The Politics of Multiple Belonging: Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and East Asia

By Yuanfang, Shen | The China Journal, July 2005 | Go to article overview
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The Politics of Multiple Belonging: Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and East Asia


Yuanfang, Shen, The China Journal


The Politics of Multiple Belonging: Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and East Asia, edited by Flemming Christiansen and UIf Hedetoft. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. x + 282 pp. US$79.95/£45.00 (hardcover).

This is an important book addressing, from various perspectives, a wide range of issues about identity and belonging. It sheds light on how ethnic belonging and identity are intertwined with, and influenced by, state policies, regional politics, organizational interests and histories as well as by social, cultural and psychological factors.

The book consists of fourteen well-researched chapters, thematically structured in four parts. Part I, "Trends", reconceptualizes the discourse of belonging and identity in relation to migration, racism, nationalism and globalization. Conceptualizing belonging, UIf Hedetoft notes, must take into account different parameters and their varying configurations in relation to the identity politics of different groups. Key parameters include locality and immediate familiarity, socio-psychological needs, nationalism, racism, globalization and the cosmopolitan dream (p. 24). Situating his analysis of the concept of diversity in the discourses of multiculturalism and globalization, Gerard Delanty argues that diversity has penetrated cultural identities as a whole (p. 45). At the levels of culture and social behavior, the boundaries between social groups are more diffuse than previously imagined.

Part II, "Migrants and Belonging", explores issues associated with diasporic identities in the European context. case studies include the Turks in Germany and France and the Chinese in Italy and other European countries. While migrants may enjoy many opportunities offered by migration, including belonging to globally distributed networks and organizations, the resources on which their diasporic identities draw are constrained. To a great extent, transnational organizations, communities and forums are divided rather than united. The nation-state, as a reference or resource, "is still relevant for migrant contention" (p. 73, Virginie Guiraudon). For the Chinese in Italy, belonging and the process of identity formation are ultimately tied to migration processes and Chinese relationships with the receiving community (Luigi Tomba). Xiujing Liang's research shows that ethnocentrism is alive and well within the Chinese communities in Europe, as evidenced by Chinese community leaders' attitudes towards "mixed" marriage.

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