Special Topics in Political Theory: Multiculturalism in Theory and Practice

Semester: 
Instructor(s): 
Units: 
4
Number: 
116C
CCN: 
32553
Times: 
TuTh 12:30-2
Location: 
50 Birge
Course Description: 

The remaking of the world since 1945 has led to increased demographic
diversity within many countries, and greater acknowledgment of
diversity’s worth. “Multiculturalism” refers to the political, legal
and philosophical debates and strategies which emerged in response to
this newfound social diversity. In this class we will survey the main
questions surrounding multiculturalism in contemporary Anglophone
political theory: What is multiculturalism? Why did it come about? How
should liberal democracies respond to it? The central debate in
political theory is whether there should be group-specific rights for
cultural minorities, and how these relate to key democratic values
such as freedom and equality. We will examine those who advocate for
special rights based on the importance of culture for autonomous
choice, social equality, and self-respect. We also consider various
challenges to such rights: for example, that they rest on the mistaken
accounts of culture and identity; or that some cultural rights are
incompatible with equality or freedom, particularly that of women and
children within minority cultures. We will also examine recent
real-world political and legal responses to multiculturalism in the
USA and across the world. Issues covered include immigration, national
minorities, indigenous peoples, identity politics, nation-state
building, liberal-democratic citizenship, constitutionalism,
nationalism, globalization, decolonization, the role of the state, the
limits of toleration, and the relationship between social theory and
practice.

Instructor: Richard Ashcroft

Instructor: Richard Ashcroft

Group visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users