2015 Rae and Dr. Dan Landis Outstanding Dissertation Award Winner

Dr. Anouk Smeeks
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER) at Utrecht University

Dissertation Title
"The presence of the past: Historical rooting of national identity and current group dynamics"
(University: Utrecht University)

In various Western European countries politicians have argued that national citizens lack a sense of collective consciousness and belonging, because they are no longer aware of the shared historical foundations of their national identity. Against the background of a renewed emphasis on national heritage and roots in Western European discourses on cultural diversity and European integration, this dissertation examines how historicization of national identity informs current group dynamics. Taking the perspective of the native Dutch majority, it is examined to what extent temporal understandings of national identity affect (1) identification with the nation, and (2) evaluations of out-groups and other social developments that potentially undermine national identity.

The results of the six empirical chapters presented in this book suggest that perceptions of national identity temporality provide an important basis for natives’ identification with the nation, but also drive tendencies to protect the national in-group against out-groups (i.e., Muslim immigrants) and social developments (i.e., European integration) that potentially undermine national identity. Yet, whether perceptions of national identity temporality translate into negative out-group attitudes is shown to be dependent on the historical content that people attribute to it. A Christian historical representation is negatively related to attitudes towards Muslim immigrants and can mobilize lower national identifiers and younger people to become more negative about this out-group. Finally, a religious tolerant historical representation makes natives more positive about Muslim immigrants, particularly those who strongly identify with the nation.

Anouk Smeekes (1984) obtained her Research Master’s degree in Migration, Ethnic Relations and Multiculturalism at Utrecht University. The research presented in this book was conducted at the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) and at the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER) at Utrecht University. She currently employed as an Assistant Professor at ERCOMER. 


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