By Yiu Fai Chow
In the Netherlands, public discourses on the “multicultural drama” omit the Chinese. While other ethnic minorities are increasingly requested to integrate, the Chinese are perceived to be exemplary precisely because they remain Chinese. The implicit comment put forward to other minorities seems to be: how Dutch are you? And to the Dutch-Chinese: how Chinese! Informed by my own experience, this essay begins with an outline of the multicultural schizophrenia inherent in current discussions in the Netherlands on ethnic minorities and integration, in general, and the model minority discourse framing the Chinese, in particular. Against this context, I will zoom in onto the Chinese experience. How are the Dutch-Chinese responding to this multicultural schizophrenia wrapped up as compliment? How do they negotiate with the homogenising force of the model minority myth? What do they think of the multicultural society that includes them as a different category of migrants but excludes them from its public discussions? Drawing on an exploratory study of five young Dutch-Chinese, this essay deliberates on their intricate relationships with the model minority myth, the integration paradigm and the multiple demands political and popular discourses are imposing onto them. While generally subscribing to the myth, they use at least three strategies to negotiate with the “success story” without fundamentally questioning the category itself: it is not entirely good, not entirely true or not entirely relevant.
This article by Yiu Fai Chow was first published in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 4 (2009). Click here for the full text.
Picture credit: Golden Palace