Found in Multiculturalism

Acceptance or Challenge?

by Izabela Handzlik (Volume editor) Lukasz Sorokowski (Volume editor)
©2014 Edited Collection 262 Pages


This book aims to assemble a variety of perspectives that have shaped the development of multicultural studies over the last years, and which today attempt at comprising the main contending lines of approach to both teaching and research within this rapidly expanding area of inquiry. Conceived as a panorama of diverse multicultural manifestations, it seeks to respond to the needs of a readership sharing an undivided interest in the labyrinthine nature of multiculturalism. In doing so, it endeavours to make the convoluted debates underlying the foundations of the social sciences and humanities more accessible to the uninitiated and is aimed at both academics specialising in the area and readers eager to broaden their horizons.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • The language of the social world at a border crossing
  • Thank you for talking to me, Africa: Multiculturalism and black urban America
  • Muslim communities in the United States: A multicultural puzzle
  • Moroccan associations in the Netherlands: how organisation leaders deal with the stigmatisation of the Moroccan community
  • The Spanish expedition to Easter Island, 1770: Original documents and their rendition by Bolton Glanvill Corney
  • Is a rainbow society possible? Sociological challenges in the age of postmodern multiculturalism
  • Is multiculturalism bad for women, still? Persisting dilemmas in cultural and religious accommodation in Europe
  • On being Asian: East-Asian Americans and Canadians in selected North American multicultural graphic novels
  • African rhythm, Cuban soul: The musical heritage of slavery in Cuba
  • Definitional trends in the legal management of national and religious minorities (diversity)
  • Between nationhood and statehood, unionism and nationalism: Scotland’s identity politics in the devolution discourse since the 1950s
  • Controversies over Polish city marketing strategies
  • Notes on the contributors


This publication would not have been possible without the precious support of many people and institutions they represent. It is our pleasure to express our deepest gratitude to Professor Radosław Markowski, supervising editor of the Warsaw Studies in Politics and Society series, without whose approval, followed by invaluable assistance and guidance, the idea of bringing to life the collective effort of everyone involved in this project would have been impossible. Deepest gratitude is also due to our two reviewers – Professor Anna Śliz (University of Opole) and Professor Steven A. Tuch (The George Washington University), without whose expertise and assistance this project would not have been completed. We have particular debts to our proofreader Colin Phillips, senior lecturer at the Faculty of English Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and all our dearest friends and colleagues for not hesitating to ever share their thoughts and comments on the issues we have raised in this book. Special thanks are also conveyed to the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw (Szkoła Wyższa Psychologii Społecznej) for providing the financial means so crucial in realizing this project at all its levels (project number WKiF/2013/B/34). ← 7 | 8 →


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Amid the globalisation of economic life, followed by the myriad of powerful challenges posed to the traditional notions of statehood and nationhood, it is now routinely contended that multiculturalism is in resurgence. Nevertheless, much of the debate on the purported renaissance of the plurality of cultures occupying the various social and political systems around the world is bedevilled by confusion over what the term implies.

At first glance, the notion in question seems to be seemingly easy to define, since one can simply assume that “multiculturalism” denotes a plurality of cultures gathered in a particular social space. Yet, treating “multiculturalism” as a mere concentration of cultures in a certain social space does not capture the essence of the social reality which bears the sociological stigma of “multicultural”. This is so because “multiculturalism” entails not only the existence of cultures side by side, but also, and perhaps above all, the contribution of cultures to forming various types of interactions, both cooperative and confrontational in character. Moreover, widespread confusion over the definition of “multiculturalism” in the contemporary world results from, inter alia, deepening globalisation and metropolisation, which make multicultural reality more common and tangible. Still, its catholicity and proximity does not necessarily imply better comprehension of the term itself, which is frequently misinterpreted and thus applied interchangeably with the congeneric concepts of “interculturalism” and “transculturalism”. Although, as in the case of “multiculturalism”, both the above notions refer to the coexistence of different cultures in a particular social space, neither of them is synonymous with “multiculturalism”. The former dates back to the 1970s, when it was used to describe permanent and dynamic interactions between transmitters of distinct cultures. At present, it refers to the interpenetration of elements belonging to diverse cultures resulting from the global network of information flow. The latter, in turn, indicates a permanent intermingling of cultures which create the so-called “third culture”, hybrid in nature, from which one finds it impossible to distinguish its particular components.

Furthermore, the eponymous phrase “Found in Multiculturalism” constitutes a direct allusion to the “Lost in Translation” metaphor coined by Stanisław Barańczak. First of all, this is primarily because functioning in any multicultural reality frequently entails the lack of understanding of “the Other”, which has been ← 9 | 10 → aptly explored by the authors who have contributed to this book. Secondly, coming back to the term “multiculturalism” itself, it turns out that its quintessence may be easily overshadowed by the existence of two (or more) separate words in another language which may be automatically treated as different equivalents of the English word “multiculturalism” – whereas, in reality, they are not. Consequently, in terms of the Polish context, scholars dealing with various aspects of multiculturalism may be literally lost in between wielokulturowość and multikulturalizm, which seem to constitute two distinct translations of the English notion of multiculturalism, causing unnecessary misunderstandings and perplexity. Such (linguistic) confusion over this eponymic term is further enhanced by an analogous mystification as to why an apparently self-explanatory juxtaposition of different cultures in a given context turns out to be a notable success or an abject failure.

This collection of readings has been prepared with a view to assembling, in one volume, representative statements of a variety of theoretical approaches that have had an impact on the development of multicultural studies over the last couple of years, and which today attempt at comprising the main contending lines of approach to both teaching and research within this rapidly expanding area of inquiry. Notwithstanding the plurality of voices, reflected to a great extent by various aspects of multiculturalism presented in the volume, all of them seem to revolve around two major dimensions of the eponymous notion: ethnic and non-ethnic, using the division proposed by Janusz Mucha, or, as Stanley Fish defines it, “strong multiculturalism” and “boutique multiculturalism”. The former, ethnic or “strong multiculturalism”, focuses on the sphere of inter-ethnic relations among numerous ethnic groups that intend to openly manifest their identity and distinctiveness as well as participate fully in all forms of social life. The latter, non-ethnic or “boutique multiculturalism”, comprises a natural complement to ethnic or “strong multiculturalism” by concentrating on the superficial attachment to objects or elements of a different culture. Such multiculturalism comes down to a simple saturation of the social space with symbols denoting cultural diversity, such as, among others, popular ethnic restaurants or festivals.

Bearing in mind the dichotomous understanding of multiculturalism, most authors have presented its non-ethnic dimensions, the multitude of which has been additionally emphasized by an intentional presentation of particular texts in an alphabetical order marked by the surnames of their authors, not according to any artificially created thematic division. Conceived with the multifaceted needs of a variety of our target readers sharing an undivided interest in the labyrinthine nature of multiculturalism, we have endeavoured, indeed, to make ← 10 | 11 → the somewhat complicated and far too often abstract debates lying at the foundations of the arts and humanities more accessible to the uninitiated, thus striving to make them of value to both academics specialising in the area and readers eager to expand their knowledge and broaden their horizons.

Lying at the heart of this book is our firm conviction that if the theory on issues in multiculturalism, such as, among others, nationalism, citizenship and identity, along with their interrelations, is to be endowed with real meaning and relevance beyond mere intellectual curiosity, it must be both applicable to, and derived from, empirical analysis. This analysis, whether carried out on an intensive case study basis, or following reflections on more generalizable processes and trends, is necessary to determine how social and political experience and practice are intertwined with the ways in which different groups and individual actors perceive and conceive of their relations to space. Given the cumbersome nature of the intellectual tour de force posed by the idea of multiculturalism itself, we are fully aware of the fact that in order to bring clarity to this concept, a phenomenon that is clearly not new, yet has only recently gained incredible political salience, is a fine achievement. Drawing on conspicuous cases worldwide, we have endeavoured to establish a framework of identity politics that would encompass both temporal and spatial influences on the processes of identification, belonging, reproduction and group interaction. In so doing, we have set ourselves the task of not only constructing a new means of analysing a variety of individual-community relationships, but also the task of shedding new light on how society as a whole constructs itself vis-à-vis with the minorities it has to interact with.

