06/09/2021 – ERCOMER Guest Seminar

The first seminar in the ERCOMER guest seminar series will be held on Monday 6th September, from 13.15 to 14.45. It shall be provided online. The talk shall be given by Dr Liza Mügge, associate professor at the political science department of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and research theme co-leader of the Diverse Europe group of the Amsterdam Research Centre for European Studies. Her research focuses on political representation and equality of ethnic/racial and sexual minorities and women in Europe. She received both a VENI and a VIDI grant from NWO, and various international competitive residential fellowships (including at WZB Social Science Centre Berlin, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Harvard Kennedy School). Her co-authored work “Whose equality? Measuring group representation” was recently awarded the Politics 2018 Best Article Award. Liza also serves as editorial advisory board member in, among others, Migration Letters, Kurdish Studies, and Politics, Groups & IdentitiesMore information can be found here.

Dr Liza Mügge (University of Amsterdam)

“Narratives in Political Representation: Maiden Speeches of Ethnic Minority Members of Parliament”

Maiden speeches, the first speech given by a newly elected Member of Parliament (MP), are a longstanding tradition in parliaments throughout the world. As a rite of passage to the corridors of political power, with personal signature. Ethnic/racial minority MPs are still newcomers in parliaments; for them, this unique moment is even more charged. How and under which conditions do ethnic minority MPs represent their minority identities in the transformative moment of the maiden speech? We show that personal stories and family histories in maiden speeches are an important vehicle for these MPs to counter stereotypes, unmute silenced cultures and share values. Minority MPs navigate a complex field of competing expectations, especially surrounding discussions on the connection between substantive and descriptive representation. The focus on the maiden speech as a political narrative sheds new light on the blurry lines between these two forms of representation. Our unique and fully representative dataset includes all 88 ethnic minority MPs who ever held a seat in Dutch parliament. This covers 74 maiden speeches that have been delivered the past 35 years, spanning 11 parliamentary terms (1986-ongoing). The analysis departs from an original framework that combines insights from political theory, legislative- and intersectional studies. Drawing on a mix of quantitative and qualitative narrative analysis we show that the representation of minority identities in maiden speeches of minority MPs is a strategic choice. The diachronic and intersectional analysis demonstrates that the relation between descriptive and substantive representation for historically marginalized groups is highly dynamic and is moderated by a range of factors. Critical mass matters: the more minority MPs there are in the parliamentary term, the more MPs refer to minority identities in their maiden speech. The ‘firsts’ of a particular intersectional group are less likely to narrate their minority identity than non-firsts. Progressive party ideology as well as the availability of women’s and ethnic/diversity caucuses within parties influence the extent to which ethnic minority MPs emphasize a minority identity. These findings contribute to timely political and academic discussions on the representation of groups that are historically politically subordinated in advanced democracies.