Josip Kešić & Jan Willem Duyvendak (2020), ‘Secularist Nativism: National Identity and the Religious Other in the Netherlands’, in: Balkenhol, Markus, van den Hemel, Ernst, Stengs, Irene (eds.) The Secular Sacred. Emotions of Belonging and the Perils of Nation and Religion.
Bastingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.155-171
With its increasing intensification and political influence in contemporary Europe, it is crucial to understand the logic of the discourse constructing Islam and Muslims as a national threat.
Although religion and secularism play an important role, the primary concern in these discourses is the nation’s cultural identity. Therefore, this chapter analyses this self-other antagonism through the conceptual prism of what we call secularist nativism: a nationalistic ‘opposition to an internal minority on the ground of its foreign connections’ predicated on a secular self-image.
To unpack secularist nativism, we focus on one of its most explicit manifestation in Europe, contemporary Netherlands. The first section illuminates secularist nativism's two main pillars.
One the one hand progressive gender and sexuality are foregrounded as the defining essence of the secular nation. On the other hand, rather than a religious phenomenon, 'Cultural Christianity' functions as constitutive of the nation's cultural identity. As secular nativism strongly relies on constructions of history, the second section distinguishes between various narratives of national history that all contribute to a ‘sacralisation’ of secularist nativism (The Narrative of Secular Emergence; The Narrative of Perpetual Tolerance; The Narrative of Accomplished Progress; and, the Narrative of Rebirth). The final section deals with the effects of the nativist logic in the political realm, namely cultural assimilation and geographical displacement as the recurring solutions proposed by nativist politicians.