Multiculturalism: is it the face of twenty-first century America or
merely a passing intellectual fad? With its celebration of ethnic
diversity and strong advocacy of tolerance, this contemporary
movement provides philosophical justification for many who seek to
correct social inequities. But while its proponents see it as a
means of promoting self-esteem among marginalized groups, its
critics see it as a dangerous form of relativism that culminates,
paradoxically, in a new form of intolerance.
The fourteen essays in this volume address the pros and cons of
multiculturalism and explore its relationship with liberal
democracy. A team of stellar contributors--C. Vann Woodward, Linda
Chavez, Stanley Fish, and others--offers viewpoints on
multiculturalism from the perspectives of political theory,
history, philosophy, and fiction.
The editors first help explain multiculturalism by contrasting
it with the Sixties counterculture. How is it, they ask, that
yesterday's radicals, so concerned with economic justice, have
given way to the multiculturalist preoccupation with identity
politics? The contributors then explore different facets of the
multiculturalism issue: they present disparate views of the stakes
involved as older notions of pluralism and assimilation give way to
multiculturalism; examine it in its relation to the principles of
liberal democracy; and assess its place in public education. In a
final section, the role of the arts in the multiculturalism debate
is addressed by celebrated novelists J. M. Coetzee and Mario Vargas
Because multiculturalism is a movement without a leader or
guiding document, its tenets remain difficult to define. This book
not only tells what the controversy is about but also clarifies the
concerns it should raise for thoughtful citizens. The points of
view expressed here will prove helpful to those who are trying to
frame their own opinions about multiculturalism--and they are
guaranteed to spark new debate among those who have already chosen
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