Civilizing migrants: integration, culture and citizenship

Marc de Leeuw, Sonja van Wichelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


On the brink of multiculturalism's demise in Europe, 'culture' configures prominently in the immigration politics of Europe and its nation-states. New discourses of integration emphasize dominant values and norms and define civic membership through cultural commitment or loyalty. How is Europe doing integration, and what is integration doing to Europe? Taking its cues from the Dutch Integration Exam, this article analyses how 'culture' is paradigmatically disciplined upon new aspiring citizens. It argues that the citizenship test functions as a technique of governmentality that normalizes secular liberalism in its appropriation of the migrant Other. By employing cultural tropes of sexual freedom, gender equality, freedom of speech and individuality as emblems of Dutchness, integration is identified as the successful adaptation to hegemonic liberal and secular virtues, leaving little room for cultural or religious variations. By reflecting on the popularity of the Dutch model, the article assesses the paradoxes and tensions involved in thinking the citizen-subject within Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-210
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Citizenship
  • Dutch immigration politics
  • Europe
  • Integration
  • Multiculturalism


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