Everyday multiculturalism
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What is multiculturalism from below? What makes people live well with diversity in everyday life? How do ‘transversal enablers’ assist in situations of everyday multiculturalism? In what ways do......

What is multiculturalism from below? What makes people live well with diversity in everyday life? How do ‘transversal enablers’ assist in situations of everyday multiculturalism? In what ways do multicultural subjects react to those who deny them a space in contemporary ‘super diverse’ societies? In what ways do people live their multiculturalism ‘from below’?

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  • 1. EVERYDAY MULTICULTURALISM EVERYDAY LIFE, WEEK 11 DR ALANA LENTIN A.LENTIN@UWS.EDU.AU Thursday, 10 October 13
  • 2. Overview Thursday, 10 October 13
  • 3. Overview Why multiculturalism? Critiques of multiculturalism The harmonious multicultural nation? Everyday, ‘lived multiculture’ Problem multiculturalism They’re taking over Good and bad diversity Thursday, 10 October 13
  • 4. Pathways to multiculturalism Thursday, 10 October 13 1. Multicultural realities: At the turn of the 20th century, Australia was becoming a multicultural society. Although, the country was 98% white, the discovery of gold (the gold rush) was leading to immigration from around the world. Between 1850 and 1870, 50,000 Chinese had settled in NSW. Workers from the Pacific Islands were being brought in to work as indentured labourers, e.g. on sugar plantations. Before Federation in 1901, the possibility existed for Australia to become an immigration nation. 2. White Australia Policy: Real name: Immigration Restriction Act - one of the first pieces of legislation passed by new federal parliament in 1901 (one of the 1st pieces of immigration legislation in the world). Edmund Barton, the prime minister, argued in support of the Bill with the following statement: "The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman." The Bill put in place a similar policy to that in Sth Africa: But Australia could not be openly offensive to other members of the British Empire (e.g. India) or to the Japanese, so a dictation test was introduced to weed out the unwanted. The test was impossible to pass (sometimes other European languages than English were used). The White Australia Policy persisted throughout the Second World War, during which Prime Minister Curtin defended the policy saying, ‘"This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race." It only is challenged after the war when the realisation that Australia must ‘populate or perish’ takes hold. 3. The path to Multiculturalism is opened because of the realisation of the need to ‘populate or perish’ 1966: Migration Act - effectively dismantled White Australia Policy. 1973: Official dismantling of the policy. 1975: Introduction of Racial Discrimination Act (linked to MC) but racial discrimination towards Aboriginals is still rife at this time. Policy/attitude towards Indigenous people and migrants continues along two separate tracks. MC is considered to be ‘for migrants’ - Aboriginals, as original inhabitants of the land do not, therefore, consider themselves to be ‘multicultural subjects’
  • 5. Pathways to multiculturalism Multicultural realities White Australia Integration Thursday, 10 October 13 1. Multicultural realities: At the turn of the 20th century, Australia was becoming a multicultural society. Although, the country was 98% white, the discovery of gold (the gold rush) was leading to immigration from around the world. Between 1850 and 1870, 50,000 Chinese had settled in NSW. Workers from the Pacific Islands were being brought in to work as indentured labourers, e.g. on sugar plantations. Before Federation in 1901, the possibility existed for Australia to become an immigration nation. 2. White Australia Policy: Real name: Immigration Restriction Act - one of the first pieces of legislation passed by new federal parliament in 1901 (one of the 1st pieces of immigration legislation in the world). Edmund Barton, the prime minister, argued in support of the Bill with the following statement: "The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman." The Bill put in place a similar policy to that in Sth Africa: But Australia could not be openly offensive to other members of the British Empire (e.g. India) or to the Japanese, so a dictation test was introduced to weed out the unwanted. The test was impossible to pass (sometimes other European languages than English were used). The White Australia Policy persisted throughout the Second World War, during which Prime Minister Curtin defended the policy saying, ‘"This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race." It only is challenged after the war when the realisation that Australia must ‘populate or perish’ takes hold. 3. The path to Multiculturalism is opened because of the realisation of the need to ‘populate or perish’ 1966: Migration Act - effectively dismantled White Australia Policy. 1973: Official dismantling of the policy. 1975: Introduction of Racial Discrimination Act (linked to MC) but racial discrimination towards Aboriginals is still rife at this time. Policy/attitude towards Indigenous people and migrants continues along two separate tracks. MC is considered to be ‘for migrants’ - Aboriginals, as original inhabitants of the land do not, therefore, consider themselves to be ‘multicultural subjects’
