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Multicultural Dialogue

Multicultural Dialogue: Dilemmas, Paradoxes, Conflicts

Randi Gressgård
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    Multicultural Dialogue
    Book Description:

    As cross-cultural migration increases democratic states face a particular challenge: how to grant equal rights and dignity to individuals while recognizing cultural distinctiveness. In response to the greater number of ethnic and religious minority groups, state policies seem to focus on managing cultural differences through planned pluralism. This book explores the dilemmas, paradoxes, and conflicts that emerge when differences are managed within this conceptual framework. After a critical investigation of the perceived logic of identity, indicative of Western nation-states and at the root of their pluralistic intentions, the author takes issue with both universalist notions of equality and cultural relativist notions of distinctiveness. However, without identity is it possible to participate in dialogue and form communities? Is there a way out of this impasse? The book argues in favor of communities based on nonidentitarian difference, developed and maintained through open and critical dialogue.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-820-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Charles Taylor (1994), who is one of the most influential partakers in the debate on multiculturalism, approaches the multicultural dilemma as a tension between equal dignity and distinctiveness. On the one hand, he argues, we find a claim to a democratic form of equality, which presupposes that all humans are of equal value. This means that everyone is entitled to the same rights, and there is an ethical demand that all citizens in a democratic society treat one another as equals. The recognition of equal dignity is, in Taylor’s view, granted to individuals. On the other hand, we find a...

  5. Chapter 1 Dual Subjectivity and the Metaphysics of Purity
    (pp. 13-39)

    Is it possible to describe the ‘others’ and recognise them as equal and distinct on their own terms? Or does recognition render the ‘others’ opposite and subordinate to ‘us’? In what follows, I will pursue these questions by scrutinising the way in which recognition of equal dignity, on the one hand, and recognition of cultural distinctiveness, on the other, converge in a single process of assimilation and culturalisation/subordination. Assimilation denotes a process of conceptual incorporation by way of subsuming the ‘others’ under the prevailing conceptual framework. To the extent that the ‘others’ are portrayed as culturally distinct, in opposition to...

  6. Chapter 2 Non-modern Holism and Modern Totalitarianism
    (pp. 40-54)

    In Chapter 1, we saw that one characteristic feature of the modern systems of order is that order emanates from an undifferentiated whole, comprising a totalitarian horizon. However, the utopian character of the modern systems of order does not always entail implosion into nothingness. The autonomous subject is not always sacrificed to a higher cause and made into universal substance. On the contrary, the autonomous subject is at the heart of Western egalitarian ideologies. As we saw in the preceding chapter, both the republican and the liberal ideologies nourish individualism, and yet they proceed from a metaphysical notion of the...

  7. Chapter 3 Heterogeneity and the Singular Subject
    (pp. 55-73)

    In this chapter I will pursue the question as to whether the construction of the subject and the object needs to accord with Dumont’s description of the modern framework. Do we have to conceptualise difference within the logic of opposition if we defy holism? Would it be possible to conceptualise difference as other than the negation of identity? I intend to investigate whether difference can be a source of openness and critical reflection, as opposed to a consolidating counterpart of identity. As indicated above, I do not assume a holistic structure such as the one proposed by Dumont. My point...

  8. Chapter 4 Consequences of Heterogeneity
    (pp. 74-105)

    What interests us in this chapter is Lash’s assertion that Kant’s aesthetical judgement has not yet fully descended into life. The question is how it can be conceived to do so. How can we understand the heterogeneous – in terms of lack of totality and, in the human mind, a lack of omniscience – as a condition for community based on difference? In what way does theaporiabetween the singular and the general form the basis for community? I shall approach these questions through Lyotard’s philosophy, informed by Kant’s concept of the sublime. It must be noted, however, that...

  9. Chapter 5 Conditions for Dialogue
    (pp. 106-137)

    Proceeding from ‘the differend’, this chapter will shed light on a key issue pertaining to multicultural dialogue. One question to be pursued is how ‘the differend’ is manifested in the relation between ‘us’ and the ‘others’. Another question is how we can establish a multicultural dialogue that breaks with the oppositional logic of the multicultural dilemma. I will take as my starting point the totalitarianism of truth with which much social and political theory is imbued, arguing that a totalitarianism of truth allows little room for incommensurability. As we saw in the preceding chapters, a totalitarian horizon does not allow...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 138-152)
  11. References
    (pp. 153-161)
  12. Index
    (pp. 162-174)