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The Democratic Contradictions of Multiculturalism

ISBN-13: 978-0914386469
ISBN-10: 0914386468
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Editorial Reviews


"Eriksen and Stjernfelt have written a splendid and important book, honest and humane, but never sentimental;  in elevating the majority/minority debate to a higher level of reflection than usual, it points towards a society where it is a common future and not mythical pasts which provides the basis for solidarity and belonging."

--Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Anthropology, University of Oslo

"The Democratic Contradictions of Multiculturalism is a very important book in this day and age. It provides a thorough, systematic survey and analysis of contemporary versions and trends within multiculturalism, discloses its origins, and looks at its place in current politics, philosophy, and religion. A book not to be missed by anybody interested in the state of the world. That means, not to be missed by anybody."

--Vincent F. Hendricks, Professor of Formal Philosophy, University of Copenhagen and Columbia University

"In its 'soft' meaning multiculturalism is, according to these authors, quite compatible with the idea of democracy and liberal-democratic political culture. It concerns the freedom of an individual to choose culture, religion, worldview and identity that suits him/her, as long as that person does not represent an obstacle to freedom of others who also wish to affirm, or determine, themselves within their own individual rights, values, proclivities and norms. However, problems arise in the context of a 'hard' interpretation of multiculturalism seen as a system that advocates inviolability, and even sovereignty, of collective cultural rights. In other words, as Eriksen and Stjernfelt argue, this is a version of multiculturalism based on the holiness and immunity of different cultures as their collective rights."

--Milan Vukomanovic, "Hostages of Culturalism"

"What would a society be like in which the ideals of 'hard multiculturalism' are made real--a society in which communities may enforce their own mores and traditions on their members, may even mobilize their own police force and legal system? In this brilliant book, Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt, well known for their studies of Bosnia and Serbia, explore from both an empirical and a theoretical point of view what happens when culture becomes a political ideology." --Barry Smith, Julian Park Professor of Philosophy, University at Buffalo

About the Author

Jens-Martin Eriksen is a Danish writer based in Geneva who has won several literary awards including the lifelong Grant of Honor from the Danish Endowment for the Arts.

Frederik Stjernfelt is a professor in cognitive semiotics and cultural studies at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He is a member of the Danish Academy of Letters as well as the Royal Danish Academy of the Sciences.

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The Democratic Contradictions of Multiculturalism
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