Marco Martiniello

The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point

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