In contemporary Europe, national identities are fiercely contested and governments have sought ways to strengthen national identification. Notwithstanding this European pattern, government policies are implemented differently and belonging to the nation comes to involve different images and enactments across contexts. In the Netherlands, especially, belonging to the nation is at stake in many high-profile public and political struggles. In this context, a pervasive public imaginary we call 'dialogical Dutchness' represents the Dutch as distinctly anti-nationalist and open to difference. This raises the question whether national boundaries actually become traversable in view of such a national imaginary. How does one become a Dutch subject if Dutchness entails not being nationalist? Through the analysis of a Dutch social policy practice - state-provided parenting courses - we show how dialogical Dutchness is negotiated and transformed in actual enactments of national difference and belonging. Although dialogical Dutchness foregrounds openness to difference and valorises discussion, it comes to perpetuate and substantiate boundaries between those who belong to the nation and those whose belonging is still in question.

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Nations and Nationalism
Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology (CROCUS)

van Reekum, R, & van den Berg, M. (2015). Performing dialogical Dutchness: Negotiating a national imaginary in parenting guidance. Nations and Nationalism, 21(4), 741–760. doi:10.1111/nana.12101