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The Crises of Multiculturalism
Racism in a Neoliberal Age
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.
This important new book challenges this familiar narrative of the rise and fall of multiculturalism by challenging the existence of a coherent era of 'multiculturalism' in the first place. The authors argue that what we are witnessing is not so much a rejection of multiculturalism as a projection of neoliberal anxieties onto the social realities of lived multiculture. Nested in an established post-racial consensus, new forms of racism draw powerfully on liberalism and questions of 'values', and unsettle received ideas about racism and the 'far right' in Europe.
In combining theory with a reading of recent controversies concerning headscarves, cartoons, minarets and burkas, Lentin and Titley trace a transnational crisis that travels and is made to travel, and where rejecting multiculturalism is central to laundering increasingly acceptable forms of racism.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'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
'This book provides a rich and scholarly analysis of the multiple forces at play in the construction of the "death of multiculturalism" as a flexible and potent political discourse. Incisive and provocative in it's analysis; it is uncomfortable reading for those on both the left and right in politics. This is necessary reading for anyone concerned with the complex masking of racism within the rhetorical dance of national identities and globalized neo-liberal ideologies.'
Charles Husband, Centre for Applied Social Research, University of Bradford
'The Crises of Multiculturalism critically examines the entanglements inherent in the broad range of European multiculturalisms today, their "loud" rejection and yet a melancholic neediness expressed in their bemoaning. The analysis is especially incisive about the ways in which an "era of integration," as multiculturalism's contemporary expression, seeks insecurely to assert authoritative control and security in the face of threatening and fearful expressions of a burgeoning multiculture supposedly marking European nations. The authors reveal how the politics of multiculturalism continue to structure, reproduce, and render less visible contemporary racisms.Those concerned to understand the synchrony of multiculturalism, integration, and revitalized racisms across the European landscape would do well to consult this book.'
David Theo Goldberg, University of California
'Neoliberalism is deeply connected to racism: austerity, exclusion, the restriction of rights and withdrawal of freedoms -- hallmarks of both these despotic phenomena -- all mark their congruence and indeed interdependence. But in Europe and elsewhere as well the new racist regime has employed the seemingly benign and tolerant trope of multiculturalism to mask its malevolence. Lentin and Titley's fierce critique of this strategy provides a much-needed critical analysis of multiculturalism's ineffectuality in opposing the racism rising in Europe today. This book points out how racism cannot be understood as a matter of cultural difference. This book exposes the repressive assumptions that shape the politics of multiculturalism and that place the burden of inclusion on those seen as "different" and "other," rather than on the regimes of privilege and hierarchy that target immigrants, Muslims, and blacks in their effort to maintain a white "fortress Europe." The smiling rhetoric of tolerance, we learn here, is still produced by sharp white teeth. Highly recommended!'
Howard Winant, UC Santa Barbara, Director, University of California Center for New Racial Studies