  • 6. Pathways to multiculturalism Multicultural realities White Australia Integration Thursday, 10 October 13 1. Multicultural realities: At the turn of the 20th century, Australia was becoming a multicultural society. Although, the country was 98% white, the discovery of gold (the gold rush) was leading to immigration from around the world. Between 1850 and 1870, 50,000 Chinese had settled in NSW. Workers from the Pacific Islands were being brought in to work as indentured labourers, e.g. on sugar plantations. Before Federation in 1901, the possibility existed for Australia to become an immigration nation. 2. White Australia Policy: Real name: Immigration Restriction Act - one of the first pieces of legislation passed by new federal parliament in 1901 (one of the 1st pieces of immigration legislation in the world). Edmund Barton, the prime minister, argued in support of the Bill with the following statement: "The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman." The Bill put in place a similar policy to that in Sth Africa: But Australia could not be openly offensive to other members of the British Empire (e.g. India) or to the Japanese, so a dictation test was introduced to weed out the unwanted. The test was impossible to pass (sometimes other European languages than English were used). The White Australia Policy persisted throughout the Second World War, during which Prime Minister Curtin defended the policy saying, ‘"This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race." It only is challenged after the war when the realisation that Australia must ‘populate or perish’ takes hold. 3. The path to Multiculturalism is opened because of the realisation of the need to ‘populate or perish’ 1966: Migration Act - effectively dismantled White Australia Policy. 1973: Official dismantling of the policy. 1975: Introduction of Racial Discrimination Act (linked to MC) but racial discrimination towards Aboriginals is still rife at this time. Policy/attitude towards Indigenous people and migrants continues along two separate tracks. MC is considered to be ‘for migrants’ - Aboriginals, as original inhabitants of the land do not, therefore, consider themselves to be ‘multicultural subjects’
  • 7. WHY MULTICULTURALISM? ‘Multiculturalism emerged from the realisation... that the melting pot doesn’t melt and that ethnic and racial divisions get reproduced from generation to generation.’ (Anthias and Yuval-Davis, 1992: 158) Thursday, 10 October 13 Early policies for the inclusion of migrants in society emphasised assimilation and integration. Migrants were encouraged to forget their cultural background, traditions, customs, etc. and become full members of the nation. US-American idea of the ‘melting pot’ Anthias and Yuval-Davis: MC first emerges in the late 1960s (in Canada) based on the realisation that (1) it is unrealistic to expect people to forget everything about their past and (2) even if they wanted to, discrimination from the members of the majority of society (e.g. whites in Australia) means that it is very difficult. Immigrants are never considered Australian enough, and this persists over generations (connected to racism next week). Multiculturalism originated as a strategy for resisting disadvantage and create equality. Australia: Multiculturalism was originally developed in Canada and was exported to Australia in response to the increasing demands of well-organised groups of people from migrant backgrounds, Italians and Greeks in particular, to be equally recognised in the Anglo dominated landscape of Australia. Multiculturalism, as opposed to the melting pot metaphor of assimilation, may be compared to a salad bowl where every ingredient is distinct. Cultural pluralism was seen as integral to social equality. In 1973, Immigration minister Al Grassby said ‘My concept of a society able to sustain growth and change without disintegration is a society based on equality for all’. The state policy of multiculturalism involves working to support the preservation of minority cultures by giving funding to the initiatives of community groups, or through promoting knowledge of non-dominant cultures in education, broadcasting, and so on. Australian MC policy: The 2011 Multicultural Policy of Australia declares ‘The Australian Government is unwavering in its commitment to a multicultural Australia. Australia’s multicultural composition is at the heart of our national identity and is intrinsic to our history and character.’ In that sense it is quite unique in comparison to other countries. The emphasis of the policy is on ‘shared values’, seen as Australian values - most importantly ‘fairness’ - and respect for cultural difference, and the permission to practice diversity without discrimination.
