Anglo-multiculturalism: Contradictions in the politics of cultural diversity as risk

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Journal Article
International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 2006, 2 (3), pp. 249 - 266
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The continuing controversy over the place of multiculturalism within national political cultures has been highlighted by recent international policy debates. Nations with European, and especially Anglo-Celtic, roots have been forced into a major re-assessment of their strategies in relation to culturally diverse populations living within the nation-state. The dynamics underlying these tensions reflect fundamental fissures that global terrorism has exposed, sometimes instigating the portrayal of international rifts as confrontations of civilizations. Great Britain and Australia have long historic links, sharing many cultural orientations, the one of course the founder through invasion of the other. To some extent they have shared a commitment to policies of multiculturalism, which they saw as ways of reducing risks of social conflict in late modernity. They both now experience societal debates where multiculturalism has come under strong political critique ironically, for amplifying risk. Both societies have presented themselves to the international community as beacons of tolerance and diversity, as successful expressions of multiculturalism, and as examples of the power of the core values of Anglo-liberalism. Yet external audiences sometimes comment, and internal critics have persuasively argued, that such representations disguise systematic structures of racialized inequality masked by surface egalitarian discourses. As these contradictions become ever more apparent, we are thus directed towards a re-formulation of what a multicultural project would require if it is to demonstrate sufficient robustness to survive much into this century.
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