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Multiculturalism without Culture
Anne Phillips

Paperback | 2009 | $28.95 | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780691141152
216 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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Public opinion in recent years has soured on multiculturalism, due in large part to fears of radical Islam. In Multiculturalism without Culture, Anne Phillips contends that critics misrepresent culture as the explanation of everything individuals from minority and non-Western groups do. She puts forward a defense of multiculturalism that dispenses with notions of culture, instead placing individuals themselves at its core.

Multiculturalism has been blamed for encouraging the oppression of women--forced marriages, female genital cutting, school girls wearing the hijab. Many critics opportunistically deploy gender equality to justify the retreat from multiculturalism, hijacking the equality agenda to perpetuate cultural stereotypes. Phillips informs her argument with the feminist insistence on recognizing women as agents, and defends her position using an unusually broad range of literature, including political theory, philosophy, feminist theory, law, and anthropology. She argues that critics and proponents alike exaggerate the unity, distinctness, and intractability of cultures, thereby encouraging a perception of men and women as dupes constrained by cultural dictates.

Opponents of multiculturalism may think the argument against accommodating cultural difference is over and won, but they are wrong. Phillips believes multiculturalism still has an important role to play in achieving greater social equality. In this book, she offers a new way of addressing dilemmas of justice and equality in multiethnic, multicultural societies, intervening at this critical moment when so many Western countries are poised to abandon multiculturalism.


"In this illuminating and intelligently written book, Anne Phillips stresses the need to revise holistic and determinist notions of 'culture' that have played a role in perpetuating racial and gender stereotypes within multiethnic and multicultural societies....Drawing from an impressive breadth of literature, ranging from feminism, law, anthropology to philosophy and political theory, Phillips provides numerous case studies to highlight how women in particular, are disadvantaged by multicultural policies and cultural labeling....This is a superb and deeply relevant contribution to current debates and various fields of study."--Payal Patel, Feminist Review

"This important text raises two main issues. First, it asks advocates of multiculturalism to reject the reified concept of culture on which their arguments often rely, and to embrace instead 'multiculturalism without culture'...Second, the book demands recognition that everyone is a member of is frequently mistakenly assumed that only members of minority cultures are molded by their cultures."--P.T. Lenard, Choice

"Phillips' book is . . . a worthwhile read for scholars, students and policy makers alike: thanks to its lucid style, the thorough review of existing theories and approaches and especially due to the numerous examples, it provides an accessible and thought-provoking lecture."--Claudia Franziska Bruhwiler, Political Studies Review

"Phillips' work is invaluable to anyone wishing to engage with issues posed by cultural diversity yet frustrated with existing theoretical and discursive frameworks for doing so. Her careful analysis and use of varied examples provides much scope for thought and development and leaves one with the hope that there is a future for multiculturalism."--Sonya Fernandez, Feminist Legal Studies

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
CHAPTER ONE: Multiculturalism without Culture 11
CHAPTER TWO: Between Culture and Cosmos 42
CHAPTER THREE: What's Wrong with Cultural Defence? 73
CHAPTER FOUR: Autonomy, Coercion, and Constraint 100
CHAPTER FIVE: Exit and Voice 133
CHAPTER SIX: Multiculturalism without Groups? 158
Bibliography 181
Index 191

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