  • 8. Critiques of Multiculturalism Thursday, 10 October 13 Multicultural policy has been critiqued by many people since its introduction in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia from the 1970s on. One of the most important critiques is that multiculturalism is based on a reified or essentialist view of culture. In other words... Each cultural group is seen as being internally homogeneous. It does not allow for variation within these groups or the fact that there are always people with different interests, needs and desires within any group that is identified as a cultural group. So, just because someone is Lebanese does not mean that they will necessarily share much in common with someone else of the same origin. Multiculturalism does not allow for this variation. At the same time, the dominant cultural group is considered neutral. So, Anglos in Australia are not seen as just another cultural group among others. Rather their culture is the standard or neutral norm, and everyone else fits in around it. Arguably, then multicultural policy does little to encourage the transformation of majority culture. Rather the dominant culture can remain untouched by multiculturalism in any deep sense, except perhaps through the availability of more varieties of food, styles and so on. Multiculturalism is, for those in the dominant cultural group, a mere issue of lifestyle whereas, for minorities, it is the frame through which they are viewed and expected to conform to this culturalist vision of their lives. By focusing on culture, multiculturalism might ignore the other aspects that are important for individuals, especially those who have traditionally been disadvantaged such as migrants, e.g. jobs, housing, education, health, and so on. As Poynting and Mason show, the emphasis on this cultural view of minority groups often led to these groups being stereotyped in ways that were counterproductive to what multiculturalism wanted to achieve. The complexity of culture was reduced to exotic food and national dress, music and dance. The focus on minority ‘culture’ in the public sphere could also cause resentment among those of the dominant culture who felt left out of multicultural festivities because they did not have a particular culture to perform. Nevertheless, according to Poynting and Mason, multicultural policies were successful in easing intercommunal tensions in Australia throughout the 1970s and 1980s. There were no real ghettoes or ‘race riots’ of the type seen in the US, Britain, or France for example.
  • 9. Critiques of Multiculturalism ‘Multiculturalism constructs society as composed of a hegemonic homogeneous majority and small unmeltable minorities’ Anthias & Yuval-Davis, 1992 Thursday, 10 October 13 Multicultural policy has been critiqued by many people since its introduction in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia from the 1970s on. One of the most important critiques is that multiculturalism is based on a reified or essentialist view of culture. In other words... Each cultural group is seen as being internally homogeneous. It does not allow for variation within these groups or the fact that there are always people with different interests, needs and desires within any group that is identified as a cultural group. So, just because someone is Lebanese does not mean that they will necessarily share much in common with someone else of the same origin. Multiculturalism does not allow for this variation. At the same time, the dominant cultural group is considered neutral. So, Anglos in Australia are not seen as just another cultural group among others. Rather their culture is the standard or neutral norm, and everyone else fits in around it. Arguably, then multicultural policy does little to encourage the transformation of majority culture. Rather the dominant culture can remain untouched by multiculturalism in any deep sense, except perhaps through the availability of more varieties of food, styles and so on. Multiculturalism is, for those in the dominant cultural group, a mere issue of lifestyle whereas, for minorities, it is the frame through which they are viewed and expected to conform to this culturalist vision of their lives. By focusing on culture, multiculturalism might ignore the other aspects that are important for individuals, especially those who have traditionally been disadvantaged such as migrants, e.g. jobs, housing, education, health, and so on. As Poynting and Mason show, the emphasis on this cultural view of minority groups often led to these groups being stereotyped in ways that were counterproductive to what multiculturalism wanted to achieve. The complexity of culture was reduced to exotic food and national dress, music and dance. The focus on minority ‘culture’ in the public sphere could also cause resentment among those of the dominant culture who felt left out of multicultural festivities because they did not have a particular culture to perform. Nevertheless, according to Poynting and Mason, multicultural policies were successful in easing intercommunal tensions in Australia throughout the 1970s and 1980s. There were no real ghettoes or ‘race riots’ of the type seen in the US, Britain, or France for example.
