Jesse van Amelsvoort – Minorities, Migration, Mediation: Expressing Sense of Belonging in Multilingual Europe

Jesse van Amelsvoort | Minorities, Migration, Mediation: Expressing Sense of Belonging in Multilingual Europe | University of Groningen – Campus Fryslân | Supervisors: prof. dr. Goffe Jensma, prof. dr Margriet van der Waal, dr Matt Coler | September 2017 – August 2021

This research project investigates the role multilingual minority writers can play in processes of cultural integration in contemporary Europe. In a globalising world, the borders that once delineated and defined nation-states are becoming less pronounced and less important; at the same time, we witness a movement to reinstate those borders in less geographical, more cultural terms. Nationalism, or feelings of national belonging, is back. Thus, minority groups who are defined in relation to the nation-state they live in – either because they have crossed its borders (migrants) or because they form a localised pocket with an other language and culture – have to redefine their position.

For these minorities, writers are privileged, representative figures, who are frequently seen to speak on behalf of the larger group. This societal role finds its way into their work, in which they respond to the majoritarian perceptions that cast them as representatives. Thus, they start to mediate between minority and majority. In this research, I approach this mediation from a triple perspective: the world, the work and the writer. Analyses of individual literary texts are accompanied by interpretations of authors’ posture and place in the literary field. Thus, the research hopes to capture the positions that are available to minority writers, and the work they can do vis-à-vis cultural integration, in both their literary production and through societal circumstances.