He(lgason) Hate Me
September 24, 2009 12:07 PM   Subscribe

In a recent MeTa thread, Krilli says that the only racism in Iceland is against the Polish and Asians. Why for?

How does racism against Asians in Iceland manifest itself? What are Icelandic stereotypes of Asian people and where did they come from? Should an Asian person visiting Iceland be concerned about this?
posted by Mountain Goatse to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's an advanced Western European country with relatively low crime. It shouldn't be an overt problem, especially if you're just a tourist. Tourism is a major industry there and the locals probably get used to seeing all sorts of people. I haven't heard anything negative from Asian friends who've gone there.
posted by fairykarma at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2009


fairykarma: I actually spent a little more than a day in Reykjavik, and didn't notice anything. Was just wondering what Icelandic people think about this, and whether it might be more of an issue outside of Reykjavik.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2009


Active racism in Iceland is most often directed against Poles and Asians because they are the most visible foreigners, Poles because there are quite a lot of them and Asians because they stand out in the pasty-white society of Iceland.

Active racism is quite rare but there is quite a bit of casual racism common to most cultures.

An Asian traveling in Iceland shouldn't have to be concerned as Icelandic racism is rarely if ever directed against tourists.

Stereotypes in Iceland about Asians are similar to stereotypes generally in Europe and the US (i.e. industrious, subservient etc.).
posted by Kattullus at 12:31 PM on September 24, 2009


Kattullus, has there been any anti-English feeling since the banks debacle and Gordon Brown's approach to the legal issues involved?
posted by biffa at 12:39 PM on September 24, 2009


Data point: I have traveled to backcountry Iceland with an Asian friend (who had visited previously and intends to visit again) and nothing that he said or I saw indicates anything other than what Kattullus claims above.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:41 PM on September 24, 2009


Anti-English feeling has a long history in Iceland that goes back at least to when English trawlers would fish in Icelandic territorial waters in the 19th Century and would often resort to violence to keep Icelanders and Icelandic authorities from interfering with their fishing. For instance my great-great-grandfather was killed when his boat was capsized by English fisherman (the local sheriff had commandeered it to go aboard the English trawler). After the Cod Wars anti-English sentiment subsided and I know a lot of Icelandic Anglophiles (one marker of this is that a lot of Icelanders support the English national team in World Cups). Now, however, there's been a resurgence of anti-English sentiment what with the whole financial kerfufflefuck. It's not at a level, however, that any English person traveling around Iceland will have to worry about.
posted by Kattullus at 1:14 PM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Icelanders? You have nothing to fear if you're buying the beer.

Don't worry about it. Very liberal and friendly place.
posted by rokusan at 1:17 PM on September 24, 2009


Active racism in Iceland is most often directed against Poles and Asians because they are the most visible foreigners, Poles because there are quite a lot of them and Asians because they stand out in the pasty-white society of Iceland.

Oops, I used the wrong word here. What I meant to say is that Poles and Asians are the most visible immigrants. There are large Polish, Thai and Vietnamese communities in Iceland (comparatively large, Iceland is a nation of only 300 thousand people) and these are the most visible immigrant communities.

But yes, there's no need to worry.
posted by Kattullus at 1:20 PM on September 24, 2009


Thank you all for asking for clarification about this, and the good explanations!

I would like to state that it's mostly this low-level racism, mostly in preconceptions and respect, and it's even not universal. It's not the kind that visitors will particularly notice I believe, but it can probably be tough to grow up here — if you're unlucky. That kind of thing.
posted by krilli at 7:09 AM on September 25, 2009


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