  • 10. What is multiculturalism, really? Thursday, 10 October 13 Goldberg notes that it is important to distinguish between two types of multiculturalism. Multicultural policies can be described as prescriptive - they prescribe a solution to a societal problem. But often when we think about what multiculturalism means we are being descriptive. In other words, we are merely describing our lived reality - what we see on the streets when we walk around, the kind of interaction we have with people, the fact that people come from different backgrounds and all live together. This is descriptive multiculturalism. Interestingly, when multiculturalism is criticised (e.g. Scott Morrison during a speech, Australia Day, 2013), the problem is never really the prescriptive policies which remain very vague, normative, but the everyday reality of living together in a ‘super-diverse’ society. But, before we look at ‘everyday multiculturalism’, let us look at the critique of official state multiculturalism (prescriptive mc).
  • 11. What is multiculturalism, really? PRESCRIPTIVE? Thursday, 10 October 13 Goldberg notes that it is important to distinguish between two types of multiculturalism. Multicultural policies can be described as prescriptive - they prescribe a solution to a societal problem. But often when we think about what multiculturalism means we are being descriptive. In other words, we are merely describing our lived reality - what we see on the streets when we walk around, the kind of interaction we have with people, the fact that people come from different backgrounds and all live together. This is descriptive multiculturalism. Interestingly, when multiculturalism is criticised (e.g. Scott Morrison during a speech, Australia Day, 2013), the problem is never really the prescriptive policies which remain very vague, normative, but the everyday reality of living together in a ‘super-diverse’ society. But, before we look at ‘everyday multiculturalism’, let us look at the critique of official state multiculturalism (prescriptive mc).
  • 12. What is multiculturalism, really? PRESCRIPTIVE? DESCRIPTIVE? Thursday, 10 October 13 Goldberg notes that it is important to distinguish between two types of multiculturalism. Multicultural policies can be described as prescriptive - they prescribe a solution to a societal problem. But often when we think about what multiculturalism means we are being descriptive. In other words, we are merely describing our lived reality - what we see on the streets when we walk around, the kind of interaction we have with people, the fact that people come from different backgrounds and all live together. This is descriptive multiculturalism. Interestingly, when multiculturalism is criticised (e.g. Scott Morrison during a speech, Australia Day, 2013), the problem is never really the prescriptive policies which remain very vague, normative, but the everyday reality of living together in a ‘super-diverse’ society. But, before we look at ‘everyday multiculturalism’, let us look at the critique of official state multiculturalism (prescriptive mc).
  • 13. Thursday, 10 October 13 21 March: Harmony Day (United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) Official state MC in Australia/Harmony Day tells a story about the Australian nation which does not always seem borne out in reality. The national ‘we’ is constructed as diverse - myriad statements about Australia as one of the most diverse societies in the world - Australian MC is officially celebrated, not only as a desire (e.g. need to enact policy to bring it about) but as already a reality. In fact, Stratton (1998) might be more correct when he talks about Australia as having a white core and an ethnically diverse periphery. It is almost impossible for people from non-white backgrounds to penetrate high levels of government, the media, academia, the law, business, etc. [reveal Hage quote] Hage contrasts official MC discourse with what he calls the ‘multicultural real’: Australia IS amazingly diverse, but this largely remains hidden from view where it counts (power) and remains very superficial. As we saw, multiculturalism tends to see ethnic groups as internally diverse. Initiatives such as Harmony Day celebrate diversity at a superficial level - food, traditional dress, etc. But if the purpose of multicultural policy is to bring about greater social equality, we may ask whether focusing on the more palatable aspects of cultural diversity is sufficient. In essence, official multiculturalism (as Hage and Stratton have said) leaves the majority Australia, Anglo-Celtic identity unchanged while tolerating those on the ethnic fringes.
