Are newcomers more welcome in France than here?

Distinguished research professor Jan Willem Duyvendak is spending five months doing research at the Institut d’études avancées in Paris

11 November 2015

Migrants in France are regarded much more as an integral part of the country than is the case in the Netherlands. Or rather, that is a common assumption. Jan Willem Duyvendak, distinguished research professor at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, is researching that assumption as part of a five-month research fellowship at the Institut d’études avancées (IEA).

There are clear differences between France and the Netherlands in terms of their view of migration, both in the past and today, Duyvendak explains. ‘France’s colonial past is very different, for instance. While the Netherlands saw its colonies mainly as opportunities for extracting economic gain, France saw its role as actually to “French-ify” its overseas territories. As a result, it’s often said, France sees people from its colonies as being “genuinely French” while the Dutch have never felt that way about Indonesians.’

Similarity between Le Pen and Wilders

Another difference is the way in which the two countries deal with granting citizenship. Anyone born in France automatically has French nationality. Children born in the Netherlands are only given Dutch nationality if both of their parents are Dutch. ‘This is also said to show that the French are quicker to regard newcomers as “one of them” than the Dutch do. I question whether those assumptions are true. If we look at the discourse of Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders for example, they’re very similar. So I’m going to look at whether these differences between France and the Netherlands are real, and how we might account for any differences or similarities. ’

About the IEA

The IEA is a social and humanities research centre which accepts applications from international researchers to take up research fellowships for five or 12 months.

Published by  Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences