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Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

Chapters 1 › Unit 1: Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'? View instructions Hide instructions

Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'?

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Tell us: Where do you fall on the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ spectrum?

In this chapter, you've seen many examples of how diversity is understood and contested in Germany and Canada. We imagine you may want to comment on what you've heard and maybe even share your personal experiences. The 'Us' & 'Them' course community would love to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • How is diversity perceived in your country?
  • How are the communities you identify with (race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sex, gender...) represented in media and public life?
  • What examples can you mention or find that indicate your inclusion or exclusion from mainstream society?
  • What experiences have you had where others perceived you in a certain way based on how you look or where you come from? Were these correct or incorrect?
  • Does your country recognize itself as a country of immigration and in which ways? Do you see your country as a country of immigration?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

I am Charles

4 comments

To begin with, I object to the term "your country" or "my country". I don't feel that my identity is completely connected with any one place. Perhaps that's because I lived in the USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Croatia. I have felt as "them" in all of them. I am white, Jewish, Quaker, pacifist, religious, a volunteer, a physician, male, someone who deeply believes in people, against genocide and torture of any sort, and someone who wants to assist others in any way I can. Because of all of these, I am seen as outside the mainstream. Sometimes, now, in my older age, I am seen as an "authority", which is a new experience for me. It has taken me quite a while, but I now accept being a foreigner everywhere. While it bothers me a bit, it allows me to assist others to do the same, and to help them work through their psychological traumas. I want to see people as wholes, not as labels. I want to see them as reacting to their circumstances and experiences and not as "pathological" or "strange". I don't want to see anyone as an enemy. This is extremely important when we're talking about integration. It is this listening to one another, attempting to understand one another's language and feelings and culture and who the other individual is that is important to me.

Comments

Hi Charles! Thank you for your comment. We agree - "your country" or "my country" is not the most appropriate term. We want to gather experiences that come from where you feel at home now or whatever location feels more meaningful for you to talk about. Many of our course-takers will strongly relate to your sentiment of not wanting to identify with one country. Yet we are dealing with a reality where nation state define the experience when it comes to the mobility of people...

Hi Julia,

I agree that the nation state defines mobility. Yet, it is precisely the identification with a nation state that causes nationalism and hatred and war. In my experience with asylum seekers and refugees and "voluntary" migrants, both professionally since 1988 and privately, my feeling is that, for the person him/herself, it is far better psychologically for the person to take the standpoint of being an individual rather than identifying with the nation state. Identification with nation states is one cause of violence and the lack of integration, in my view. It causes pain to those excluded and to those who the nation state defines as "out groups". This is important on an individual psychological basis but also for societies. I have seen that everywhere that I have lived, including the USA, the Netherlands and, currently, in Vukovar, Croatia. We should not be saluting national flags and singing national anthems, but celebrating ourselves and those around us in a spirit of diversity, in my view.

Hi Charles, thanks a lot for your comments. You may have heard of this already, but just in case, a great TED Talk that looks at the topic of identifying with nations: https://www.ted.com/talks/taiye_selasi_don_t_ask_where_i_m_from_ask_where_i_m_a_local

Hi Sophia, I just watched the video. You're right, it is excellent. Thank you.

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