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About Markha Valenta

Markha Valenta lives in Amsterdam and works at Radboud University Nijmegen. Her current work concerns the politics of religion and culture in global cities, international relations and secular democracies, with a focus on north America, western Europe, and India. A corresponding concern of the last decade has been the accommodation and discrimination of Muslim minorities in secular democracies since 9/11. She has also worked for the Scientific Council for Government Policy and is a regular participant in Dutch debates on these issues.

Her openDemocracy column is Inter Alia.

Articles by Markha Valenta

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

John McCain: on mourning a principled man … of violence

To McCain – with consequences for all of us – the Vietnam war was a memory of violence done to himself and other Americans, not the criminal mass murder of America’s war machine.

The Dutch elections – making sense of its fractures

It was the al Qaeda attacks in 2001, followed in quick succession by two political murders, that completely altered not just the landscape but the logic of Dutch politics.

Inter alia - a thought

For now, Israel is too powerful. An uprising may assert the right to life, land, and dignity. But it will not change the brutal facts on the ground.

Neoliberal realpolitik: choking others in our name

This lack of lived experience with the violence of our state entails an almost inevitable blindness to the deepening divide between those our states protect and those whose life it represses, expels, and humiliates.

Embracing the dissenting Jew (from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv)

Should Tel Aviv become the sister city of Amsterdam? And if Amsterdam says no, is the city giving in to anti-Semitic forces - or daring to embrace critical Jewish voices in a way Israel no longer can?

Charlie Hebdo – one week later

It has been exhausting having to confront the visceral divisions among us about the nature of what happened, the roles of religion, geopolitics, and racism. And the possibility that the west, thinking it ‘is Charlie’, has been spitting on their graves.

The Goebbels effect

Let us stand still and recognize what has happened in the Dutch repudiation of Geert Wilders and embrace of Moroccan-Dutch – in all its ambivalence – but not cheer it, yet.

The moral sadism of the Dutch State

Desperate to eject some refugees it does not want, the Netherlands is refining the art of radical deprivation. No single step, no single decision, no single action in this process is horrible. Yet the cumulative effect is grotesque.

The pornography of equality

The silence of our politicians on women’s security in public spaces is in striking contrast to their tremendous responsiveness to the sight of brown men insulting white women. The real problem is that in western society women’s equality and women’s pornographization have gone hand-in-hand.

Alternatives to the nationalism of the conspicuously ignorant

The accounts, symbols and feelings that we have about national identity were largely imagined, created and popularized in the nineteenth century. The word ‘nationalism’ itself dates from the early nineteenth century and marked the increasing use of national identity in order to make political claims. So to argue that national identity is pre-political is itself a political statement. 

All stick and no carrot

Why are Europe's fiscal technocrats so afraid of democracy? There is no evidence that good economics requires keeping European peoples out of the equation.

Breivik: killing the left

However nuanced, it is striking how little extant interpretations attend to the fact that Breivik’s most grotesque violence was not directed at Muslims or immigrants as such but at the youth members of the Norwegian Social Democrats.

The future of Islamophobia: the liberal, the Jew, the animal

The ritual slaughter of animals has become the last of many areas of contention that are changing the shape of our public domains. The way in which Islamophobia is becoming a part of our public ‘common sense’ has complex knock-on effects, not least for our Jewish minorities.

Multiculturalism and the politics of bad memories

‘Multiculturalism’ entails society offering a full range of prospects, membership, and respect to all its members – regardless of cultural and religious differences –while also creatively accommodating them in a fashion that is both morally persuasive and practically effective for the majority of society. Has Europe ever tried it?

The Clash of Clichés

Does America want Europe to fail in its accommodation of Muslims? Passing remarks by politicians are often amplified by the international media, but sometimes we should ask why

Saint Nicholas: the hard politics of soft myths

While packed full of humour and touchy subjects, the Dutch celebration of Saint Nicholas is at once an enduring testimony to the country´s racial imagination and one of the most promising sites of its disruption.

Why Geert Wilders is not Liu Xiaobo

Cas Mudde was quite right to point out recently how liberal arguments are being used in the interests of illiberal attacks on Muslims. However, in the Dutch case this reflects anything but a progressive national consensus

Introducing Inter Alia

Markha Valenta opens up a new openDemocracy space - Inter Alia - for the discussion of politics, religion and culture

The success of Islamophobia

Today, we see that the rules of western European racism are shifting. On the one hand, they are becoming less racialist; on the other hand they are seeking to become official. How should we Europeans understand this, and how should we respond? In the first of her Inter Alia columns, Markha Valenta looks at the cross-continental emergence of Islamophobia.

Facing up to Islam in the Netherlands

As the Dutch parliament considers banning the burka from all public spaces, a measure that would apply to fifty or so women in total, Markha Valenta explores how a piece of clothing is disturbing the Netherlands' tradition of tolerance.

Once again, the Netherlands surprises. Flying in the face of a centuries-old commitment to freedom of religion, of conscience, and of expression, it is about to prohibit Muslim women from covering their faces in public.

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