EASA2012: Uncertainty and disquiet

Nanterre University, France, 10/07/2012 – 13/07/2012

(W062)

Uncertainties in the crisis of multiculturalism

Location V503
Date and Start Time 12 Jul, 2012 at 11:30

Convenors

Jacqueline Urla (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) email
Jaime Palomera (Universitat de Barcelona) email
Mikel Aramburu (University of Barcelona) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This workshop invites papers that will explore the uncertainties and fears surrounding cultural diversity and heritage in the so-called "post multicultural" moment.

Long Abstract

Many European countries (with or without a history of multicultural policies) have seen a highly publicized backlash against the policies of multiculturalism. Has multiculturalism failed as some political leaders argue? And if so, what exactly does that mean and what has produced it? Is the increasing pressure on public resources, in the current context of social cuts, reinforcing neo-assimilationist discourses? This workshop invites papers that will explore the uncertainties and fears surrounding cultural diversity and heritage in the so-called "post multicultural" moment. In depth ethnographic research offers the possibility to nuance generalizations about the rise and current fall of multiculturalism, record alternate perspectives, and document shifts manifest in institutional practices, discourse, and everyday life. We invite papers that explore the current critique of multiculturalism from a variety of angles including any of the following. 1) What are the failings of multicultural policies from the perspective of migrant or minority communities? 2) What differences have anthropologists observed between the ways in which migrants and policy makers conceptualize multiculturalism and enact integration? 3) What can case studies teach us about the features of heritage promotion that seem to help or hinder building bridges between migrant and host societies? 4) How do current criticisms of the threat posed by migrants compare to those made against earlier waves of migration? 5) Is it true, as Kymlicka has argued, that there are yet no "credible alternatives" to liberal multiculturalism, or does our work point to other formulas for understanding and reconciling cultural diversity?

Chair: Jacqueline Urla
Discussant: Levent Soysal, Krista Harper, Mattia Fumanti

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Multiculturalism, identities and national uncertainties in south-western Europe: the rise of xenophobia and populism in Catalonia (Spain)

Author: Montserrat Clua Fainé (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

The paper aims to explore the critique of multiculturalism through the supposed threat posed by migrants to the national identity. The paper focuses in the case of Catalonia and compare the recent rise of xenophobic and populist political discourses with some similar actions made in the past against migratory population.

Long Abstract

The analysis of the discourses about the migratory threat takes a special feature in the Catalan case, where there is an historical strong nationalist movement that seeks to defend its own Catalan national and cultural identity against Spain. A nationalist discourse that has been self-defined as a "civic nationalism" because it claims that has historically receipted and integrated the different peoples that have arrived at its territory. But it has showed in some moments a clear xenophobic discourse against immigration, especially during the 60s and 70s, against the massive arrival of Spanish migrants that was produced at that time in Catalonia (Clua 2011). Now it seems that it reappears in public sphere, to achieve political representation at last local elections (22/5/2011).

I refer mainly to the rise of PxC (Platform for Catalonia, a xenophobic far-right party) but I also refer to some candidates for mayor that are members of the PP (Popular Party, a moderate conservative party that has won recent national elections in Spain). These candidates have used a discourse of rejection to the immigration (and the problems of crime and insecurity that this supposedly implied) to win elections in cities as Badalona. But the thesis of the paper is that, before the public presence of this populist discourse against immigration (or behind or underneath), there is evidence of previous exclusion actions, that were already incubating racist discourses in towns and cities of Catalonia with a significant immigrant presence.

French far-right trajectories: against a multiculturalism that dare not speak its name

Author: Anne F Delouis (University of Orléans)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

This paper examines the life-histories of French voters who "converted" to far-right views, comparing their anti-multiculturalist arguments to German and British discourses.

Long Abstract

Clearly, France is a peculiar place as far as multiculturalism is concerned. With its official ideology of egalitarianism, the "indivisible" Republic claims universal validity. As a consequence, the existence of different ethnic or cultural groups on the French territory is hardly recognized in legal terms and official rhetoric.

However, the social reality of poor and mostly ethnic ghettoes in all major French towns became eminently visible when the 2005 riots brought them to international media attention. Living conditions and economic opportunities for suburban ghetto-dwellers have not improved since, nor have majority attitudes towards them changed significantly. On the contrary, the perceived failure of the political establishment to discuss problems linked to immigration and xenophobia makes these topics a favourite hunting ground for the Far Right, which attracts increasing numbers of voters convinced of the impossibility of multiculturalism.

