Skip to main content Accessibility help

Nuuk underground: musical change and cosmopolitan nationalism in Greenland

  • Andreas Otte (a1)


In Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, there have been a significant number of musical events in recent years that have been called ‘underground’. These have formed an underground scene that offered a cosmopolitan alternative to established ‘greenlandificated’ popular music. This paper accounts for the building of this underground scene by Nuuk youth, and asks why these young people valued musical change informed by a cosmopolitan outlook, while at the same time holding firmly to the conviction that their activities were a part of the dominant Greenlandic nation-building project. Social agents, which played key roles in building the Nuuk underground scene, described their activities as attempts to come to terms with a history in which Greenland has been perceived as a subaltern nation. This enquiry explains the nationalist logic behind a concern with performing similarity with Western nations in the Nuuk underground scene, as opposed to the more widespread romantic nationalist logic concerned with expressing a distinguishable national character. This further leads to an expansion of a position of cosmopolitan nationalism.



Hide All
Alsman. 2012. Interview conducted by Alsman, 14 May
Appadurai, A. 1990. ‘Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy’, Theory, Culture & Society, 7/2, pp. 295310
Baily, J. 1994. ‘The role of music in the creation of an Afghan national identity, 1923–73’, In Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place, ed. Stokes, M. (Oxford, Berg), pp. 4560
Beck, U. 2006. Cosmopolitan Vision (Cambridge, Polity Press)
Bjørst, L.R. 2008. En anden verden: Fordomme og stereotyper om Grønland og Arktis (Copenhagen, BIOS)
Bohlman, P.V. 2011. Music, Nationalism, and the Making of the New Europe, 2nd edn (New York, Routledge)
Bornhøft. 2012. Interview conducted by Bornhøft, 16 May
Cohen, S. 1999. ‘Scenes’, In Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, ed. Horner, B. and Swiss, T. (Oxford, Blackwell), pp. 239–50
Fonarow, W. 2006. Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music (Middletown, CT, Wesleyan University Press)
Gad, U.P. 2009. ‘Post-colonial identity in Greenland? When the empire dichotomizes back – bring politics back in’, Journal of Language and Politics, 8/1, pp. 136–58
Geertz, C. 1994. ‘Primordial and civic ties’, In Nationalism, ed. Hutchinson, J. and Smith, A.D. (Oxford, Oxford University Press), pp. 2934
Haenfler, R. 2010. Goths, Gamers, & Grrrls: Deviance and Youth Subcultures (Oxford, Oxford University Press)
Hastrup, K. 2004. Kultur: Det fleksible fællesskab (Århus, Århus Universitetsforlag)
Heinrich, J. 2012. Eske Brun og det moderne Grønlands tilblivelse (Nuuk, Forlaget Atuagkat)
Held, D. 2003. ‘From executive to cosmopolitan multilateralism’, In Taming Globalization: Frontiers of Governance, ed. Held, D. and Koenig-Archibugi, M. (Oxford, Polity Press), pp. 160–86
Holton, R.J. 2009. Cosmopolitanisms: New Thinking and New Directions (New York, Palgrave Macmillan)
Johansen, B.A. 1991. ‘Musikken i Grønland – Hvorfra, hvorhen?’, Master's thesis (Aalborg, Aalborg University)
King, A. 2004. The Structure of Social Theory (London, Routledge)
Langgård, K. 2011. ‘Greenlandic literature from colonial times to self-government’, In From Oral Tradition to Rap, ed. Langgård, K. and Thisted, K. (Nuuk, Ilisimatusarfik/Forlaget Atuagkat), pp. 119–88
Ligaard. 2012. Interview conducted by Ligaard, 20 May
Lynge, A. 1989. Trehundrede år efter (Nuuk, Atuakkiorfik)
Lynge, B. 1981. Rytmisk musik i Grønland (Århus, Publimus)
Mølgaard, N. 2014. ‘Atlantic Music lukker studie i København’, Sermitsiaq, 22 July (Nuuk,
Netredaktionen. 2010. ‘“Støt Nuuk's Undergrundsmusik” er navnet på et arrangement som bliver afviklet i N.A.I.P's hus den 5. juni i Nuuk’, Sermitsiaq, 18 May (Nuuk,
