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Security and the Politics of Belonging: Homegrown terrorism, counter-radicalization and the “end” of multiculturalism?


What is the impact of counter-radicalization policies on multiculturalism and migrant membership in Europe? Many observers see state responses to homegrown terrorist threats as emphasizing assimilation in a way that marks the end of multiculturalism. This project argues instead that current anti-terror practices are producing an increased division of European societies along ethno-religious lines.

Media and political discourse in European countries have announced the “end” of multiculturalism. The main reason behind this “backlash” being the need of fighting “homegrown terrorism”, a danger understood as linked to diaspora ghettoization and ethnic and religious separateness. In this sense, counter-radicalization policies and practices should be at the vanguard of an assimilationist and anti-multiculturalist turn.

Yet is it the case? Several recent studies have shown that multicultural practices continue under different guises. Building on these findings, and through a comparison of Britain, France and the Netherlands, the project explores the hypothesis that counter-radicalization policies do not mark a return to assimilationist policies. Instead, through everyday practices of policing, they perpetuate and reinforce the ethno-religious division of national “communities”. The consequence of these policies is to remove fundamental questions about pluralism and citizenship from the political debate, casting them instead in the technical and depoliticized language of security.

The proposed research is based on a discourse analysis of policy documents, in-depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic observation.

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Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Rolf Oosterloo (Mr.)
EU contribution
No data