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

09 Jul 2017, 07:12 PM
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 American"?

7 comments

This discussion is going on all the time in the US as well. In the US, the discussion tends to center around who came to the country legally (with papers) and who did not. If you don't have papers, the law will always consider you an outsider--even if you have been living in the country for decades, even if you follow the rules and pay your taxes and raise a family there. And people will still refer to you as a criminal, even if you have never committed any crime other than overstaying your visa.

In the US, immigrants can become citizens after entering the country legally, living there for a certain amount of time, learning English, and taking a test about American history and civics. Most people would agree that becoming a citizen makes an immigrant a "real American". But at the same time, many of those people might still continue to see that person as an outsider, especially if they don't see them as sharing American cultural values.

Personally, I tend to think that borders should be more open than they are, and that anyone who lives in the US and wants to be a "real American" should be one. But it isn't always that easy.

Comments

Thank you for sharing your comment Sara! In our further chapters Irene is talking about the different approaches between the US and Canada to how immigrants are viewed and integrated - I hope you find this interesting. Julia

Seconding Julia's comment on thanking you for your contribution, Sara. I think the situation undocumented immigrants face in the United States is a very interesting one that is not often connected to the European conversation, though there are parallels. We've including some of the American perspective on race in our resources but not yet anything specifically on the undocumented. Do you have any suggestions for our 'Additional Materials' section (journalistic or academic article, podcast, short video, website, project etc.) that might incorporate this perspective better into the Us & Them discussion?

Sara! Could you please tell us what the laws specifically mentioned on who is a citizen or not. Here in Ghana, most celebrities prefer having their children in either the USA or UK because they will be deemed nationals of those countries; is that the law?.
On the other hand, can an American have a dual citizenship? If yes, does it come with some limitations to the person in public life that is to say, to work in the public service?

Sara! The visa lottery which automatically makes the winners citizen of America; does this people have the same rights as the citizens? Do they face any form of segregation since this mostly are from the developing countries; multi coloured people?

4 months ago

Hello! Thanks for your comments and questions.

About birth citizenship: If a baby has at least one American citizen parent, he/she will be a citizen no matter where in the world they are born. Also, any baby born in the US is a citizen, even if the parents are not American citizens and even if the parents don't have legal visas. So we have many mixed-status families where the children are citizens but the parents are not.

About dual citizenship: Yes, I believe it is possible for Americans to be dual citizens in some circumstances but I don't know much about it. In most situations and in most jobs, having dual citizenship would not be a problem. Most of the time no one would ask. But it might be a problem in some government jobs, for example ones that require a high level security clearance.

About the visa lottery: The visa lottery grants visas, not citizenship. So a person who wins the visa lottery would be allowed to come and live in the US as a legal resident. They would be allowed to get a job and live normally. But if the person wanted to become a citizen, they would need to stay for a certain number of years and then take the citizenship test. After that, they would have the same rights as any American citizen.

About segregation: There is no legal segregation anymore, but I'm sorry to say that racism is still a problem in many places. It's changing, but slowly.

Thank you Sara

4 months ago

Kelly,
I'm an anthropologist working on refugee issues in the US. I have lots of resources that I'd be happy to share. Here are some resources about immigration in the US that I've found interesting.

Short video about undocumented Mexican farmworkers in the US: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwdEUXOPAVE

Video about the history of citizenship in the US: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cITBCCP0ZZ8

Washington Post story from George Takei about Japanese internment camps during WWII:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/11/18/george-takei-they-interned-my-family-dont-let-them-do-it-to-muslims/?utm_term=.c047b508a312

Book about how Detroit residents of Arab ancestry were excluded and treated with suspicion after 9/11: Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade

I have lots more...just ask...

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