This article revisits the ‘historical coincidence’ of the process of ‘depillarisation’ and the institutionalisation of Islam in the Netherlands. It critically considers the established Dutch narrative of pillarisation, i.e. the organisation of the social body along confessional or sectarian lines, and the way in which this historical formation of Dutch secularism is mobilised within contemporary discussions about multiculturalism. This article further explores how depillarisation accounts figure within ‘the Muslim question’ in the Netherlands. While acknowledging that depillarisation is a multidimensional concept, it engages the argument that, on a structural level, Muslim claims of recognition and institutionalisation vis-à-vis the Dutch state were crucial for the process of depillarisation. The article thus reverses the suggestion that Muslims arrived ‘too late’ in an already depillarized society, and draws attention to the constitutive role of Muslims in the ongoing process of nation-building and secularism in the Netherlands.
See notably: Vink“Beyond the Pillarisation Myth”; Duyvendak, J.W. & P. Scholten, “Questioning the Dutch multicultural model of immigrant integration”Migrations Société(special issue ‘Beyond models of integration: France the Netherlands and the Crisis of National Models’ ed. C. Bertossi & J.W. Duyvendak) (2009); Maussen Marcel “Pillarization and Islam: Church-state traditions and Muslim claims for recognition in the Netherlands” Comparative European Politics vol. 10 3 (2012) pp. 337-353.
Sengers Erik“Dutch and Catholic. The Catholic Church and Dutch Catholics in the Dutch nation state since 1795”Religious Newcomers and the Nation State: Political Culture and Organized Religion in France and the NetherlandsEric Sengers & Thijl Sunier (eds.) (Delft: Eburon 2010). p. 80.
Knippenberg Hans“Assimilating Jews in Dutch nation-building: the missing pillar”Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie93: 2 (2002) pp. 191–207; Frishman Judith & Hetty Berg (eds.) Dutch Jewry in a Cultural Maelstrom 1880-1940 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2008).