  • 14. ‘Our Australian Story is diverse. We come from many countries around the world. We each make up the pages of the bigger Australia story we share today. From the Dreamtime to the Eureka to the Snowy River, from the outback to the city, in wartime and in peace, our stories may be heartwrenching but also inspirational.’ http://www.harmony.gov.au/about/ Thursday, 10 October 13 21 March: Harmony Day (United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) Official state MC in Australia/Harmony Day tells a story about the Australian nation which does not always seem borne out in reality. The national ‘we’ is constructed as diverse - myriad statements about Australia as one of the most diverse societies in the world - Australian MC is officially celebrated, not only as a desire (e.g. need to enact policy to bring it about) but as already a reality. In fact, Stratton (1998) might be more correct when he talks about Australia as having a white core and an ethnically diverse periphery. It is almost impossible for people from non-white backgrounds to penetrate high levels of government, the media, academia, the law, business, etc. [reveal Hage quote] Hage contrasts official MC discourse with what he calls the ‘multicultural real’: Australia IS amazingly diverse, but this largely remains hidden from view where it counts (power) and remains very superficial. As we saw, multiculturalism tends to see ethnic groups as internally diverse. Initiatives such as Harmony Day celebrate diversity at a superficial level - food, traditional dress, etc. But if the purpose of multicultural policy is to bring about greater social equality, we may ask whether focusing on the more palatable aspects of cultural diversity is sufficient. In essence, official multiculturalism (as Hage and Stratton have said) leaves the majority Australia, Anglo-Celtic identity unchanged while tolerating those on the ethnic fringes.
  • 15. ‘Our Australian Story is diverse. We come from many countries around the world. We each make up the pages of the bigger Australia story we share today. From the Dreamtime to the Eureka to the Snowy River, from the outback to the city, in wartime and in peace, our stories may be heartwrenching but also inspirational.’ http://www.harmony.gov.au/about/ ‘For if we are diversity, there would be nothing to 'appreciate' and 'value' other than ourselves. This is the difficult imaginary domain of the multicultural Real’ Ghassan Hage (1998: 140) Thursday, 10 October 13 21 March: Harmony Day (United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) Official state MC in Australia/Harmony Day tells a story about the Australian nation which does not always seem borne out in reality. The national ‘we’ is constructed as diverse - myriad statements about Australia as one of the most diverse societies in the world - Australian MC is officially celebrated, not only as a desire (e.g. need to enact policy to bring it about) but as already a reality. In fact, Stratton (1998) might be more correct when he talks about Australia as having a white core and an ethnically diverse periphery. It is almost impossible for people from non-white backgrounds to penetrate high levels of government, the media, academia, the law, business, etc. [reveal Hage quote] Hage contrasts official MC discourse with what he calls the ‘multicultural real’: Australia IS amazingly diverse, but this largely remains hidden from view where it counts (power) and remains very superficial. As we saw, multiculturalism tends to see ethnic groups as internally diverse. Initiatives such as Harmony Day celebrate diversity at a superficial level - food, traditional dress, etc. But if the purpose of multicultural policy is to bring about greater social equality, we may ask whether focusing on the more palatable aspects of cultural diversity is sufficient. In essence, official multiculturalism (as Hage and Stratton have said) leaves the majority Australia, Anglo-Celtic identity unchanged while tolerating those on the ethnic fringes.
  • 16. Everyday, lived multiculture Thursday, 10 October 13 As mentioned, when multiculturalism is critiqued, the problem is less with official state multiculturalism - e.g. Harmony Day - and more with the multicultural reality that Ghassan Hage speaks about. Most of us live with multiculturalism every day. Amanda Wise looks at multicultural living at the micro level of the everyday - ‘multiculturalism from below’ - as a way of giving meaning and enriching the superficial descriptions of diversity that can be found in the official policies and Harmony Day statements. Understanding this will help us understand better why ordinary Australians from diverse backgrounds ‘rub along’ together or not. Wise uses the idea of the ‘contact zone’ to theorize what she calls ‘quotidian transversality’ - how do individuals in ethnically diverse suburbs and neighbourhoods interact in a way that ensures sociality (everyone getting along)? What disrupts this - i.e. what external factors (e.g. racism, discrimination, etc.) disturb living together in ethnically diverse locations? Wise: a number of factors are important for living together in any society: gift exchange and reciprocity, kinship and social networks, ways of talking, and place orientations, etc. But what complexifies these aspects of social life (living together) in an ethnically diverse area? Wise: the idea of transversality emphasises interchange - i.e. not just exchange, which is direct, but actually trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, so that we can shift our perspective.
