On Saturday I will be presenting a paper at Warwick’s Graduate Conference in Political Theory. My paper will be on multiculturalism; specifically, how the proclamations that multiculturalism is dead (or irrelevant or morally wrong) are mistaken. The principal claim will be that one cannot talk about “multiculturalism” or about “multiculturalists” as if they are a coherent group.
I will use Wittgenstein’s family-resemblance (following Tully and Modood) to make my case. I will briefly outline Kymlicka’s theory of multicultural citizenship and criticise some of its aspects, challenging his conception of culture (based predominantly on the feminist critiques) and then move on to address his selection of ethnic nationality as the marker for cultural membership. This section will take the most part of the presentation.
In doing so, I hope to demonstrate that disagreements over a theory of multiculturalism are mostly disagreements about the underlying ideological assumptions of individual theorists. My aim is to explain that one should be extra cautious towards holistic dismissals of multiculturalism since multiculturalism is not a discipline and therefore cannot be dismissed altogether. I will suggests that what is refereed to as “multiculturalism” is a series of theories, which although they share some similar attributes, none are consistent across all (or most) of them.
In my introductory slide I have two quotes, one from Brian Barry and another one from David Cameron where they both attack multiculturalism as a unified set of policies/theories. Obviously Cameron and Barry share almost nothing else in common; the first is the representative of the political right in the UK and the other is one of the most important British political philosophers of the 20th century, and one of the most prominent figures of the academic left. This is to show that people with different backgrounds and motives can use similar arguments to advance their agendas.
I am currently working on the presentation. I decided to a powerpoint presentation rather than give them a double-sided sheet of paper. I am a bit stressed, but not too much. I hope to get a lot of feedback as the paper is on its very initial stages.
I decided not to read out loud parts of the paper but rather talk them through the powerpoint presentation. I don’t know how that will go, as I am not a native English speaker. I have written down what I’ll say just in case.