyphenated Voices: The Organization of Racialized Subjects in Contemporary Danish Public Debate

Jannick Friis Christensen, Sine N. Just, Sara Louise Muhr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Applying aconceptual framework of hyphenation, understood as the organization ofracialized subjects, this paper investigates rhetorical strategies for workingexisting hyphens as practiced within an Action Aid Denmark initiative to trainyoung people to become public opinion leaders in anti-discrimination matters.We identify three such rhetorical strategies: (1) Silencing: Racializedsubjects are organized by majority voices that speak of/for ‘the Other’; thetraining explicitly seeks to change the organization of public debate byworking this hyphen. (2) Positioning: The main strategy for working the hyphen,as taught in the course, is to speak from a minority position, but in a mannerthat is recognizable to the majority. Thus, non-white participants are trainedto speak with white voice; they become exceptions to the rule, tokens or rolemodels when telling their stories in a scripted manner. And (3) Representing:In telling their own stories, the aspiring opinion leaders come to speak forracialized subjects as a group. Thus, the course (unwittingly) reproduces thecurrent racialized organization of public space in the form of ‘benigndiscrimination’. On the basis of this analysis, the article advancespostcolonial organization studies by demonstrating that hyphenation cannot beovercome, but must be engaged in a continuous process of re-working the hyphen.Thus, the task of researchers and practitioners alike is to show theconstraints of current hyphenations and find strategies for organizing subjectsin more equal and open relations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 26 October 2020.


  • Anti-discrimination training
  • Hyphenation
  • Postcolonial organization studies
  • Public debate
  • Racialization

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