Making Traditions in a New Society


In Danish public debates on the integration of immigrants it is often assumed that in order truly to belong to Danish society newcomers need to adopt Danish traditions. This article discusses how Middle Eastern immigrants themselves relate tradition and cultural practice to notions of identity and belonging. Based on a study among Muslim families affiliated with a day-care institution in Copenhagen the article examines how parents through the performance of different traditions related to three Muslim and Christian calendrical rites negotiate

notions of identity and belonging to Danish society. Against the background of two cases it is argued that the participation in different calendrical rites in some ways includes immigrants in local society while simultaneously in other ways excluding them. Therefore, it is necessary to question the assumption that immigrants' performance of either Arab or Danish traditions constitutes an unequivocal expression of their degree of belonging to different places.

How to Cite

Pedersen, M. H., (2004) “Making Traditions in a New Society”, Ethnologia Europaea 34(1), 5-16. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Marianne H. Pedersen (University of Copenhagen)



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