The paper examines closely the personal trajectories of voters who recently "converted" to xenophobic and far-right views. In what concepts and metaphors do they cast their "conversion experience"? What events, experiences, or encounters are seen as decisive? To what extent is religion (mis)used as an argument? Rather disturbingly, some of the new far-right discourses make "creative" use of anthropological thought, claiming a threatened indigenous people status for themselves. Is it thinkable at all that there might be any common ground between these extremist views and migrants' own critiques of multiculturalism?

A comparison with public discourse about cultural diversity in Germany and the UK will identify common patterns in European critiques of multicultural policies.

Not a backlash, but a multicultural implosion from within: uncertainty and crisis in the case of South Tyrol's "multiculturalism"

Author: Dorothy Louise Zinn (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

The autonomous province of South Tyrol (Italy) features an entrenched “multicultural” regime to protect its ethno-linguistic minorities. This context would seem immune to “multicultural backlash”, yet its “separate-but-equal” model is increasingly questioned as insufficiently “multicultural”.

Long Abstract

This paper considers a case in which a regime commonly identified as "multicultural", locally entrenched and stringently defended by hegemonic politics, is nonetheless undergoing crisis and uncertainty. In the autonomous province of South Tyrol (Italy), there is a heavy social, economic, legal and discursive investment in "multiculturalism", offering a case that is often celebrated as a model of social co-existence and minority protection, and even serving as a selling point in provincial self-representations. Due to the area's peculiar history - previously belonging to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire but annexed to Italy a century ago - a "separate-but-equal" system developed as a means of defending the rights of German and Ladin linguistic minorities within the Italian state, largely as a response to the severe forms of cultural repression experienced by these groups historically. The resulting accretion of a divided society deemed "multicultural" bears within it alternative forms of multicultural coexistence. In recent years, moreover, the increasing presence of migrants has exerted new stresses on the status quo: a form of neo-assimilationist backlash on the national level, exemplified in new Italian language requirements for immigrant long-term stay permits, has provoked uncertainty and fear among some stalwart "multiculturalists" within the German-language minority, as do the growing numbers of students with a migratory background within the "multicultural" provincial school system. It remains to be seen whether or not some calls for reformulating the current regime might lead to different, and perhaps more effective, forms of "multiculturalism".

Quebec's interculturalism policy and the contours of implicit institutional discourse

Author: Samuel Shapiro (Université Laval)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

I explore how critiques of multiculturalism in Quebec since the 1960s have lead to the development of an implicit interculturalist approach as part of a broader nationalist movement. I emphasise shifts in and discrepancies between institutional and everyday discourses on cultural diversity.

Long Abstract

I will examine Quebec's critique of multiculturalism and attempt to develop interculturalism as an alternative approach to cultural pluralism since the 1960s. Significantly, Quebec's development of an implicit policy of interculturalism to manage ethno-cultural diversity has occurred at the same time as the provincial government has used its institutional powers in an attempt to define and protect Quebec's identity as the only majority French-speaking territory in North America. In a highly politicised climate, many Quebec nationalists have criticised multiculturalism for turning francophone Quebecers into one of many ethnic groups within Canada, instead of viewing the province as a territorially bounded nation with a distinct language and culture. A precarious balance exists between openness to diversity and protecting the distinctly francophone heritage and character of Quebec's long-dominant majority population, which tends to view itself as a fragile minority within North America. While politicians of different persuasions and large sectors of public opinion view interculturalism as a 'more appropriate' model to Quebec's singular geo-political predicament and an important part of Quebec's distinctiveness from the rest of Canada, the Quebec government has never comprehensively defined interculturalism, and there exists an interesting disparity between official and popular understandings of what this concept means in practice. Quebec's interculturalism policy therefore offers a revealing example for tracing shifts in institutional practices, discourses, and everyday experiences, as well as providing parallels to other (mostly European) societies where diversity has lead to significant social tensions and the questioning of multiculturalism, notably the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

The intercultural alternative to multiculturalism and its limits

Author: Katharina Bodirsky (Middle East Technical University)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Focusing on the case of Berlin, the paper critically examines intercultural policy approaches that are explicitly presented as alternative to multiculturalism and seek to activate diversity for cohesion and economic competitiveness by fostering intercultural mixing rather than cultural communities.

