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How Dutchness became a public issue: from national character to national question Rogier van Reekum, MA2012.

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Presentation on theme: "How Dutchness became a public issue: from national character to national question Rogier van Reekum, MA2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 How Dutchness became a public issue: from national character to national question Rogier van Reekum, MA2012

2 2 The dwindling self-evidence of national character: external referent: “volk” preserved in time deeply personal, yet transhistorical European space of national types the rhetoric of ‘oversight’: J. Huizinga

3 3

4 4 Enacting a post-racist consensus: racism is banned from the civil sphere: but what does that mean? how to be an anti-racist: no stars in the sky the (mis)recognition of racism: the race/culture split

5 5 “All those who reside in the Netherlands are treated equally in equal cases. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, orientation, political persuasion, race, sex or any other ground, is prohibited.” races, like religions, are all equal racism, like all discrimination, is prohibited

6 6 No stars to navigate by… Racist?Anti-racist?

7 7 The race/culture distinction: native culture Hans Janmaat (1983): “…we’re dealing with people from totally different upbringings. That isn’t related so much to race, although one could maybe maintain that people who are born in Africa or wherever in the world have a different physical appearance from us, but it’s not about physical appearance, the point is that people who have totally divergent ways of living come to our country, having been prompted to do so, in fact, by the big political parties in our country, because it would be so beneficial for them here in the Netherlands, and what’s the result? […] when someone from a totally different part of the world resides in the Netherlands for a long time and is unable to live out his own life rhythm, someone like that is brought off balance…”

8 8 Uninhibited speech: breaching taboos Herman Vuijsje (1986): “Essed scrutinized everyday manners of the Dutch, in conversation with black women, and ascertained that the Netherlands is infected by the racism-germ to the bone. This is the result of three hundred years of colonialism and white superiority. All white Dutch carry their part of a kind of collective, inherited guilt. Because they are Dutch.”

9 9 “When we add this all up, I am inclined to state that the Dutch people [volk] still has a hard burgherly core. Yet, this core is being undermined and corroded by all kinds of non- and anti-burgherly forces and trends which from the perspective of the traditional burgherly culture can be branded as a degradation of that culture. These trends have already made people – and this is particularly true for the intellectual top tire – embarrassed for their burgherlyness. ‘Burgherly’ has become an often used term of abuse. The embarrassment for what we, at the core, still are, is part of the identity crisis in which the Dutch nation finds itself in 1980.”

10 10 The post-racist dissensus has the performative effect of opening up the issue of national identity in terms of a neglected question: anti-racism is identified with anti-burgherly movement even though there is a “we”, namely the image of a post-racist people, this “we” is in constant disagreement about what post-racism might entail talking about native culture and national identity side steps the ambiguities of racism in crucial ways :  Culture becomes the more fundamental concept (race is ‘merely’ appearance);  The nation must first and foremost be imagined.

11 11 Out of the post-racist dissensus: National identity becomes conceivable as a public issue, which means:  It is a public question in need of public answers  Public debate becomes a test for the integrity of national identity From national character to public question


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