  • 17. ‘[N]eighbourly cross-cultural encounters not necessarily close enough to describe as ‘friendship’ do in fact, through a relation of care, produce capacities for the recognition or acknowledgment of otherness in a situational specificity.’ Amanda Wise (2009: 35) Everyday, lived multiculture Thursday, 10 October 13 As mentioned, when multiculturalism is critiqued, the problem is less with official state multiculturalism - e.g. Harmony Day - and more with the multicultural reality that Ghassan Hage speaks about. Most of us live with multiculturalism every day. Amanda Wise looks at multicultural living at the micro level of the everyday - ‘multiculturalism from below’ - as a way of giving meaning and enriching the superficial descriptions of diversity that can be found in the official policies and Harmony Day statements. Understanding this will help us understand better why ordinary Australians from diverse backgrounds ‘rub along’ together or not. Wise uses the idea of the ‘contact zone’ to theorize what she calls ‘quotidian transversality’ - how do individuals in ethnically diverse suburbs and neighbourhoods interact in a way that ensures sociality (everyone getting along)? What disrupts this - i.e. what external factors (e.g. racism, discrimination, etc.) disturb living together in ethnically diverse locations? Wise: a number of factors are important for living together in any society: gift exchange and reciprocity, kinship and social networks, ways of talking, and place orientations, etc. But what complexifies these aspects of social life (living together) in an ethnically diverse area? Wise: the idea of transversality emphasises interchange - i.e. not just exchange, which is direct, but actually trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, so that we can shift our perspective.
  • 18. COSMO-MULTICULTURALISM ‘YOU COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD’ Thursday, 10 October 13 Ghassan Hage is less optimistic about the transformative capacities of daily multiculturalism than Wise. He says that what he calls ‘cosmo-multiculturalism’ is less about migrants building a home in Australia, where they feel that they truly belong, and more about an experience of white, middle-class cosmopolitan consumption. MC has been good for the Australian diet. We experience MC in culturally diverse areas in the same way we experience tourism while on holiday. It remains external. It is something for our pleasure, but which will not alter us in any fundamental way. Focusing on the experience of eating in an ‘ethnic’ restaurant, Hage says they are constructed with the desires of Anglo Australians in mind rather than being services for migrants (e.g. places where people can eat their own food). Hage calls this ‘multiculturalism without migrants’ because the Anglo consumer is seen as active while the migrant provider of the food is passive - her needs and wants are absent from the equation.
  • 19. COSMO-MULTICULTURALISM ‘YOU COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD’ Thursday, 10 October 13 Ghassan Hage is less optimistic about the transformative capacities of daily multiculturalism than Wise. He says that what he calls ‘cosmo-multiculturalism’ is less about migrants building a home in Australia, where they feel that they truly belong, and more about an experience of white, middle-class cosmopolitan consumption. MC has been good for the Australian diet. We experience MC in culturally diverse areas in the same way we experience tourism while on holiday. It remains external. It is something for our pleasure, but which will not alter us in any fundamental way. Focusing on the experience of eating in an ‘ethnic’ restaurant, Hage says they are constructed with the desires of Anglo Australians in mind rather than being services for migrants (e.g. places where people can eat their own food). Hage calls this ‘multiculturalism without migrants’ because the Anglo consumer is seen as active while the migrant provider of the food is passive - her needs and wants are absent from the equation.
