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Found in Multiculturalism

Acceptance or Challenge?


Izabela Handzlik and Lukasz Sorokowski

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.
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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,...

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