Newman, M.Z. 2009. ‘Indie culture: in pursuit of the authentic autonomous alternative’, Cinema Journal, 48/3, pp. 1634
Otte, . 2012a. Interview conducted by Otte, 11 May
Otte, . 2012b. Interview conducted by Otte, 27 May
Otte, . 2012c. Interview conducted by Otte, 27 June
Otte, A. 2012d. ‘Populærmusik fra Nuuk – Alternativer til en essensbaseret grønlandsk identitet’, Tidsskriftet Grønland, 1/60, pp. 5261
Otte, A. 2013. Musikken i Grønland og Grønland i musikken: Om sted og globalisering i musik fra Grønland (Copenhagen, GAGA-Productions)
Qvist, N.O. 2012. ‘Vi vil have klager’, Sermitsiaq, 23 May (Nuuk,
Regan-Lefebvre, J. 2009. Cosmopolitan Nationalism in the Victorian Empire – Ireland, India and the Politics of Alfred Webb (New York, Palgrave Macmillan)
Regev, M. 2011. ‘Pop-rock music as expressive isomorphism: blurring the national, the exotic, and the cosmopolitan in popular music’, American Behavioral Scientist, 55, pp. 558–73
Regev, M. 2013. Pop-rock Music (Cambridge, Polity Press)
Reily, S.A. 1994. ‘Macunaíma's music: national identity and ethnomusicological research in Brazil’, In Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place, ed. Stokes, M. (Oxford, Berg), pp. 7196
Research team. 2012. Focus group interview conducted by the research team, 27 March
Robertson, R. 1992. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture (London, Sage)
Robertson, R. 1995. ‘Glocalization: time-space and homogeneity-heterogeneity’, In Global Modernities, ed. Featherstone, M., Lash, S. and Robertson, R. (London, Sage), pp. 2544
Rojek, C. 2011. Pop Music, Pop Culture (Cambridge, Polity Press)
Rygaard, J. 2003. ‘Youth culture, media and globalization processes in Greenland’, Young, 11/4, pp. 291308
Rygaard, J. 2010. ‘“Proxemic Nuuk”: town and urban life with Nuuk as example’, In Cultural and Social Research in Greenland: Selected Essays 1992–2010, ed. Langgaard, K. (Nuuk, Ilisimatusarfik/Forlaget Atuagkat), pp. 229–48
Shank, B. 1994. Dissonant Identities: The Rock'n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas (Hannover and London, Wesleyan University Press)
Shuker, R. 2008. Understanding Popular Music Culture (New York, Routledge)
Slavková, M. 2010. ‘Echoing the beats of turbo-folk: popular music and nationalism in ex-Yugoslavia’, Urban People, 2, pp. 419–39
Spivak, G.C. 1987. In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (New York, Routledge)
Sørensen, A.K. 1995. ‘Greenland: from colony to home rule’, In Ethnicity and Nation Building in the Nordic World, ed. Tägil, S. (London, Hurst), pp. 85105
Straw, W. 2005. ‘Communities and scenes in popular music’, In The Subcultures Reader, ed. Gelder, K. (New York, Routledge), pp. 469–78
Subkite Project, Facebook. (accessed 4 October 2012)
Subkite Project, YouTube. (accessed 29 May 2014)
Thisted, K. 2002. ‘Grønlandske relationer – om grønlandsk etnicitet i dansk/grønlandsk diskurs’, In Transkulturel psykiatri, ed. Alberdi, F., Nørregaard, C., Kastrup, M. and Kristensen, M. (Copenhagen, Hans Reitzels Forlag), pp. 87111
Thisted, K. 2011. ‘Nationbuilding–Nationbranding: Identitetspositioner og tilhørsforhold under det selvstyrede Grønland’, In Fra vild til verdensborger, ed. Høiris, O. and Marquardt, O. (Århus, Aarhus Universitetsforlag), pp. 547584
Thór, J.Th., Joensen, J.P., and Thorleifsen, D. 2012. ‘Nationalisme og nationsdannelse i 1800- og 1900-tallet’, In Naboer i Nordatlanten. Færøerne, Island og Grønland: hovedlinjer i Vestnordens historie gennem 1000 år, ed. Thór, J.Th. (Tòrshavn, Faroe University Press), pp. 395465
Wilk, R. 1996. ‘Connections and contradictions: from the Crooked Tree Cashew Queen to Miss World Belize’, In Beauty Queens on the Global Stage: Gender, Contests, and Power, ed. Cohen, C.B., Wilk, R. and Stoeltje, B. (New York, Routledge), pp. 217–32

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Nuuk underground: musical change and cosmopolitan nationalism in Greenland

  • Andreas Otte (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.