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Opacity and Openness: Creating New Senses of Dutchness

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Chapter Summary

Until the turn of the century, one of the main causes of the presumed success of the Dutch immigration policy was believed to be its formally delineated tolerance of cultural difference. Since the beginning of the century, the Dutch perception of its own policy has radically changed: it is now considered to have been a complete failure, mainly because it would have been founded in the wrong kind of tolerance. This essay unravels the rather baffling knot of national values and characteristics, in which tolerance can carry opposite meanings, through a consideration of the work of environmental activist and immigrant authors (Kader Abdolah, Hafid Bouazza, and Ellen Ombre). Their work allows for a consideration of the way in which the Dutch discourse of openness, transparence, and tolerance works as an aesthetics. How would this aesthetics of openness and tolerance relate to what, in this collection, we call migratory aesthetics? The question is all the more relevant, as in Dutch public debate, the common assumption is still that an emphasis on openness and/or tolerance would facilitate integration, though there is fierce dissent about the political implementation of these values. The essay shows that, even before conservative voices began to dominate the debate, the discourse of tolerance has not led to the acceptance of difference, but to evasion, and the institutionalization of difference.



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