National belonging rooted in history? A study among adolescents in postcolonial and multicultural Mauritius

F.M. van der Werf, Maykel Verkuyten, B. Martinovic, Caroline Ng Tseung-Wong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperOther research output


When does one belong? In national contexts this is a relevant question as national belonging can enhance intergroup relations and provide certain rights. However, people have different views on which criteria are relevant for defining who is and who is not a member of a nation. In this light, the present study examines how adolescents in Mauritius – a multicultural country in the Indian Ocean that became independent in 1968 from Britain – define belonging to the Mauritian nation. The study focuses upon the criteria Mauritian adolescents use to define unity amidst the diversity of ethnic and religious groups and the role history plays in this. To what extent do they focus on shared ancestry, shared traditions and a shared past? Related to the criteria adolescents use to define belonging to the Mauritian nation, the extent to which they think national belonging can be changed, and how this might differ across ages, is examined as well. To these ends sociological, social psychological and development psychological theories about defining national identity, permeability of group boundaries and cognitive development are employed. Using content analysis and regression analyses the questions “What makes a person Mauritian?” and “Is it possible to stop being Mauritian?” asked to 2327 adolescents (age 11-19 years) in 2007 are analysed. The expectation is that the older adolescents are, the more complex their definition of being a member of the nation will be, and the more likely they are to have a nuanced view on the extent to which it is possible to change national belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventEU COST Action IS1205 Final Conference: Agents through Time: How Do People Make History - University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 6 Jul 20168 Jul 2016


ConferenceEU COST Action IS1205 Final Conference


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