Diversity by Adversity: Europe and the Multicultural Mandate

    • Europe Inside-Out Nice 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Ronald Milland, Independent Scholar, Brooklyn, New York, USA


    One political commentator recently stated that the election of Donald Trump in the United States would usher in a sort of xenophobia known only in some areas of Europe. Even if this commentator was inaccurate in this hypothetical comparison, the statement serves as a stark reminder that xenophobia is not unknown in at least some parts of Europe. It was not that long ago, after all, that Austrians elected a former Wehrmacht officer as president. More recently, the response of the Belgian government to terrorist attacks includes deliberation of a “newcomers’ statement” which asylum seekers and migrants would be required to sign, as it would serve as a declaration of their acceptance of local values – without which they would see their residency claim rejected. Are these and other indicators hindrances to multiculturalism? Or, rather, do they serve as a necessary check on the influx of migrants – intended for their own security as much as that of the state? To what extent does multiculturalism, nationalism, and national security clash? Does cultural assimilation constitute a reasonable resolution to these competing priorities? This paper will explore these and other factors as they impact multiculturalism in Europe today. The perceptions versus the realities will be foregrounded, and the contextual lens will be expanded to include geopolitical upheavals that render diversification in Europe less an option and more of an inevitability. Additionally, the edges of this analysis will be elucidated with some of my relevant travel experiences as an American in Europe.