Longing for Ghettos

De Gids, vol. 167, nr. 5/6 - mei/juni 2004

‘Like all other nations the Dutch secretly think that they are a little smarter than the rest. But a difference with other countries is that for centuries our greatest minds have excelled at creating doubt about our national identity’. This quote is by H.M. van den Brink, the editor of a special issue (2004) of De Gids, the oldest literary and cultural monthly magazine in the Netherlands dedicated to ‘misunderstandings about the Netherlands’. I wrote about one of these misunderstandings: the self-perception as a purely altruistic anti-colonial country. After the shock of ‘the multicultural drama’ and the upheavals of the first years of the new century we have to consider the possibility that the long colonial history has left one invisible scar: a longing for ghettos.

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