I Belong, Therefore I Am: Immigration, National Identity, and Feeling of Belonging
A Presentation by Benedetta Romano (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich)
Is the cultural background of immigrants a legitimate criterion for determining their access to the host country? Those endorsing the cultural criterion have emphasized the value of national culture as a source of identity for the members of the national community, and have argued that the inclusion of immigrants with a different cultural background within the community constitutes a threat against it. In order to assess the cultural criterion, I determine first what the value of national culture as a source of identity consists in, and then what respecting it entails. Having clarified that the value of national culture as a source of identity resides in providing a feeling of belonging, and that this value has a participatory character, I claim that immigrants do not threaten it if they do not share cultural traits similar to those characterizing the host community, but only if they do not share a feeling of belonging to it. This is why I conclude that, in order to protect the value of national culture as a source of identity, what is appropriate is not selecting immigrants based on their cultural background, but rather fostering their feeling of belonging to the host community.