Burgerschapsvorming en nationale identiteit | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 37, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1567-7109
  • E-ISSN: 2468-1652



On February 7, 2107, the Dutch minister and the state secretary of education sent a letter to the parliament about their proposed measures to improve citizenship education in primary and secondary schools. A new element in their plans was the concern for ‘national identity’. The main question this article raises is ‘Is it possible to promote national identity without promoting chauvinism? To answer the question the author first goes back to the three essays he wrote in the nineties when he noticed a new rise of nationalism in Europe. The central question of those essays was if people can do without a nation, in the words of Jean Améry: ‘How much “Heimat” does a human being need?’ Secondly the author summarizes a recent analysis of nationalism and xenophobia the 2017 parliamentary election campaign of six political parties to illustrate that the call for an emphasis on ‘national identity’ is quite common nowadays. His conclusion is however that ‘national identity’ should not be considered as a basic element of citizenship education. (Dutch) national identity does not exist, as de Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regerngsbeleid (Scientific Council for Governmental Policy) concluded in a report in 2007, and all available elaborations of the concept exclude groups of people on beforehand.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): citizenship; education; national identity
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