A multicultural family drama: Media debates on international parental child abduction in the Netherlands

B. de Hart, Marga Altena

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


Against the background of polarised debates on migration and multiculturalism in the Netherlands, ‘mixed’ marriages and relationships have become the focus of attention. An important part of this attention is directed at international parental child abduction (IPCA). In this contribution we discuss media debates- in newspapers, books, TV-shows, films and websites- on IPCA. We argue that stories about IPCA are dominated by the frame of the maternal melodrama that affects its production, shape and content. In the maternal melodrama, the female protagonist overcomes terrible suffering and regains her dignity through sacrifices she has to make for her child (Kaplan 1992). These melodramas are multicultural, as they are framed as the unavoidable outcome of the clash of different cultures and religions. As such, they are also about larger social anxieties about multiculturalism and national belonging. Although media representations suggest that the Dutch nation identifies with the mothers, and does not tolerate separation of mothers and children, policy results in response to the media debates have been much more ambiguous and not always to the advantage of mothers in similar situations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration ein Bild geben
Subtitle of host publicationVisuelle Aushandlungen von Diversität
EditorsChristoph Rass, Melanie Ulz
PublisherSpringer VS
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783658104429
ISBN (Print)9783658104412
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'A multicultural family drama: Media debates on international parental child abduction in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this