Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity

Article excerpt

Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), ix + 374pp. Cased. ISBN 978-0-19- 928040-7.

Multiculturalism, as an approach to constructing fully democratic and inclusive societies, is now emerging within international contexts through the activities and recommendations of international agencies. Kymlicka's aim in this book is to analyse the international diffusion of multiculturalism. There are three main stages in the argument: an analysis of the development of international concerns with minority rights; an outline and evaluation of liberal multiculturalism; and an exploration of the complications and paradoxes arising from the international spread of multiculturalism.

The internationalisation of concerns with minority rights has developed rapidly. The postwar emphasis on universal rights, particularly through the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, changed within decades. Recognition of the rights of ethno-cultural minorities and indigenous peoples is now embedded in the guidelines of the United Nations, European organisations and other international agencies. Kymlicka notes that 'the international environment today is profoundly more sympathetic to minority claims than thirty or forty years ago' (p. 44).

The three central chapters of the book focus on the qualities of liberal multiculturalism: analysing its forms; exploring the reasons for its emergence and growth; and considering its strengths and limitations. Kymlicka analyses three types of multiculturalism, distinguishing them by their accommodation of the rights of indigenous peoples, their adaptation to the claims of groups claiming a national identity (such as the Québecois in Canada), and their treatment of immigrant groups. He cites cross-national research into the policies of nine Western democracies to construct a 'multiculturalism policy index': Canada is located as 'strongly multicultural' with reference to all three types of multiculturalism. …

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