Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights

Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights

Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights

Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights

Synopsis

Can the state respect cultural differences while protecting the rights of vulnerable group members, in particular women? Shachar argues that it is both theoretically needed and institutionally feasible. Rejecting prevalent solutions to this "paradox of multicultural vulnerability", Multicultural Jurisdictions argues for enhancing minorities' autonomy, while providing viable legal-institutional solutions to intra-group rights violation. This new "joint governance" approach reduces the injustice between minority groups and society, while enhancing justice within them. This book will interest students of political and social theory, law, religion, institutional design, and cultural and gender studies.

Excerpt

Over the past few years while this book was taking shape, I have been living, studying, teaching, and moving between two countries: the United States and Canada. However, the true origins of this book date back to my childhood in Israel, particularly in the city of Jerusalem. For anyone skeptical about the value of cultural and religious diversity, or the need for the protection of individual rights, a quick visit to this multi-faith, multi-ethnic, and multi-national city soon dispels all grounds for such doubt. Schoolgirls wearing the hijab, the Muezzin's calls for prayer in the mosque, the bells of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the personal law tribunals of various Christian sects, the ancient ruins of the City of David, and debates over women's prayers at the Western Wall — these disparate sounds and images combine to form the richly complex cultural mosaic known as Jerusalem. Gender tensions and collective identity markers are part of everyday life here, but they are prevalent in many other parts of the world as well.

The first half of this study explores these complex relationships and critically assesses the potentially negative internal effects of well-meaning policies of multicultural accommodation. It is my belief that we cannot comprehend the ways to resolve these tensions (let alone begin to imagine them), if we do not step back and re-evaluate the inevitable interaction that has taken place between minority groups and the state ever since the inception of modern citizenship. With a view to explaining the dynamic, I address three types of group responses to assimilation pressures, with special attention to the third or “reactive culturalist” pattern of response.

I then examine how different countries have attempted to face the challenge of respecting cultural diversity and protecting individual rights. Since all current legal and theoretical models fall somewhat short of this challenge, the second half of the book offers an analysis of different institutional designs which seek a new and better way of accommodating difference: a reduction of inequality between minority groups and the wider society, as well as an enhancement of equality within them. in the final chapters of the book, I translate this normative commitment into a concrete set of principles underlying a new approach towards dividing and . . .

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