'An autoethnographic study on Dutch society' by Mahardhika Sjamsoe’oed Sadjad. WP 613

Mahardhika Sjamsoe’oed Sadjad

Mahardhika Sjamsoe’oed Sadjad is one of the ISS MA Research Paper Award winners for the academic year 2014-2015.

From the Research Paper Awarding Committee 2015:

“[This] winning paper is the Committee’s absolutely favorite one. It throws up a number of questions: How do we see ourselves? How do we look at somebody else? Along which lines do we divide our society? As we consider ourselves to belong to one group, where do the others belong? It is easy to judge over other people, but seldom do we dare to ask people how they see themselves. This paper is a real page-turner, beautifully written, well motivated, and demonstrating excellent research skills and an original point of view. The author is greatly aware of and ably documenting her own position in the research process, and has written up her findings in an unconventional format. This paper therefore serves as a piece for discussion representing a contemporary answer to Dutch publicist Paul Scheffer, writer of Het multiculturele drama (The multicultural drama). The writer blends her personal observations into her research in a self-reflexive way while using original ways of questioning her participants – by for example asking them to draw maps of places that were important for them. The writer thus weaves five essays into a beautiful tapestry, offering us a mirror to look closer at the notion of I versus the other in Dutch society.”

Author's abstract

This paper wishes to understand how Dutch-Muslim youth that come from families with migrant backgrounds give meaning to and position themselves within Dutch society. Written as an autoethnography, this paper consist of five essays that weave together my stories with those of my research participants’. Through my research, I explore the places my participants identify as essential to their experiences growing up in the Netherlands. These explorations are unpacked in this paper through narratives of whiteness, neighbourhoods, and the complexity of religious identities. I argue that these narratives are integral, not external, to our understanding of Dutch society. They represent a challenge to elite discourses that often generalize and misrepresent identities of young allochtoon Dutch-Muslims.

More information

Download the full text