The Crises of Multiculturalism

The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age, July 2011, Zed Books, ISBN-10: 1848135807

Across the West, something called multiculturalism is in crisis. Regarded as the failed experiment of liberal elites, commentators and politicians compete to denounce its corrosive legacies; parallel communities threatening social cohesion, enemies within cultivated by irresponsible cultural relativism, mediaeval practices subverting national ‘ways of life’ and universal values. In beautifully belligerent writing, this unique and important new book forcefully challenges this familiar narrative of the rise and fall of multiculturalism by refuting the existence of a coherent era of ‘multiculturalism’ in the first place.

After an inspiring foreword by Guardian-journalist Gary Younge, the authors argue that what we are witnessing is not so much a rejection of multiculturalism as a rejection of lived multiculture. In documenting mainstream racism and the anxieties that inform it, Lentin and Titley show that the crisis is a projection of neoliberal societies’ disjunctures. This book combines theory with a reading of contemporary events and argues that challenging this notion provides activists with a chance to ultimately transcend resurgent racism.

Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley offer a powerful and persuasive account of how multiculturalism has been sentenced to death. Drawing on a vast array of sources, voices and examples, they show how laments on the failure of multiculturalism create a political and affective landscape in which racism is simultaneously repudiated and reproduced. A necessary and important book.

Sara Ahmed, Professor of Race and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College

Lentin & Titley’s fierce critique provides a much-needed critical analysis of multiculturalism’s ineffectuality in opposing the racism rising in Europe today. The smiling rhetoric of tolerance, we learn here, is still produced by sharp white teeth. Highly recommended.

Howard Winant, Center for New Racial Studies, University of California

Reviews

The central arguments of the book are insightful and elegantly constructed, with abundant evidence. Its critique is attentive, not dismissive; this is no polemic. Its international comparativeanalysis is ambitious, and it proves equal to the challenge. Its ideology analysis, both of thecrises of multiculturalism and the ‘posting’ of racism, is incisive.

Scott Poynting, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 2012 1-3 iFirst.

…any scholar or student interested in the current debates concerning multiculturalism will find the book invaluable, quite apart from the pressing points discussed above, for the impressive range of academic perspectives detailed through the course of its argumentation. This in itself will endow the reader with a salutary overview of the varied positions currently apparent in the discussion on multiculturalism  ranging from normative political theory, to
critical race scholars, to the more generic and recognizable brand of right-wing demagogue.

Sivamohan Valluvan, Social Identities, 2012 1-5 iFirst

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