We came to this land first! Or did we?

Since last year, political discussions frequently include a statement that starts with “in the era of Trump and Brexit…”. Before the parliamentary elections last year in the Netherlands, the whole world was following anxiously the Dutch news. Would electoral victories of right-wing nativism advance like falling dominos, every observer was asking.

As soon as it became clear that the party of Geert Wilders is only the second biggest party, the mainstream media marked the Netherlands as the first country to stop far-right political advances in Europe (CNN). The election outcome showed that the man who pledged for Trump-style entry bans to stop “Islamification of Europe” (The Guardian) could not take the lead in forming the Dutch government. The centrist leaders of Europe expressed their relief but some observers looked at the results less optimistically (The Telegraph) and indicated that the other leading parties have adapted similar programs on the cultural grounds (Trouw, in Dutch), anyways. The Overton window has been shifted. And what was the campaign slogan of VVD, the prime minister’s party? Acting Normal (Normaal Doen)! In what is normal and who gets to define it, opinions differed.

With the current political climate persisting and war and climate refugees reaching record high numbers, a fundamental discussion on the rights of immigrants and natives is hard to avoid. This area of sociology is a main topic of research for Borja Martinovic, associate professor at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science/Ercomer. She has gathered ample empirical evidence on intergroup attitudes in western societies. In one of her research projects, among Dutch natives, Borja has identified “autochthony”—the belief that a place belongs to its original inhabitants and that they are therefore more entitled than newcomers—as a unique predictor of prejudice towards immigrants. Interestingly, her research in settler societies such as Australia and U.S. shows that the willingness of the inhabitants with European origin to accept immigrants who arrived later, or to grant compensatory rights to the indigenous groups, depends on how you tell them the history—whether you present their ancestors as first immigrants to these territories or whether you acknowledge the earlier presence of the indigenous groups. This finding underlines the important role of mass media and public education in shaping the in-group identity and positive or negative attitude towards both immigrants and the “true” first inhabitants.

I talked to her to learn more about her findings and the sociology of intergroup prejudices. That conversation is summarized in a new episode of the Voice of UYA podcast.

This is the fourth episode of this podcast series from the Utrecht Young Academy. In the first episode, Elaine Mak talks about the influence of new public management on the judiciary system and how she decided to study law. In the second episode Lars Tummers talks about job autonomy, his research on policy alienation, and his vision on open science. In the third episode, Ron Dotsch explains how to study human perception and why he left academia.

You can also find all episodes of the Voice of UYA on Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.