Comparative Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Multiculturalism: Lessons from the Commonwealth
Chapter from the book: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M. 2019. Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice.
Chapter 12 provides a philosophically-inflected comparison of the different historical cases, unpacking their overall implications for contemporary multiculturalism. It identifies the dominant approaches to cultural diversity in theory and practice, and shows how the cases highlight their potential weaknesses and strengths. It offers explanations for the different forms of multiculturalism across the Commonwealth, yet also draws out their common roots in the intersection of colonial and liberal governance. The chapter argues that the current theory and practice of multiculturalism have contributed to an unhelpful “siloing” of issues, groups and rights. In unpacking this claim, it provides empirical support to prominent philosophical critiques of multiculturalism grounded in the socially constructed nature of culture. The chapter ultimately demonstrates that cultural diversity challenges fundamental liberal-democratic norms and related assumptions regarding the nature of the nation-state. Overall, conclusion the volume indicates that a holistic and fruitful form of multiculturalism would require reforming our modes of governance to make them much polycentric in structure, and pluralist in orientation.