Mette-Louise Johansen

Associate professor

Mette-Louise Johansen
See relations at Aarhus University

Current research interests

My work focuses on the ways in which the Danish welfare state operates in the margins of the state and civil society. I am particularly interested in the relationship between various Danish authorities and migrant families whose children (or other relatives) form target groups for various preventive efforts in the welfare state. My doctorial research explored this relationship from the perspective of parents of Palestinian descent living in the largest Danish politically defined ghetto, Gellerupparken, in the early 2010s. The research raised questions to how the parents sought to navigate welfare state interventions into their everyday lives, family and community, and neighborhood environment. This is an account on the massive amount of energy that the parents spent trying to reconcile the many different, often irreconcilable, demands on their parenting practices. The research dealt with issues of marginality, morality, intimate lives, welfare state proximity and the social effects of urban regeneration. 

In my postdoctorial research, I examined the perspective of the Danish police and the ways in which the securitization of Danish Muslims is being produced, practiced, and problematized from within the Danish welfare system. This research raised questions to the implementation of the so-called “Aarhus Model”, asking how the police and various welfare state officials engaged in countering violent extremism in the city of Aarhus during the 2010s. The research examined the police’s concerns, risk assessments, and understandings of the phenomenon of radicalization. The project discussed anxious politics, models of prevention, multiagency bureaucratic efforts, and policing at the interface between the war on crime and the war on terrorism.

I am currently a work package leader in a research project exploring contemporary issues on human sacrifice in Scandinavia. The project seeks answers to why human sacrifice, exploring the interrelationship between sacred sacrificial violence and political forms of ritual violence. This is a cross-Scandinavian research project conducted in collaboration between the department of Anthropology and the Department of Archeology at Aarhus University, the Danish National Museum and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. I am continuously working with the police as well as migrant families whose children stand at the center of state reformation, securitization and anxious politics.

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