The national identities of the ‘death of multiculturalism’ discourse in Western Europe

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    Since the late 1990s, multiculturalism is discussed, in newspapers more than in scientific discourses, as a public policy failure in West European nations. The Netherlands was one of the first to have declared multiculturalism ‘dead’. In the UK, the death of multiculturalism followed mainly from the 2005 London bombings. In Germany, the story of the failure of multiculturalism became popularized with the publication of Thilo Sarrazin's bestseller Germany is Abolishing Itself [Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab] in 2010. This article seeks to highlight key rhetorical expressions of the climactic period of 1 June 2010–1 March 2011. The twofold argument is that (1) the death of multiculturalism discourse in the Dutch, German and British newspapers manifests an attempt to reinforce particular monoculturalist visions of a national identity through the sociocultural construction of the other, the Muslims; and (2) in the different national newspapers, the death of multiculturalism discourse, with the corresponding media stereotyping of Muslims (as expressed in slogans, metaphors, neologisms, and so forth), varies according to the rhetorical usages of national legacies. In what follows now, three issues that recurrently appear in the death of multiculturalism discourse are discussed, namely, un-enlightenment, cultural imperialism and totalitarianism
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-189
    JournalJournal of multicultural discourses
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014


    • METIS-305424
    • IR-92021

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