Advertisement

Multicultural Liberalism

  • Katherine Smits

Abstract

Where modern liberal theorists have addressed pluralities of identity, rather than interest within a national society, they have focused upon multiculturalism, defined usually as the co-existence of several ethnic or national groups within a nation-state. Recent debate has focused on the conflicts between individual and communal rights in culturally plural societies, arising as a result of the assertion of ethnic minority cultural rights.1 As cases involving female genital mutilation and other contested cultural practices demonstrate, this controversy has public policy, as well as philosophical implications. Much of the defense of minority cultural rights from a liberal perspective derives from the work of Will Kymlicka, who rejects the atomistic and interest-based model of the subject, reasserting the role of national community in the construction of individual identity. On this basis, he argues that the state should recognize cultural survival as a collective good, necessary for individual autonomy—a recognition that translates into the legal protection of indigenous minorities and limited self-government for them under a system of multicultural citizenship.2 Kymlicka cites Mill and other nineteenth-century liberals in support of his argument that liberal principles of freedom and autonomy are compatible with the recognition of national membership.3

Keywords

National Identity National Culture Moral Belief Female Genital Mutilation Cultural Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    See e.g., Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum (eds.), Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Discussed at length in Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship: A liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community and Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 207–8; Multicultural Citizenship, 52–3.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Ibid., 89. This argument is also made by Avishai Margalit and Joseph Raz, “National Self-Determination,” Journal of Philosophy 87, 9 (September 1990): 447–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 8.
    Michael Walzer, “Comment,” in Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition, ed. Amy Gutmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 100–1.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Will Kymlicka, “Ethnic Associations and Democratic Citizenship,” Freedom of Association, ed. Amy Gutmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 180–1.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Thomas W. Pogge, “Group Rights and Ethnicity,” in Ethnicity and Group Rights (NOMOSXXXIX) ed. Ian Shapiro and Will Kymlicka (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 187–221.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    See E.P Thompson, “The Patricians and the Plebs,” in Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York: The New Press, 1993), 16–96.Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    Gareth Stedman Jones, “Working Class Culture and Working-Class Politics in London, 1870–1990: Notes on the Remaking of a Working Class,” in Languages of Class (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 182–3.Google Scholar
  11. 25.
    For a thoughtful discussion of the role of language in cultural definition, in a particular case, see Audra Simpson, “Paths Toward a Mohawk Nation; Narratives of Citizenship and Nationhood in Kahnawake,” in Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ed. Duncan Ivison, Paul Patton, and Will Sanders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 132–4.Google Scholar
  12. 26.
    Brian Walker, “Modernity and Cultural Vulnerability: Should Ethnicity be Privileged?” in Theorizing Nationalism, ed. Ronald Beiner (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999), 149–50.Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    This is in fact often the view that dominant groups take of minorities. As Andrew Hacker writes: “In the eyes of white Americans, being black encapsulates your identity. No other racial or national origin is seen as having so pervasive an effect on personality or character.” Andrew Hacker, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile and Unequal (New York: Scribner’s, 1992), 32.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    These identity intersections are discussed in: Kimberle Crenshaw, “Whose Story is It Anyway? Feminist and Antiracist Appropriations of Anita Hill” and Christine Stansell, “White Feminists and Black Realities: The Politics of Authenticity,” both in Race-ing Justice, Engendering Power, ed. Toni Morrison (New York: Pantheon, 1992), 402–40, 251–68.Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Michael Walzer, “The Communitarian Critique of Liberalism,” Political Theory 18, 1 (February 1990): 6–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 30.
    This form of reflection and evaluation would not be sufficient for autonomy according to some liberals. I am not arguing, as John Gray does e.g., that what is involved here is a distancing of the autonomous agent from her social environment and the influences of others. See John Gray, Mill on Liberty: A Defence (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), 74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 31.
    See W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Concept of Race,” in Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (Milwood: Kraus-Thomson, 1975) andGoogle Scholar
  18. Sandra Harding’s useful discussion of feminist standpoint theory in Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), 119–34.Google Scholar
  19. 32.
    I must note here that Kymlicka’s following characterization of Quebecois culture as traditional, conservative, and dominated by the Church, and the Quiet Revolution as its sudden and dramatic entry into modernity is in fact debatable. Pierre Trudeau has famously defended this interpretation of French Canadian history in “The New Betrayal of the Intellectuals” (in Federalism and French Canadian Society [Montreal: HMH, 1967]). Claude Couture argues that this characterization of Quebecois history is the product of colonial attitudes amongst anglophone social scientists. He suggests that pre—Quiet Revolution Quebec was not culturally or ideologically monolithic, but rather diverse, and subject to the same influences of urbanization and industrialization as anglophone Canada. See Claude Couture, Paddling With the Current: Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Etienne Parent, Liberalism and Nationalism in Canada (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1998), chs. 1 and 2. I am indebted to an anonymous reviewer for Palgrave for drawing this to my attention.Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    Amelie Oksenberg Rorty, “The Hidden Politics of Cultural Identification,” Political Theory 22, 1 (February 1994): 153–65.Google Scholar
  21. 36.
    See e.g., the introduction to The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 1–14.Google Scholar
  22. 41.
    Cohen, Howard, and Nussbaum, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? See also Chandran Kukathas, “Are There Any Cultural Rights?” Political Theory 20, 1 (February 1992): 105–39; and “Cultural Rights Again,” Political Theory 20, 4 (November 1992): 674–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 48.
    Bernard Yack, “Reconciling Liberalism and Nationalism,” Political Theory (February 1995): 174.Google Scholar
  24. 51.
    Yael Tamir, “The Enigma of Nationalism,” World Politics 47 (April 1995): 432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 52.
    As James Clifford argues in “Identity in Mashpee,” The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 277–346.Google Scholar
  26. 53.
    Will Kymlicka, “Misunderstanding Nationalism,” Dissent (Winter 1995): 135.Google Scholar
  27. 62.
    Charles Taylor, “The Politics of Recognition,” in Multiculturalism, ed. Amy Gutmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 60–1.Google Scholar
  28. 70.
    See e.g., Michael Sandel, Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  29. 72.
    Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), 133.Google Scholar
  30. 74.
    Gerda Lerner made an early argument for this kind of recovery in The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  31. 78.
    See e.g., Lani Gunier, “The Representation of Minority Interests,” in Classifying By Race, ed. Paul E. Peterson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 21–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Katherine Smits 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Smits

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations