Working Paper

Political Exclusion and the Politics of Recognition Among the Second Generation: The Swiss Citizenship Debate

Published 1 January 2007 / By Susanne Wessendorf

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"No pizza without migrants." This kind of slogan was used in a campaign in Switzerland which fought for facilitated access to Swiss citizenship for migrants and their children. Members of the second generation, the children of migrants born in Switzerland, were particularly active in this political mobilisation. By emphasising their contributions and their 'cultural' belonging to Switzerland, they essentialised 'the second generation' as well-integrated young professionals. Their campaign was countered by right-wing parties with posters showing Swiss identity cards with photos of Osama Bin Laden to demonstrate what kind of people might become Swiss citizens if the laws changed. This article discusses the kind of culturalist discourse used by both those who struggle against political exclusion, and those who promote this exclusion. It takes a historical perspective and shows that culturalist discourses against migrants have been there for a long time, but the content and the arena of contestation change over time.


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