Sweeper: Europe’s Multiculturalism

Europe’s history is more integrated than we think it is. This also extends to much of the middle east and North Africa, in countries such as Turkey and Egypt. I think that we often fall into the trap of forgetting that Europe as a collective is a very new entity and that its history is far richer than the last 500 years. Because of this, multiculturalism is far more prevalent in Europe than it is elsewhere. It has emerged less because of immigration and cultural assimilation, as exists in the America, but of cultural history. For example, the dispute over the name ‘Macedonia’ between Greece and the Macedonian Republic began because Phillip II of Macedon was king of the Greeks. Thus, they do not want Macedonia to claim their cultural heritage. Phillip II lived in the mid 4th century BC, yet it still affects inter-country relations. This is something that uniquely affects Europe and explains their multicultural issues, which is something we focussed on in class briefly.

Another thing I found interesting was our discussion on which traditions we support despite being secularised. These include public holidays such a Easter and Christmas, and the use of blasphemies such as ‘Oh my God’. I believe that we have to remove the religious dimension out of our assessment of these things and see it as tradition. The article on Zwarte Piet- the tradition of the black doll in The Netherlands- really frustrated me as, although it could be seen and might once have been seen as prejudice against blacks, now it fosters tradition in the country that isn’t racist but celebratory of their oldest traditions. I believe that immigrants shouldn’t get angry about traditions that have existed for hundreds of years in the countries they are moving to, unless they negatively impact them. If they do get offended by Europe’s rich history, which has changed unbelievably over the years, they will meet issues at every turn.

Overall, what I learnt from this weeks lecture and readings was that Europe is a unique example and should not be compared to the Americas in multi-culturalism. They are both integrated and un-integrated in history, which makes the discourse on Europe’s massive racial problem, particularly at the moment, very interesting.

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