Long Abstract

Intercultural policies have gained salience in integration and regional development strategies in cities such as Berlin and in EU and European policy networks. Critiquing multiculturalism for having produced segregation by recognizing cultural communities, proponents of interculturalism (e.g. Wood and Landry 2008) emphasize the importance of intercultural exchange and an individual right to cultural identity combined with equality of opportunity as well as the political advertising of the value of diversity. This value, it is argued, is also economic, as intercultural exchange sparks creativity, which fosters innovation, which enhances competitiveness. Intercultural cities, it is posited, are moreover attractive to investors and the high-skilled. Based on research in Berlin and the analysis of EU documents, this paper examines why policy-makers have come to embrace interculturalism as an alternative to multiculturalism and the limits it entails for the recognition of diversity. It argues that despite its seeming inclusivity, interculturalism poses limits to what counts as support-worthy diversity which derive from liberal and neoliberal norms and the political prioritization of increased competitiveness in the neoliberal economy. Interculturalism thus feeds into the dismantling of welfare entitlements as well as processes of gentrification in the city that challenge the right to place of particular immigrant populations. Diversity in the intercultural frame thus appears as a partial concept built around particular notions of culture and class. This also becomes apparent in the anxiety that intercultural policies and policy-makers continue to betray about difference (see Eriksen 2006) - as opposed to diversity in the above sense.

Reading Sarrazin in Berlin: tense and time in tense times

Author: Christopher Sweetapple (University of Massachusetts)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

I explore the German variant of the European multicultural "crisis" from the perspective of local queer anti-racist activists in Berlin, highlighting their mobilizations of tense and history as they respond to and counter-narrate the contested present.

Long Abstract

2010 proved to be a watershed year for the national debate about multiculturalism in Germany. First, a media frenzy developed around the publication of a book-length polemic against German immigration policy and the de facto, runaway multiculturalism it was said to have spawned. Written by Thilo Sarrazin, high-ranking member of the Social Democratic Party and (now ex-)member of the Deutsche Bundesbank executive board, Sarrazin's claims and rhetoric provoked fierce media scrutiny, political ire from many political constituencies--and tremendous sales and public support. Although she distanced herself from his racialist rhetoric, Chancellor Merkel reignited the debate with her comments in October of 2010 when she said in a speech that multiculturalism in Germany "has failed, utterly failed". In this paper, I explore activist responses to these public death knells of multiculturalism. Drawing on my ethnographic research among queer anti-racism activists in Berlin, I focus on how these activists contest and respond to the death-of-multiculturalism narrative, highlighting the strategies they devise and deploy to render visible the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant foundation of this narrative which is so often occluded in public discourse. Building on recent work by Elizabeth Povinelli, I show how structural violence directed at Muslim immigrants, tucked away in the past perfect of the multiculturalism-has-failed logic, is made manifest in the figurations of the durative present these activists use to narrate their experiences of disappointment and despair, and as they articulate fantasies of anti-racist, multicultural social alternatives to neoliberal accounts of managable cultural diversity and beleaguered European exceptionalism.

When opportunity moves off-shore: multiculturalism and the French banlieue

Author: Beth Epstein (New York University-Paris)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

An examination of emergent multicultural discourses used to explain social breakdown in the troubled French suburbs. These trends are considered within the context of a globalizing economy that renders opportunity increasingly elusive, leading to ‘identity-talk’ as a way to frame social inequalities.

Long Abstract

Since the turn of this new century, problems of "culture" and "difference," diversity and multiculturalism, have made their way into public discourse in France. Across a dizzying array of polemics that includes social unrest in the country's disadvantaged suburbs, the rise of the National Front, post-colonial recriminations, and more, voices are being raised in favor of a more overt form of multiculturalist discourse as a means to think through contemporary social issues in relation to notions of race, identity, and discrimination. The integrationist French republican project, wherein racial or ethnic classifications are eschewed on the grounds that they enclose people into essentialist categories, is being outshined, some proclaim, by a more American-style focus on 'identity,' that shows up the gaps in French universalist claims.