  • 20. Problem multiculturalism Thursday, 10 October 13 Immigration Minister (used to also cover MC but there is no longer a minister for MC under the new coalition government), Scott Morrison’s Australia Day speech (2013) gave his vision of a post-multicultural Australia which, as he put it, would ‘“restore some balance by ensuring that we are more focused on what we have in common rather than how different we all are”. This echoes the consensus view of mainstream politicians and commentators in Europe, that MC has been a failure. It hasn’t led to bringing people closer together, but to creating less social cohesion/unity in society. However, Morrison’s view and those of other anti-multiculturalists is not that there is something within the idea of MC itself that is at fault (i.e. the critique of mc as essentialising minorities or failing to question the dominance of the majority). Rather the problem is with minorities themselves. MC is thought of as a gift given to ethnic minorities by the white elite. It was supposed to be a sweetener that would ensure the containment of inter-ethnic relations - keep everyone happy. But, as we know, tensions still exist because we haven’t achieved equality between members of different ethnic groups in Australia (or anywhere else). The blame is put onto minorities for choosing not to belong. Morrison: ‘self-imposed cultural withdrawal” and disaffection with multiculturalism in “specific areas of high ethnic concentration”. Morrison advocates a return to ‘the supremacy of Australian values’. In other words, less care should be given to recognise cultural diversity, and more on Anglo Australian history and cultural norms.
  • 21. Problem multiculturalism ‘We must also send a strong message that cultural tolerance is not a license for cultural practices that are offensive to the cultural values, and laws, of Australia and that our respect for diversity does not provide license for closed communities.’ Scott Morrison, January 25 2013 Thursday, 10 October 13 Immigration Minister (used to also cover MC but there is no longer a minister for MC under the new coalition government), Scott Morrison’s Australia Day speech (2013) gave his vision of a post-multicultural Australia which, as he put it, would ‘“restore some balance by ensuring that we are more focused on what we have in common rather than how different we all are”. This echoes the consensus view of mainstream politicians and commentators in Europe, that MC has been a failure. It hasn’t led to bringing people closer together, but to creating less social cohesion/unity in society. However, Morrison’s view and those of other anti-multiculturalists is not that there is something within the idea of MC itself that is at fault (i.e. the critique of mc as essentialising minorities or failing to question the dominance of the majority). Rather the problem is with minorities themselves. MC is thought of as a gift given to ethnic minorities by the white elite. It was supposed to be a sweetener that would ensure the containment of inter-ethnic relations - keep everyone happy. But, as we know, tensions still exist because we haven’t achieved equality between members of different ethnic groups in Australia (or anywhere else). The blame is put onto minorities for choosing not to belong. Morrison: ‘self-imposed cultural withdrawal” and disaffection with multiculturalism in “specific areas of high ethnic concentration”. Morrison advocates a return to ‘the supremacy of Australian values’. In other words, less care should be given to recognise cultural diversity, and more on Anglo Australian history and cultural norms.
