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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.

Who is a real anything??

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I find this a difficult question to answer, but also very easy. For me I am who I am, I identify as a New Zealander, having spent my formative years here, although in that period were several years spent in the middle east and the UK. I was born in Wales, with some very Welsh parents, so I have always had that identity, and my Welsh heritage is something I am very aware of and very proud of. Yet if someone in NZ calls me Welsh and ignores my Kiwi identity, I can get pretty insulted by that, even though technically they are correct. I am also a Canadian citizen, having lived there for 8 years, but I definitely do not identify as Canadian. I think it is "easier" to identify with a "newer" identity e.g. NZer, American, Canadian or Australian. these national identities have only existed for a few hundred years and are a result of immigration, assimilation and normalisation of generic values. While I can happily identify as Welsh due to being born there into a family who have historically always lived there (even though I have lived there for only 8 years of my life) and I also readily identify as a New Zealander due to growing up here, I would certainly never ever feel I was Scottish even though I loved there for 12 years, but that to me is an ancient culture with a strong identity that has evolved over centuries.

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