December 11, 2010
Traveling is always an interesting experience to me, you get to meet people from different walks of life and talking to them and listening to their views is always fun and enlightening. Much of the world’s problems can be solved if people travel to different countries and meet different people and exchange views and opinions; I am sure all those barriers we have created amongst ourselves will fall in no time.
During my recent trip to India, I got chance to meet some very interesting people and I am glad I met them. My first flight was from New York to Amsterdam and before the flight was about to take off, I exchanged usual pleasantries with my fellow passenger. As we continued talking, I got to know that my fellow passenger, Dr. Lammert de Jong, was an author and was traveling to Amsterdam for promoting his upcoming book “Being Dutch, More or Less“. As we talked about the book, he described to me that the book is about Dutch identity which has been changing in recent times due to globalization and immigration issues. Tolerance was once the hallmark of being Dutch, but in recent times this basic philosophy of being Dutch has been eroding. Dutch has been losing prominence in the global scene and in order to bring back the old glory and importance, the country have chosen a curious approach of “Take Back Netherlands” by separating the non-western immigrants from “True Dutch” identity, case in point being separating schools for non-western immigrants which are also called as schools for blacks. Terms such as allochtons for classifying immigrants which means “from other land” is another example of how the Dutch society is being divided in two different identities- “True Dutch” vs “Immigrant Dutch”. Then there is the issue of Dutch citizenship vs European Union citizenship. Overall, Dutch identity is in crisis and this book provides an interesting perspective on this issue. I have yet to read the book, so I can’t comment on what are the possible solutions suggested by Lammert on the issue, but I will ask few questions to him via email and try to post his replies in future posts. You can read a detailed interview of the author about the book here.
Netherlands is not the only country facing identity crisis in this new age of globalization. There are many other countries facing similar situation for eg. immigration issue in US, migration issue in Maharashtra and other states in India. Even though symptoms of the problems are the same in different countries but the causes and solutions will differ from country to country. Globalization has brought influx of people, ideas, cultures and traditions and since the things have happened so quickly in the recent times, it has brought some kind of turbulence in the social structure and due to lack of proper leadership things have started moving in wrong direction. Leaders who cling to the past and who can’t come up with any constructive solutions want to take things to the state as they were in past and that’s why we hear things like “let’s take Netherlands back”. The younger generation growing up in this new world of globalization provides some hope but in order to move things in right direction, they need a strong leadership. Well, that’s my two cents on this issue.
Details of the book:
Title: Being Dutch, more or less: In a Comparative Perspective of USA and Caribbean Practices
ISBN 978 90 3610 210 0
Author: Dr. Lammert de Jong
Publisher: Rozenberg Publishers
Image credit: Dr Lammert de Jong
Filed under: Social Issues