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Between Facts and Fiction: Greenland and the Question of Sovereignty 1945–1954


  • Olesen Thorsten Borring

    () (Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)


This article presents and discusses how the issue of sovereignty in and over Greenland was handled in the triangular relationship between the United States, the Danish government and the Greenlandic population during the early phase of the Cold War between 1945 and 1954. It highlights the complexity, ambiguity and asymmetry in the status and role of Greenland in a period which saw great transformation. Thus, this was a period when the USA attempted to buy Greenland, but had to contend itself with a new defense agreement in 1951 to replace the agreement negotiated 10 years earlier during World War II. Still the new defense agreement seriously challenged Danish sovereignty over the island. It was also a period in which the relationship between Greenland and Denmark was reconfigured, at the time called a “modernization,” to counterbalance both awakening Greenlandic national sentiments and the anti-colonial agenda and limitations put in place by the newly formed United Nations. The article argues that these transformations must be linked to the fact that two grand historical trends or structural changes within global history intersected and converged on Greenland, namely the Cold War clash between East and West and the global move towards decolonization.

Suggested Citation

  • Olesen Thorsten Borring, 2013. "Between Facts and Fiction: Greenland and the Question of Sovereignty 1945–1954," New Global Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 117-128, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:nglost:v:7:y:2013:i:2:p:117-128:n:3

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