Workshop: Uncertainties in the Crisis of Multiculturalism

Jacqueline Urla, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Jaime Palomera, University of Barcelona
Mikel Aramburu, University of Barcelona


Many European countries (with or without a history of multicultural policies) have seen a highly publicized backlash against the policies of multiculturalism. Has multiculturalism failed as some political leaders argue? And if so, what exactly does that mean and what has produced it? Is the increasing pressure on public resources, in the current context of social cuts, reinforcing neo-assimilationist discourses? This workshop invites papers that will explore the uncertainties and fears surrounding cultural diversity and heritage in the so-called "post multicultural" moment. In depth ethnographic research offers the possibility to nuance generalizations about the rise and current fall of multiculturalism, record alternate perspectives, and document shifts manifest in institutional practices, discourse, and everyday life. We invite papers that explore the current critique of multiculturalism from a variety of angles including any of the following.

1) What are the failings of multicultural policies from the perspective of migrant or minority communities?

2) What differences have anthropologists observed between the ways in which migrants and policy makers conceptualize multiculturalism and enact integration?

3) What can case studies teach us about the features of intercultural heritage promotion that seem to help or hinder building bridges between migrant and host societies?

4) How do current criticisms of the threat posed by migrants compare to those made against earlier waves of migration?

5) Is it true, as Kymlicka has argued, that there are yet no "credible alternatives" to liberal multiculturalism, or does our work point to other formulas for understanding and reconciling cultural diversity?