10 May 2021
14:15 - 15:45
Online - see link below

Seminar: Pomme van de Weerd – Ethnic self-categorization

Link to online seminar below


Title: Ethnic self-categorization: A sign of (un)belonging or an interactional phenomenon?



Many second and third generation descendants of immigrants in the Netherlands refer to themselves as Marokkaan “Moroccan,” Turk “Turk,” or buitenlander “foreigner” rather than as Nederlander “Dutch person,” despite being the second generation to be born and to have grown up in the Netherlands (e.g. Slootman, 2016). Similar practices have been observed in countries with comparable histories of immigration, such as Germany (Bozay, 2012), France (Simon, 2012), and Belgium (Jaspers, 2011a). Labelling oneself anything other than Dutch has been implied to signal a strong identification with, and orientation to, the country of origin, or to be a signal of a lack of feelings of belonging to the Netherlands (e.g. Ersanilli & Koopmans, 2010; Huijnk & Dagevos, 2012). This is often thought to form an “[obstacle] to integration into Dutch society” (Bouras, 2013: 1220).

On the basis of long-term ethnographic fieldwork among secondary school pupils in Venlo, the Netherlands, who regularly referred to themselves with the terms ‘Moroccan’, ‘Turk’ and ‘foreigner’, and detailed analyses of those categorizations in interaction, I argue that such interpretations of self-labelling overlook the complex meaning potential and the social and interactional functions of ethnic categorization. In this talk, I will discuss these findings and their implications.



Pomme van de Weerd is a linguistic anthropologist with a PhD from Maastricht University. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Nederlanders and buitenlanders: A sociolinguistic-ethnographic study of ethnic categorization among secondary school pupils’ (link to download) is a close examination of the complex meaning potential and the social functions of self and other-categorization in terms such as ‘Moroccan’, ‘Turk’, ‘foreigner’ and ‘Dutch’ in interaction. Other research interests include social mobility, the construction of inequality in interaction, and identity. She is currently a lecturer at the department of Dutch studies at the University of Amsterdam and the department Minorities & Multilingualism at the University of Groningen.



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