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

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: Who to you is a 'real German' (or anything else)? View instructions Hide instructions

Who to you is a 'real German' (or anything else)?

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Tell us: Who to you is a 'real German' (or Spaniard, Brit, Canadian, or anything else!)

In this chapter, you've been given a lot of food for thought on identity and belonging as it is understood on the personal and academic levels in Europe, Canada, and beyond. This is a topic that has likely hit home for many of you who may or may not be tied to particular borders, have questions or concerns about who belongs in your society, or may still be unsure about the whole thing. The 'Us' & 'Them' course community would love to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • What do you think the criteria should be for becoming a 'real' citizen or resident of your country?
  • What makes you a 'real' anything? (German, American, Spaniard, Turk, etc.)?
  • Do you see a cognitive vs. emotional dissonance in the way your society sees immigration, belonging, citizenship, etc.?
  • How do you identify with the word 'multiculturalism'? Do you see yourself or your society as multicultural?
  • Who is represented as nationals or residents of your country in public life?
  • How do politicians and public figures in your society or country portray multiculturalism? As a good, bad, or normal thing? What about schools and museums?
  • What type of language do you use to talk about the 'Other' or what kind of language do you prefer others use in reference to you? (e.g. migration background vs. migration history, 'Turkish-German' or 'German with Turkish roots', etc.)

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.

Humans love "clubs"

1 comment

First of all, it think it's natural for humans to look for associates. We all have curiosity for the unknown, but also long for the security of the known. It's a nice surprise for me, when I meet in a random German city a person of my native town, a German in a Portuguese town or a European in a Brazilian town. You very quickly find some common points/experiences to talk about. It's a good thing, but you can also see that my own situation defines the "similarity" of the others. So I really can't answer the question who is a "real soandso". I think nobody is one thing only, but changes with the circumstances. When I am in Germany I behave and also fell differenty as in Portugal, for example.

The only thing I can think about is that a "real citizen" should appreciate the society they live in and should try to support it within their abilities.
I found it very sad that the young Turkish man in the video said he weren't regarded as German. Haircut, clothes, language - honestly, if I would meet him on the street I would immediately assume he was German.

Multiculturalsm is a sensitive word in Germany. For many years, it was used in a way that meant that there should be parallel closed societies that had almost no cultural interaction. I would like our politicians, public figures, museums etc. show more of how new cultures enrich a country and how different viewing points make a more interesting picture.


Hi Luitgard, that's a great point, we all like to categorize others and ourselves! We did debate whether or not to bring in some psychology into this course as it is an important question and relates to the topic of how we identify ourselves and foreigners. Unfortunately didn't manage it this time but something definitely worth exploring when debating these topics.

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