Xenophobia and nationalism are rising in countries across Europe and 'Western,' liberal democracies globally. Alongside anti-immigrant discourses, Islamophobia and anti-Black racism work to exclude certain bodies from full social citizenship. Taking the Netherlands as a case study, this research interrogates normative constructions of citizenship and the everyday register of belonging by investigating how second-generation Black and Muslim Dutch youth resist and subvert processes of exclusion and how they imaginatively prefigure different futures and realities.
In this research, semi-structured interviews and a 14-week theatre project are both the method and the object of study in and of itself. Approaching this research with an ethics of solidarity, I use theatre to engage participants more fully in the research process and as a tool to further theorize more unconscious or intuitive practices. I focus specifically on the everyday: this micro-level of analysis reveals how marginalized Dutch youth grapple with complex yet mundane dilemmas and enact different visions for the future through seemingly ordinary and commonplace gestures and decisions.
First, I look at how normative white Dutch discourses of exclusion, such as the expression doe normaal and the lexicon around 'othering,' work to foster a fragmented sense of belonging among racialized Dutch youth. Second, I examine the importance of affect and emotion as tools both in normative discourses of exclusion of mainstream white Dutch society and in coping mechanisms and visions of alternate realities of marginalized Dutch youth. Third, I analyze how the practices of everyday resistance employed by second-generation Dutch youth are mediated and tempered by pressures to assimilate but also how resistance, instead of being against something, prefigures alternate futures.
This research calls for racialized Dutch youth, policy makers, and educators to expand the lexicon with which to engage and enhance public dialogue around racism and Islamophobia in the Netherlands. It also invites white Dutch society to sit with and practice discomfort as a way of moving beyond white innocence and other forms of privilege which shut down conversation. Finally, it contributes to understanding resistance as working in the margins of consciousness towards a third space of imagined possibilities.