This collection of readings draws from what is best in the already existing publications conceived to convey the potential of positive interaction among cultures and, perhaps more importantly, to put forward the idea that multiculturalism ought to be seen primarily as a state of mind. Over the years, this notion has been approached as a continuous movement towards reflection, self-knowledge, and awareness of our humanity, enhanced by the desire to better understand the differences between human beings. Recently, however, the term multiculturalism has achieved meanings never conceived of prior to the 1990s. This has been particularly true in the academic world. When the title of our book came up in numerous conversations with our friends and colleagues, the meaning we had given to multiculturalism was often lost in endless debates and lengthy intellectual propositions. Some saw back then, and continue to do so at present, multiculturalism as a challenge to the traditions of Western civilization; others perceive it as a call to the disintegration of national identity, or worse yet, as a ← 11 | 12 → first step to moral relativism. If human conduct is justified by culture, everything goes; right and wrong are no longer discernible. Oddly enough, multiculturalism has suddenly become the source of all human ills: from being the cause of inner-city problems to challenging fundamental truths.

Having said that, we are committed to the idea of endlessly moving towards multiculturalism – our terminus ad quem. In light of the numerous controversies surrounding the righteousness of a plurality of cultures, however, it is important to understand why it has been conjuring up so many reactions. It is our intention, therefore, to offer our readers an explanation and a possibility of taking the challenge of being faced with a contextual way of defining and analysing the phenomenon in question, hoping that the probable doubts and queries it will stir, a new set of debatable issues, will offer follow-up research on such a formidable concept.

Izabela Handzlik and Łukasz Sorokowski
← 12 | 13 →

Michał Dąbrowski

The language of the social world at a border crossing

Abstract: On the basis of four-year-long research, the author presents the major characteristics of the language of communication that has been formed at the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Kuźnica. The paper looks at five main features of the dialect that has been dubbed “border language”, which is regarded as an example of a communication bridge between two different groups who often act in opposition to each other. The mechanics of its creation show that a third culture can be created on the verge of two other cultures. The expressions such as social world, cultural differentiation and the border culture are used as its theoretical context. The empirical material gathered throughout the research is confronted with discussed theoretical concepts. On this basis, an attempt has been made to form conclusions concerning the creation of terms for the practical cooperation of culturally differentiated communities.

Keywords: social dialect, border culture, cultural differentiation, multiculturalism, social world


The goal of this paper is to show the characteristics of a specific language which functions at the Polish-Belarusian road border crossing in Kuźnica, in the Podlaskie district. The language has been observed during the research project “Border Culture – the social worlds of border crossing”, which I was conducting between 2009 and 2012 under the supervision of Wojciech Łukowski. The analysis of forms of communication as a way of exchanging information is an important element of research on the social collectives which are differentiated culturally. I believe that a highly disrupted process of communication between individuals originating from different groups may prevent desired intercultural contacts on a larger scale. According to Tamotsu Shibutani (1955: 9) an effective communication is a decisive attribute of a clearly distinctive social world. Justyna Straczuk (1999: 9) believes that language is a sphere of human life that cannot be omitted in the research on culture. ← 13 | 14 →


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (August)
schottische Unabhängigkeit Osterinsel musikalisches Erbe moslemische Gemeinde
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 262 pp., 1 coloured fig., 4 b/w fig., 10 tables

Biographical notes

Izabela Handzlik (Volume editor) Lukasz Sorokowski (Volume editor)

Izabela Handzlik lectures at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. Her main research interests revolve around multiculturalism and Muslim communities in both the United States and Europe. Łukasz Sorokowski lectures at Koźmiński University in Warsaw. His research efforts are focused on the post-devolution reality of the UK: primarily Scottish identity politics as part of Scotland’s growing independence aspirations in the twentieth century.


Title: Found in Multiculturalism
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264 pages