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Making a case for multiculture: from the `politics of piety' to the politics of the secular?

Pathak, Pathik (2008) Making a case for multiculture: from the `politics of piety' to the politics of the secular? Theory, Culture & Society, 25, (5), pp. 123-141. (doi:10.1177/0263276408095219).

Record type: Article


The horror of 7/7 and the radicalization of young British Muslims have prompted a flurry of obituaries gleefully chronicling the demise of multiculturalism. This article turns the clock back to revisit Bhikhu Parekh's Rethinking Multiculturalism, the scholarly cousin of the report by the Runnymede Commission on The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain, both published in 2000. It argues that multiculturalism has never been as universally acceptable as recent critiques would lead us to believe, but also that philosophical multiculturalism (of which Parekh's is totemic) is the unfortunate victim of a lazy conflation with political multiculturalism. While Parekh's multiculturalism is worryingly sympathetic to the prevailing management of cultural diversity, it also illuminates the orthodox Left's elective disengagement with questions of culture, ethnicity and religion. Recent events have brought home the message that neglecting the complexity of belonging only strengthens the impulse for sectarian collectivism. They awaken us to the fact that Britain's emerging political actors will be multiculturalism's children: citizens who refract their interests through the lens of their inherited cultures. The question is whether we constitute the fact of cultural diversity as a full stop, as Parekh does, or whether we creatively seize it to enable `multicultures' of social justice, as this article advocates.

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Published date: September 2008
Keywords: anti-racism, ethnicity, human rights, justice, the left, multiculturalism, politics
Organisations: Sociology & Social Policy


Local EPrints ID: 186861
ISSN: 0263-2764
PURE UUID: f1ac5659-ea7b-4752-8c78-2ba66231451e

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Date deposited: 16 May 2011 10:27
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:46

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