The Multiculturalism of Fear

By Jacob T. Levy | Go to book overview

7 Blood and Soil, Place or Property: Liberalism, Land, and Ethnicity

The Neglect of Territory

Contemporary normative theorists of nationalism and ethnicity 1 typically conceptualize nationhood and ethnicity as primarily cultural. That is, they have to do with ways of life, with languages spoken and tales told and values embodied and worth recognized. Nationhood and ethnicity are not understood as political matters; nor are they thought to concern material goods in any important way. In this chapter I argue that nationalism and indigenous ethnic politics cannot be well understood without reference to at least one material good: land. Nationalist and indigenous movements conflict with each other and with liberal societies about the control and possession of land but also about its social meaning, the kind of good that it is. Culturalist accounts of ethnicity may be more easily reconcilable with liberalism and with each other; but a liberal political theory which is concerned to mitigate or minimize ethnic conflicts must develop a framework for thinking about disputes over land.

In Liberalism, Community, and Culture, Will Kymlicka puts forward an account of linguistic culture as providing a context for choice, a

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