Accepted paper:

Old toxic wine in new bottles or new poison? Migrants hostile discourses in The Netherlands in the light of ethnicity and diversity

Authors:

Hans Siebers (Tilburg University)
Nuray Tümer (WUR / UvT)

Paper short abstract:

Both the concept of ethnicity and its alternatives - transnationalism and super-diversity notions – need to account for dominant discourses of exclusion towards migrants. The current and recent dominant discourse of exclusion towards migrants in The Netherlands cannot be undestood as racism. It respresents a qualitatively new kind of exclusionary discourse that curbs transnationalism and super-diversity, and favours ethnic group formation.

Paper long abstract:

Substantive concepts of ethnicity have guided many studies of migrants in The Netherlands and elsewhere. Critique has come from transnationalism and super-diversity perspectives. All these approaches need to account for dominant discourses of exclusion towards migrants. Here critical race theory comes into view. However, the conceptualization of the current Dutch dominant discourse of exclusion towards migrants in terms of racism is far from self-evident. The question is raised whether critical race theory sheds light on this discourse or whether this discourse is qualitatively new and unprecedented. Based on a critical discussion of critical race theory, of this migrants hostile discourse in The Netherlands dominant since 2000, and of the ways in which it works out for migrants in work settings (based on fieldwork), several conclusions are made. First, this discourse differs from critical race theory in several ways. It differs in its classifications and it draws on different ideological sources. It mirrors the mutual ethnization processes that relational approaches of ethnicity and group formation (Barth, Simmel) point to. Second, also the ways in which it works out for migrants are different. Cultural submission leads to a combination of limited border-crossing plus positioning in subordinated positions in society. The current migrants hostile discourse in The Netherlands cannot completely be understood by substantive conceptions of ethnicity, by super-diversity notions, nor by critical race theory. Ethnic group formation is not self-evident, but may be the outcome of exclusionary discourses, countering super-diversity. This discourse needs to be understood in its own terms.

panel W055
Critical perspectives on the persistence of 'culture talk' in the making of Europe