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Professor Modood co-authors report on Multiculturalism in Belgium

21 December 2017

Multiculturalism - How can society deal with it? 

Flanders is becoming an irreversibly multicultural society.  In 2017 the KVAB Thinkers' Programme decided to explore this urgent and sensitive topic. Two international experts were tasked with formulating policy recommendations that offer a response to several questions that count among the major challenges facing our society, in Brussels and Flanders: Tariq Modood and Frank Bovenkerk. 

You can read their final report: read online or request a printed copy (free of charge).

KVAB report on multiculturalism in Belgium Two ‘Thinkers in residence’, invited by the KVAB, initiated a reflection about multiculturalism as a mode of political accommodation of the minorities formed by immigration to Belgium (and Flanders in particular) and its implications for majority identities. The general theme of ‘Multiple identities in conflict and/or in harmony’, addressed by the Thinkers, was approached on two levels: (political) theory and the problems of practice. Each of the Thinkers presented their conclusions to various experts and stakeholders at the final symposium of June 23, 2017. Their recommendations were formulated in a final position paper, contained in this report.

Watch video from the Symposium that took place June 23, 2017

Report Summary:

  • Can we create new national stories that would enable all citizens, regardless of their background, to feel they belong to the national community?
  • What implications does that have for schools, specifically for religious education? How can crime and terrorism be confronted?

These were among the questions raised by the KVAB Thinkers’ Programme of the Academy. Recent decades have been characterised by a growing polarisation in Europe on questions of immigration and integration, and by public anxiety about infringements on the established way of life. When defining their stances, majorities tend to rely more on their own fears than on familiarity with the experiences and values of the minorities in their midst.


Tariq Modood is Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy at the University of Bristol, the founding director of the Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, and a Fellow of the British Academy. During his academic career he has worked widely on ethnic and religious minority issues: from disadvantages and opportunities in higher education and the labour market to ‘ethnic capital’; from the theory and politics of multiculturalism and secularism to political conflict and political accommodation. His approach to minority majority issues is characterised by a special focus on religious identity at a macro, ideational and symbolic level.

Frank Bovenkerk is a Dutch cultural anthropologist and criminologist. He is Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, University of Utrecht, and Professor of Radicalization at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam. He has expertise in the study of organized crime, discrimination and criminal justice in multicultural societies. He approaches the subject of multiculturalism from everyday, behavioural and interactional perspectives, providing insights into the practical side of the problems he studies.

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