Multiculturalism revisited: towards a shared national membership in a multicultural, democratic nation-state
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This thesis investigates the negotiated interpretations of “self” amongst 2nd generation Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish individuals. It thus enhances our understanding of a national identity that is both cohesive as well as susceptible to the multicultural dimensions the modern nation-state inhabits. As part of a theoretical evaluation of multiculturalism, the focus is on the relationship between nationalism and multiculturalism, and between acknowledging the civic and ethnic dimensions that embody and unite the national “self”. The thesis unpicks how and in which ways these elements influence the accommodation, the respect and inclusion of the ethno-culturally diverse “other”. Multiculturalism theory tends to overlook this important symbiosis which might explain the current, widespread public and political stance that no longer regards multiculturalism as a viable, sustainable approach to diversity. The Netherlands is an interesting case study not least because it was portrayed as the multicultural example and yet illuminates a gradual, yet devastating and definite abandonment of multiculturalism. This was symbolized by the assassination of film maker and Islam critic Theo van Gogh whose murderer, a young, educated, Dutch-Moroccan man, claimed to have killed in the name of Islam. The main analysis involves data from thirteen interviewees conducted with seven Dutch- Moroccans and six Dutch-Turks. Such 2nd generation migrants have seen their “Dutchness” contested and/or questioned despite the fact that their upbringing, education and daily life has largely occurred in the Netherlands. Other forms of data collection include a small scale online survey, a pilot participant observation session, and conducted interviews with experts of relevant organisations. This hybrid mélange of data illuminates methodological issues of researching a target group that is highly “researched”. The thesis commences with a contextual chapter that illuminates changing (inter)national public and political discourse on integration and offers a critical overview of Dutch immigration and integration policies (chapter 4). The Dutch approach of “pillarized multiculturalism” illuminates a key flaw in the practical implementation of multiculturalism where the focus on bonding rather than bridging accentuated a rigidified, “pillarized” segmentation of cultural difference according to social categories rather than individual integrity. As a consequence of these policies, an embedded notion of categorical “differentness” is sustained, and is reflected in Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish individuals’ identification processes of “self”. In this regard, the role of culture is highlighted in two distinct ways that acts a) as a tool that serves Dutch-Moroccans and Dutch-Turks to negotiate an individualistic, civic, inclusive “Dutchness” as part of their religious and ethno-cultural affiliations and b) as an essentialist force that embodies a “culturalist” Dutch identity that is ethno-ancestrally exclusive (Chapter 5, 6 and 7). The thesis thus demonstrates the civic-ethnic dialectic inherent in national identity. This dialectic, comprising dilemmas of exclusion and inclusion and boundaries between majority and minority cultures, can shape a better understanding of a national membership that induces both national cohesion as well as accommodates multicultural diversity.