  • 22. They’re taking over Thursday, 10 October 13 One of the major fears of those who oppose multiculturalism, is that being too open towards cultural diversity will lead to our cities becoming segregated into ghettos. In Australia it has been pointed out that, while we may have suburbs where large numbers of members of particular ethnic groups live (e.g. Lakemba or Cabramatta), we cannot speak of ghettos. A ghetto - it is important to recognise - is a place where certain groups are forced to live (e.g. under Nazism). However, the fear of what is called ‘self-segregation’ - minorities choosing not to live among the majority - underpins the idea that mc has been bad for the unity of the country as a whole. Critics of this idea point out that it is usually when ethnic minority groups move into a neighbourhood that whites leave - ‘white flight’ - wealthy white people tend to be more segregated than poor non-white people/immigrants who have less of a choice about where they can live (often motivated by where is affordable). In the UK, since 2005, there has been a lot of moral panic about the idea that society is ‘sleepwalking to segregation’. In response, two statisticians - Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson - wrote a book called ‘Sleepwalking to segregation? Challenging myths about race and migration.’ They use statistics to overturn some of the common myths about MC and its impact on society. One of the most pressing fears is that certain cities will become minority white. In this short talk, Nissa Finney explains that in fact, the cities with the highest numbers of ethnic minority
  • 23. They’re taking over Thursday, 10 October 13 One of the major fears of those who oppose multiculturalism, is that being too open towards cultural diversity will lead to our cities becoming segregated into ghettos. In Australia it has been pointed out that, while we may have suburbs where large numbers of members of particular ethnic groups live (e.g. Lakemba or Cabramatta), we cannot speak of ghettos. A ghetto - it is important to recognise - is a place where certain groups are forced to live (e.g. under Nazism). However, the fear of what is called ‘self-segregation’ - minorities choosing not to live among the majority - underpins the idea that mc has been bad for the unity of the country as a whole. Critics of this idea point out that it is usually when ethnic minority groups move into a neighbourhood that whites leave - ‘white flight’ - wealthy white people tend to be more segregated than poor non-white people/immigrants who have less of a choice about where they can live (often motivated by where is affordable). In the UK, since 2005, there has been a lot of moral panic about the idea that society is ‘sleepwalking to segregation’. In response, two statisticians - Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson - wrote a book called ‘Sleepwalking to segregation? Challenging myths about race and migration.’ They use statistics to overturn some of the common myths about MC and its impact on society. One of the most pressing fears is that certain cities will become minority white. In this short talk, Nissa Finney explains that in fact, the cities with the highest numbers of ethnic minority
  • 24. Conclusion: Good vs. bad diversity Thursday, 10 October 13 As we argued in The Crises of Multiculturalism, the objection to multiculturalism might be another way of expressing racism. It is not culture that we have a problem with but too much culture of the wrong kind. Diversity is seen as something that everyone can share in. Everyone wants to be seen as diverse in the sense of being unique, standing out from the crowd. Multicultural policies catering uniquely for minority ethnic groups are increasingly being replaced by a more mainstream focus on difference in general. But diversity is not all good. There is always a tipping point - the point at which diversity becomes excessive and we tip over from good diversity into bad diversity. While good diversity adds value to society without threatening to replace the status quo, bad diversity is portrayed as a threat to so-called ‘social cohesion’. Much of the moral panic about bad diversity concentrates on Muslims in the post 9/11 era. Islam and Muslims are seen as incompatible with western ways of life. The fear that has always accompanied MC is that non-white, non Christians - Muslims in particular - will have more allegiance to their religion or country of origin that to the country to which they have migrated. However we might argue in response that, if MC was established to ensure greater equality between groups from different backgrounds, then the fact that tensions exist in contemporary MC societies such as Australia may have less to do with cultural difference (as Nissa Finney and Amanda Wise both show, the more diverse the area the greater integration there is) and more with social, economic and political inequality.
  • 25. Conclusion: Good vs. bad diversity Thursday, 10 October 13 As we argued in The Crises of Multiculturalism, the objection to multiculturalism might be another way of expressing racism. It is not culture that we have a problem with but too much culture of the wrong kind. Diversity is seen as something that everyone can share in. Everyone wants to be seen as diverse in the sense of being unique, standing out from the crowd. Multicultural policies catering uniquely for minority ethnic groups are increasingly being replaced by a more mainstream focus on difference in general. But diversity is not all good. There is always a tipping point - the point at which diversity becomes excessive and we tip over from good diversity into bad diversity. While good diversity adds value to society without threatening to replace the status quo, bad diversity is portrayed as a threat to so-called ‘social cohesion’. Much of the moral panic about bad diversity concentrates on Muslims in the post 9/11 era. Islam and Muslims are seen as incompatible with western ways of life. The fear that has always accompanied MC is that non-white, non Christians - Muslims in particular - will have more allegiance to their religion or country of origin that to the country to which they have migrated. However we might argue in response that, if MC was established to ensure greater equality between groups from different backgrounds, then the fact that tensions exist in contemporary MC societies such as Australia may have less to do with cultural difference (as Nissa Finney and Amanda Wise both show, the more diverse the area the greater integration there is) and more with social, economic and political inequality.