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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 2 .

Strangers, ambivalence and social theory
Bülent Diken

(Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998)
352pp. Index. Bibl. Hb.: £45.00; ISBN 1-84014-522-6.

A joint publication of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations of the University of Warwick and the Danish Centre for Migration and Ethnic Studies this volume is an ambitious and sophisticated attempt to put the question of immigration into the framework of social theory. The politics of immigration, globalization, the economic dimension involved or the structural framework of immigration, social and spatial segregation, the arguments over tradition and cultural difference, are all issues addressed in the book under the light of the work provided by theorists like Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu and Bauman among many others. The case study is the Turkish immigrant population in Denmark; an interesting case involving on the one hand an EU country with a tradition in democracy, human rights and social policies and on the other an immigrant population who's nationality is often seen as a problematic element in various EU countries or is even subjected to racist prejudice and discrimination.

Although, the relevance for ethnic conflict is not straightforward parallels can be drawn if we realise that issues of immigration, ethnicity and conflict can all be analysed on the same set of self-other relations. The process of othering immigrants and ethnic groups shares much more than is perhaps commonly understood. The overall project that Diken has undertaken has an immense depth and its intellectual boundaries extend well beyond any single one discipline and approach or for that case the issues involved in the debates about immigration. If there is one point of weakness that is the non-accessibility of the book. By moving into elaborate theoretical schemes, deep intellectual waters and by using enough of the specialised jargon Diken's work unfortunately fails to present an accessible reading for practitioners or even for those not aware of particular theoretical debates.

Ioannis Armakolas,
INCORE - University of Ulster

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