Integrating by means of art? Expressions of cultural hybridisations in the city of Antwerp

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Identities, Volume 21, p.60–74 (2014)


This article looks at the emergence of the Murga in Antwerp. In the city of Antwerp, diversity has become a polarising characteristic of the city. This contribution about the Murga illustrates how art, as the symbolic manifestation of culture, favours integration and social cohesion. Before discussing whether the Murga is actually doing this, we shall examine how the Murga became an example of policy attempts to understand and govern diversity, which is of key importance in developing efficient strategies for enhancing social cohesion. From the policy intention regarding participation and social cohesion, we see how achieving a new shared cultural identity across ethnic groups requires a cultural hybridisation.



This article focuses on Antwerp, which is the largest and most ethnically divers city in Flanders. Diversity has become a polarising characteristic of the city. This article addresses the question if the Murga -a street fanfare that works around dance, music, word craft and constume and which is connected to a street or neighborhood- promotes integration and by extension social cohesion.



The article is not so much a empirical research paper, but is rather a discussion paper on the ways in which Murga can influence integration and social cohesion. Practices of the Murga-streef fancares are discussed alongside cultural policy objectives.