Critical Multiculturalism: Rethinking Multicultural and Antiracist Education

Critical Multiculturalism: Rethinking Multicultural and Antiracist Education

Critical Multiculturalism: Rethinking Multicultural and Antiracist Education

Critical Multiculturalism: Rethinking Multicultural and Antiracist Education


This text aims to bring together two movements, multiculturalism and anti-racism, which have previously been distant to each other. Different emphasis has meant that classroom practice has been multicultural, while anti-racism accentuates life-style.


The catalyst for this volume was a 1993 book review in New Community by Barry Troyna. In that review, he compared two recent edited collections on multicultural education-one from Britain and one from the US-and made the comment that, given their differing national concerns and trajectories, each would have benefited considerably from knowledge of the other. As he concluded, 'the need for dialogue between the two is plain for all to see' (1993, p. 372).

As it happened, this was something which I had actually been thinking about for some time. I had already attempted to reconcile debates on multiculturalism on both sides of the Atlantic in my own work on multicultural education in New Zealand. This view was reinforced on my subsequent arrival in Britain in 1993. It was clear to me then, as now, that the unhelpful dichotomization of multicultural and antiracist education throughout the 1980s in Britain still lingered on. It was equally clear to me that a necessary and long overdue rapprochement between British multiculturalists and antiracists could be facilitated by a greater understanding of North American debates around multiculturalism and critical pedagogy. Barry Troyna's review prompted me to action, and this, some five years later, is the result.

Fittingly then, this collection is dedicated to Barry. I am only sorry that he is not here to see it. His untimely death from cancer in February 1996 was a personal and professional loss to many, myself included. As a committed antiracist in the British tradition, there is no doubt much in here with which he would have disagreed. He was sceptical to the end about the value of multiculturalism and its potential reconcilement with antiracism. However, he also shared a great deal of common ground with the particular interests and concerns of this volume. His work (and his life) was characterized by a passionate and unshakeable commitment to social justice in general and to antiracism in particular-a commitment that was grounded in the experiences of his own working-class Jewish childhood in North London. He was especially concerned that the academic pursuit of antiracism was always linked to, and outworked in educational policy and practice-that it actually made a difference for students. And, as his many collaborators over the years will attest, he demonstrated in his own work the merits of an inclusive and democratic approach to research practice. The absence of his eloquent, impassioned, and often good humoured perspective remains a significant and still tangible loss.

In addition, thanks are due to the many who helped me to see this project to its eventual (and belated) conclusion. To my fellow contributors for agreeing to participate, for putting up with my harrying, and for getting there in the end. To first Malcolm Clarkson, and then (upon Malcolm's retirement) Anna Clarkson at Falmer Press for their encouragement and, most of all, patience with regard to the inevitable

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