Citizenship Ceremonies in Germany: A More Universalist Kulturnation
After 2000, a profound liberalization of naturalization criteria in Germany was followed by culturalist setbacks: language requirements were tightened, a civics test, a pledge of allegiance, and citizenship ceremonies were introduced. Can these developments be termed a liberal assimilationist turn in what it means to be a citizen or is this a revival of the old notion of a German cultural identity as Kulturnation (cultural nation)? The qualitative study of German citizenship ceremonies presented herein, provides an in-depth analysis of the logics of “liberal assimilation” and the nexus between culture, citizenship, and national belonging. At the ceremonies, “culture” is referenced as a universally human feature that binds people together. Conversely, culture is also presented as an individual folkloristic asset that can be used for profit and for contributing to the value of diversity. This twofold conceptual specification of “culture” is then discussed as an adaptation of the originally universalist Kulturnation idea and as a modern solution to the problem of societal integration.