Analysis Of The Relevance And Impact Of A Multicultural Approach

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Globally, the discourse about Multiculturalism has surfaced and can no longer be ignored in our Arab world. Nations worldwide are trying to come to terms with this growing diversity, trying to find workable solutions that would help gain a sense of control over their borders, economic stability and the overall characteristics of their societies. The countless political problems accompanied by the growing number of immigrants and national minority demands are now a central theme in both abstract political philosophical field as well as real world politics.

Thus, it is time to introduce first, and then better understand the relevance and impact that such a Multicultural approach would have on the overall future well being of our own society, and how this can be incorporated within our own narratives, experiences, and developmental level. Therefore, for a constructive debate over the relevance and workings of Multiculturalism as a state policy, an interaction between a North-African country, Morocco as example, and global discourses that are mainly represented by the Western democratic visions in Will Kymlicka’s liberal conceptualization of minority rights, will be combined in the final chapter of this thesis. For Multiculturalism, an authentic multicultural community would continuously work to promote the recognition of ethnic and national minorities, accommodate cultural and religious differences, and enhance their political representation by any means possible. Multiculturalism as a political philosophy and a state policy aims to construct an equal citizenship status to all society members regardless of their different cultural affiliations.

Today’s global reality has become marked by an incessant movement of people around the world carrying various implications to the host society, from altering its long established structures, to minimizing the role of its traditional citizenship conceptualization. Citizenship as a deeply formulated and internalized conception has been diffused throughout history resting on solid beliefs in nationhood, creating national institutions that would unite citizens with common citizenship identity within a unified and homogenous community. With the rise of diversity, however, the exclusive role of citizenship is now being challenged by an ‘identity of difference’ framework. Within this framework, Kymlicka provides a new liberal conceptualization for the management of cultural diversity within nation-states, calling for recognition and promotion of ethnic and national minorities’ cultural rights, while still preserving a sense of common nationhood under one umbrella of citizenship. In line with Kymlicka, my thesis argues that group-differentiated citizenship rights are consistent with traditional conceptions of citizenship and liberalism.

Nonetheless, Multiculturalism as a political philosophy and a state policy is not entirely familiar to North-African states or Arab communities in general, and if it is introduced it would certainly be entirely misunderstood. Arab’s research on Multiculturalism is very limited. Recently, however, discourses on cultural recognition have come to the forefront with national and ethnic debates. Usually, such terms as minority rights are principally brought up by groups occupying minority positions in society only. In the Moroccan context, we find Berbers as an ethnic community and Sahraouian nationals. Multiculturalism, as a way of governance, is inclusive compared to the old exclusive mechanisms of citizens/non-citizen differentiation, but has its own conditions for an effective application, and since North -African communities or Arab nations, in general, are not entirely liberal, it becomes difficult then to apply or even conceive the success of such a model in these types of communities.

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The success of this model have been well documented in Western nations, but what all of those countries have in common is their strong commitment to their liberal principle, their specific historical make-up, developmental level, as well as a restricted intervention from international forces and the freedom to manage their own affairs. Kymlicka does not shy away from such a fact, that such a specific model of multiculturalism may well serve in some communities more than others, and depending on the nature of the community, such a model would maybe even prove to be impossible to transfer in its entirety. Nations worldwide are distinct given their unique histories, their complex cultural structure, international relations and their own narratives and experiences, which underlie their specific societal fabric that exist today. Kymlicka’s theoretical framework of minority rights is most useful for our discussion on ethnic and national minorities in search for cultural legitimate solution for the ongoing Saharawi’s nationalists claims for self-government and Berber’s cultural rights demands, highlighting Morocco’s continuous peace-driven efforts that represent a proof that, though Morocco is not entirely liberal, its ‘liberal’ integrative initiatives clearly reflect progressive and developmental steps in that direction.

In many complex areas, Kymlicka’s conceptualizations provide the weightiest arguments in support of liberty, equality and justice for all group members comprising a given society. He is considered the most influential figure in the field of cultural minorities and his work, multicultural citizenship theory is built on liberal democratic principles with regard to minority rights. Moreover, this theory provides a detailed explanation and justification when it comes to understanding the legitimacy of the claims raised by immigrants and indigenous groups in the Western experience. Since we identify with the same diversity challenges today and aspire to arrive at suitable, pragmatic solutions for them, it becomes necessary to benefit from these Multicultural experiences, evaluate the theory’s relevance to our own social reality and try to adapt it according to our own narratives and experiences.

In his Multicultural citizenship: a liberal theory of minority rights, the Canadian philosopher Will Kymlicka raises important questions, providing weighty arguments in support of liberty, justice and equality for minority rights. Multiculturalism is a theory of marginalization that primarily supplements traditional human rights principles with liberal minority rights. Traditional human rights standards, Kymlicka states, are not enough on their own to address and resolve some of the persisting issues relating to cultural minorities. Some of the most controversial questions, Kymlicka cites, are related to language: which languages should be recognized in public institutions? Should the government fund ethnic or national group education in its mother tongue? Territorial sovereignty: Should the Government’s internal boundaries be redrawn and its central power redistributed to small local or regional units headed by particular minorities? Political representation: Should political offices be distributed according to a principle of national or ethnic proportionality? Resource management: Should the traditional homelands of indigenous peoples be reserved for their benefit, and so protected from intrusion by settlers and resource developers? Cultural Integration: What is the degree and effort required of immigrants and refugees to acquire citizenship?

For Kymlicka, traditional human rights doctrine fails to provide any answers to these questions, not out of incapability but deliberate negligence. There is now a range of theories and differing discourses addressing these complexities (group rights, civic nationalism, citizenship federalism, cosmopolitanism). Still, Kymlicka observes, all of these approaches appear to be systematically working to the disadvantage of minorities. Though united with a common problem, what most of these theories do is disagree on how to evaluate the reason and explain the source from which these problems originate. And so, they end up prescribing different solutions as result; each from their own specific standpoint and respective ideals, being more or less, detached from real world politics and existing forms of multiculturalism.

By contrast, Kymlicka’s work closes such a gap between theory and practice; assessing nation-state policies dealing with diversity and cultural rights, citing several hard cases assisting the reader’s better understanding of the present complexities involved in minority state relations, where minorities around the world struggle to maintain their autonomy and value systems, facing asymmetrical treatments as ‘citizens’ at various levels.

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