Anti-nationalist nationalism: the paradox of Dutch national identity


Kešić, J. & J.W. Duyvendak (2016) Anti-nationalist nationalism: the paradox of Dutch national identityNations and Nationalism, 22 (3), pp. 581-597, DOI: 10.1111/nana.12187

Academic research on contemporary Dutch nationalism has mainly fo- cused on its overt, xenophobic and chauvinist manifestations, which have become normalised since the early 2000s. As a result, less radical, more nuanced versions of Dutch nationalism have been overlooked. This article attempts to fill this gap by draw- ing attention to a peculiar self-image among Dutch progressive intellectuals we call anti-nationalist nationalism. Whereas this self-image has had a long history as banal nationalism, it has come to be employed more explicitly for political positioning in an intensified nationalist climate. By dissecting it into its three constitutive dimensions – constructivism, lightness and essentialism – we show how this image of Dutchness is evoked precisely through the simultaneous rejection of ‘bad’ and enactment of ‘good’ nationalism. More generally, this article provides a nuanced understanding of contem- porary Dutch nationalism. It also challenges prevalent assumptions in nationalism studies by showing that post-modern anti-nationalism does not exclude but rather con- stitutes essentialist nationalism.