Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity

Immigration and Belonging in North America and Western Europe
Nancy Foner
Patrick Simon
Paperback or Ebook
6.00 x9.00 in.
236 pages
October, 2015

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Fifty years of large-scale immigration has brought significant ethnic, racial, and religious diversity to North America and Western Europe, but has also prompted hostile backlashes. In Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity, a distinguished multidisciplinary group of scholars examine whether and how immigrants and their offspring have been included in the prevailing national identity in the societies where they now live and to what extent they remain perpetual foreigners in the eyes of the long-established native-born. What specific social forces in each country account for the barriers immigrants and their children face, and how do anxieties about immigrant integration and national identity differ on the two sides of the Atlantic?

Western European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have witnessed a significant increase in Muslim immigrants, which has given rise to nativist groups that question their belonging. Contributors Thomas Faist and Christian Ulbricht discuss how German politicians have implicitly compared the purported “backward” values of Muslim immigrants with the German idea of Leitkultur, or a society that values civil liberties and human rights, reinforcing the symbolic exclusion of Muslim immigrants. Similarly, Marieke Slootman and Jan Willem Duyvendak find that in the Netherlands, the conception of citizenship has shifted to focus less on political rights and duties and more on cultural norms and values. In this context, Turkish and Moroccan Muslim immigrants face increasing pressure to adopt “Dutch” culture, yet are simultaneously portrayed as having regressive views on gender and sexuality that make them unable to assimilate.

Religion is less of a barrier to immigrants’ inclusion in the United States, where instead undocumented status drives much of the political and social marginalization of immigrants. As Mary C. Waters and Philip Kasinitz note, undocumented immigrants in the United States. are ineligible for the services and freedoms that citizens take for granted and often live in fear of detention and deportation. Yet, as Irene Bloemraad points out, Americans’ conception of national identity expanded to be more inclusive of immigrants and their children with political mobilization and changes in law, institutions, and culture in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. Canadians’ views also dramatically expanded in recent decades, with multiculturalism now an important part of their national identity, in contrast to Europeans’ fear that diversity undermines national solidarity.

With immigration to North America and Western Europe a continuing reality, each region will have to confront anti-immigrant sentiments that create barriers for and threaten the inclusion of newcomers. Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity investigates the multifaceted connections among immigration, belonging, and citizenship, and provides new ways of thinking about national identity.

NANCY FONER is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

PATRICK SIMON is Director of Research at the Institut national d’études démographiques (National Institute for Demographic Studies).

CONTRIBUTORS: Irene Bloemraad, Jan Willem Duyvendak, Thomas Faist, Nancy Foner, Gary Gerstle, Philip Kasinitz, Nasar Meer, Tariq Modood, Deborah J. Schildkraut, Patrick Simon, Marieke Slootman, Varun Uberoi, Christian Ulbricht, Mary C. Waters

Front Matter
Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity: Immigration and Belonging in North America and Western Europe
Nancy Foner and Patrick Simon
The Contradictory Character of American Nationality: A Historical Perspective
Gary Gerstle
Reimagining the Nation in a World of Migration: Legitimacy, Political Claims-Making, and Membership in Comparative Perspective
Irene Bloemraad
Does Becoming American Create a Better American? How Identity Attachments and Perceptions of Discrimination Affect Trust and Obligation
Deborah J. Schildkraut
The War on Crime and the War on Immigrants: Racial and Legal Exclusion in the Twenty-First-Century United States
Mary C. Waters and Philip Kasinitz
Feeling Dutch: The Culturalization and Emotionalization of Citizenship and Second-Generation Belonging in the Netherlands
Marieke Slootman and Jan Willem Duyvendak
Nationhood and Muslims in Britain
Nasar Meer, Varun Uberoi, and Tariq Modood
Constituting National Identity Through Transnationality: Categorizations of Inequalities in German Integration Debates
Thomas Faist and Christian Ulbricht


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