In this paper I consider the dualities expressed in this contrast as a means to inquire into the broader implications of multicultural discourse. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in suburbs to the north and west of Paris, I push against tendencies to take these emergent identity claims at face value, to reflect rather on the interests they serve and the tensions they mediate. Situating these phenomena within the context of a globalizing economy, I argue that these trends need to be seen as efforts to grasp at readily comprehensible sources of inequality at a moment when opportunity has moved off-shore, altering the meaning of local life and politics, and diffusing the promise of social integration upon which the French republican contract depends.

Bridges and trenches: the process of place-making among migrants in Catalan working-class neighborhoods

Authors: Jaime Palomera (Universitat de Barcelona)  email
Mikel Aramburu (University of Barcelona)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Public discourse in Catalonia tends to swing between a sort of universalism and a form of assimilationism that stigmatizes all forms of ethnic difference. We will focus on how these discourses play out in the actual process of place-making in working-class neighborhoods.

Long Abstract

Catalonia does not have a tradition of multicultural policies. However, the awareness of the so-called "crisis of multiculturalism" has played an implicit role in the way that institutions have dealt with the incorporation of migrants during the last two decades. Policy-makers have been generally wary of celebrating or promoting difference among ethnic minorities and public discourse has tended to swing between two general trends: on the one hand, a universalist discourse that promotes incorporation through the acquisition of citizenship rights and "interculturalism". On the other hand, an assimilationist discourse that tends to stigmatize all forms of ethnic difference.

In our presentation, we will focus on how these discourses play out in working-class neighborhoods where there is a coexistence of migrant cohorts from an immense array of backgrounds. Against the backdrop of a growing discourse of rejection and differentiation among many neighbors, some neighborhood associations emphasize commonalities with the aim to promote class identity. These two discourses emerge and clash in contradictory forms through everyday place-making, especially around the notion of "barrio". Belonging to the "barrio" is sometimes understood as part of a historically wide and still on-going urban class struggle, where the new migration is represented as being in continuity with the past. However, a thin line divides this view from a radically different one which sees the "barrio" from a "nativist" perspective in which the old social achievements of the neighborhood residents are considered to be an exclusive property of those who can call themselves "natives".

When recognition is not enough: beyond the fiction of representation in multicultural societies

Author: Eduard Rodriguez-Martin (EHESS-CNRS)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Expectations from policy makers and requesters of public policies of multicultural recognition rarely coincide. Conceptualization of democracy as a field where any agreement is possible on condition of ''follow the rules of the game'' is challenged by the fiction of cultural representation.

Long Abstract

En janvier 2010, les Musulmans de l'enclave espagnole de Melilla ont élu leur 'président'. Ce processus d'élections, effectué dans le cadre d'une fédération d'associations islamiques de l'enclave, a retenu l'attention de l'opinion publique pendant des nombreuses années. Il a été attendu et promu longtemps par les pouvoirs publics comme une nécessité afin de rencontrer des interlocuteurs légitimés avec lesquels définir des politiques de reconnaissance. Malgré cela, le nouveau 'président des Musulmans' de Melilla n'a jamais été reçu par les autorités locales, qui l'observent maintenant comme le président d'une association subordonnée aux intérêts de certains partis politiques étiquetés comme musulmans par l'opinion publique.

À partir d'une enquête ethnographique de longue durée à Melilla, cette communication voudrait apporter une réflexion sur les enjeux de l'application des politiques de reconnaissance dans des sociétés multiculturelles. La problématique de la représentation des collectifs qui configurent la diversité culturelle à Melilla sera donc abordée comme une fiction dans laquelle, aussi bien les reconnus que les re-connaisseurs, projettent une société sans conflit par le seul fait de s'attacher à des processus d'ordre démocratique. Mais peut un président des Musulmans être élu démocratiquement ? Face à l'impossibilité des autorités locales de reconnaître un représentant religieux dans un cadre d'action relevant d'un ordre laïque et politique, le 'président des Musulmans' arguait "L'Islam est la seul voie que vous nous avait laissée !". À partir de ce cas, nous essayerons de montrer les différentes voies de conceptualisation du multiculturalime qui opposent actuellement les 'faiseurs de politiques' et les Musulmans de Melilla.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.