Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights

Clarendon Press
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The increasingly multicultural fabric of modern societies has given rise to many new issues and conflicts, as ethnic and national minorities demand recognition and support for their cultural identity. This book presents a new conception of the rights and status of minority cultures. It argues that certain sorts of `collective rights' for minority cultures are consistent with liberal democratic principles, and that standard liberal objections to recognizing such rights on grounds of individual freedom, social justice, and national unity, can be answered. However, Professor Kymlicka emphasises that no single formula can be applied to all groups and that the needs and aspirations of immigrants are very different from those of indigenous peoples and national minorities. The book discusses issues such as language rights, group representation, religious education, federalism, and secession - issues which are central to understanding multicultural politics, but which have been surprisingly neglected in contemporary liberal theory.
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About the author

Will Kymlicka is Research Director of the Canadian Centre for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Ottawa, and Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, Carleton University. His previous books include: Liberalism, Community and Culture; Contemporary Political Philosophy and Justice in Political Philosophy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Clarendon Press
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Published on
Sep 19, 1996
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780191622458
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Civil Rights
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Conflicting claims about culture are a familiar refrain of political life in the contemporary world. On one side, majorities seek to fashion the state in their own image, while on the other, cultural minorities press for greater recognition and accommodation. Theories of liberal democracy are at odds about the merits of these competing claims. Multicultural liberals hold that particular minority rights are a requirement of justice conceived of in a broadly liberal fashion. Critics, in turn, have questioned the motivations, coherence, and normative validity of such defenses of multiculturalism. In Equal Recognition, Alan Patten reasserts the case in favor of liberal multiculturalism by developing a new ethical defense of minority rights.

Patten seeks to restate the case for liberal multiculturalism in a form that is responsive to the major concerns of critics. He describes a new, nonessentialist account of culture, and he rehabilitates and reconceptualizes the idea of liberal neutrality and uses this idea to develop a distinctive normative argument for minority rights. The book elaborates and applies its core theoretical framework by exploring several important contexts in which minority rights have been considered, including debates about language rights, secession, and immigrant integration.

Demonstrating that traditional, nonmulticultural versions of liberalism are unsatisfactory, Equal Recognition will engage readers interested in connections among liberal democracy, nationalism, and current multicultural issues.

The peoples of Greater Central Asia – not only Inner Asian states of Soviet Union but also those who share similar heritages in adjacent countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran, and the Chinese province of Xinjiang – have been drawn into more direct and immediate contact since the Soviet collapse. Infrastructural improvements, and the race by the great powers for access to the region’s vital natural resources, have allowed these peoples to develop closer ties with each other and the wider world, creating new interdependencies, and fresh opportunities for interaction and the exercise of influence. They are being integrated into a new, wider economic and political region which is increasingly significant in world affairs, owing to its strategically central location, and its complex and uncertain politics. However, most of its inhabitants are pre-eminently concerned with familial and local affairs.

This work examines the viewpoints and concerns of a selection of groups in terms of four issues: government repression, ethnic group perspectives, devices of mutual support, and informal grounds of authority and influence. Responding to a need for in-depth studies concerning the social structures and practices in the region, the book examines trends and issues from the point of view of scholars who have lived and worked "on the ground" and have sought to understand the conditions and concerns of people in rural as well as urban settings. It provides a distinctive and timely perspective on this vital part of the world.

We are currently witnessing the global diffusion of multiculturalism, both as a political discourse and as a set of international legal norms. States today are under increasing international scrutiny regarding their treatment of ethnocultural groups, and are expected to meet evolving international standards regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, national minorities, and immigrants. This phenomenon represents a veritable revolution in international relations, yet has received little public or scholarly attention. In this book, Kymlicka examines the factors underlying this change, and the challenges it raises. Against those critics who argue that multiculturalism is a threat to universal human rights, Kymlicka shows that the sort of multiculturalism that is being globalized is inspired and constrained by the human rights revolution, and embedded in a framework of liberal-democratic values. However, the formulation and implementation of these international norms has generated a number of dilemmas. The policies adopted by international organizations to deal with ethnic diversity are driven by conflicting impulses. Pessimism about the destabilizing consequences of ethnic politics alternates with optimism about the prospects for a peaceful and democratic form of multicultural politics. The result is often an unstable mix of paralyzing fear and naïve hope, rooted in conflicting imperatives of security and justice. Moreover, given the enormous differences in the characteristics of minorities (eg., their size, territorial concentration, cultural markers, historic relationship to the state), it is difficult to formulate standards that apply to all groups. Yet attempts to formulate more targeted norms that apply only to specific categories of minorities (eg., "indigenous peoples" or "national minorities") have proven controversial and unstable. Kymlicka examines these dilemmas as they have played out in both the theory and practice of international minority rights protection, including recent developments regarding the rights of national minorities in Europe, the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas, as well as emerging debates on multiculturalism in Asia and Africa.
"This is an in-depth examination of a slippery and contradictory subject. Knowledge alone is not enough for this type of project. It takes breaking out of narrow conceptual cages and unsettling what we think of as stable meanings. The author brings all of this to life in often unforgettable ways."
- Saskia Sassen, Professor, Columbia University

"National identities were once taken largely for granted in social science. Now they are part of an even more complex 'politics of belonging' that challenges both public affairs and the categories of social science. Nira Yuval-Davis offers a nuanced account that will be important for scholars and all those concerned with contemporary politics."
- Craig Calhoun, Director, LSE

This is a cutting-edge investigation of the challenging debates around belonging and the politics of belonging. Alongside the hegemonic forms of citizenship and nationalism which have tended to dominate our recent political and social history, Nira Yuval-Davis examines alternative contemporary political projects of belonging constructed around the notions of religion, cosmopolitanism and the feminist 'ethics of care'.

The book also explores the effects of globalization, mass migration, the rise of both fundamentalist and human rights movements on such politics of belonging, as well as some of its racialized and gendered dimensions. A special space is given to the various feminist political movements that have been engaged as part of or in resistance to the political projects of belonging.

Yuval-Davis deconstructs notions of national and ethnic and interrogates the effects that different political projects of belonging have on members of these collectivities who are differentially located socially, economically and politically.

Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moral rights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to human societies and institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine "political animal". It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal' animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as "denizens", resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion.
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