Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 261–263 | Cite as

Anne Phillips. Multiculturalism Without Culture

Princeton University Press, Oxford, 2007, 202 pp, Price £18.95 (HB), ISBN 9780691129440
  • Sonya Fernandez
Book Review

Anne Phillips’ Multiculturalism without culture is a fascinating book which grapples with the dilemmas of multiculturalism whilst staying true to an “unashamed normative commitment to the principle of equality” (p. 1).

For Phillips, the problem with attempts at multicultural theorising is twofold. Firstly, the increasing trend towards cultural relativism negates any efforts to engage meaningfully with issues of gender inequalities and oppression. Drawing upon criticisms aimed at Susan Moller Okin’s “Is multiculturalism bad for women?” (Cohen et al. 1999) she illustrates how the fear of being pigeon-holed as culturally imperialistic has resulted in a ‘paralysis’ of feminist theorising which shies away from any worthwhile normative critique of problematic, gender-based cultural practices such as female genital cutting, child marriage and patriarchal rights of unilateral divorce (p. 2). Phillips’ second concern lies with the deployment of claims of gender inequality as a means by which...


  1. Cohen, Joshua, Matthew Howard, and Martha Nussbaum, eds. 1999. Is multiculturalism bad for women? Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Crime and PolicingCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

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