Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives

By James A. Banks | Go to book overview

knowledge or understanding of their own disadvantaged minorities, let alone accepting an obligation to remedy those disadvantages.

Similarly, Froumin (Chapter 10) suggests that for most Russian citizens, multicultural education is about enhancing their knowledge of European languages and cultures, as a way of “rejoining Europe.” It is not about enhancing their knowledge or understanding of their own sizeable (primarily Muslim) minorities, such as the Tatars, Bashkirs, or Chechens. The idea that ethnic Russians might bother to learn one of these minority languages, for example, is widely seen as absurd (Laitin, 1998).

This shouldn't surprise us. After all, members of the dominant group, as much as transnational immigrants, have an interest in acquiring the internationally marketable cultural skills that globalization rewards. Indeed, it seems to me that politicians and educational administrators are increasingly playing up this aspect of multiculturalism. In order to avoid a potential backlash against multicultural education, it is increasingly being sold as a way of enhancing the cultural capital and economic opportunities of all students, including students from the dominant group, in a context of increasing globalization. Multiculturalism, one increasingly hears, is “good business.”

Ong worries that this cosmopolitan conception of multiculturalism may become increasingly disconnected from any project of social justice at the level of the nation-state. That may be pessimistic, or premature. But for those of us who view multiculturalism as part of a larger project of building more just and inclusive societies, there surely are grounds for concern. We need to continually remind ourselves that multiculturalism is not just about expanding individual horizons, or increasing personal intercultural skills, but is part of a larger project of justice and equality (Kymlicka, 2003).


REFERENCES

Albó, X. (1994). And from Kataristas to MNRistas? The surprising and bold alliance between Aymaras and neoliberals in Bolivia. In D. Van Cott (Ed.), Indigenous peoples and democracy in Latin America (pp. 55–82). New York: St. Martin's Press.

Aleinikoff, T. A., & Klusmeyer, D. (Eds.). (2001). Citizenship today: Global perspectives and practices. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Banks, J. A., Cookson, P., Gay, G., Hawley, W. D., Irvine, J. J., Nieto, S., et al. (2001). Diversity within unity: Essential principles for teaching and learning in a multicultural society. Seattle: Center for Multicultural Education, University of Washington.

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