Multiculturalism in Asia

Will Kymlicka,

Multiculturalism in Asia
 
 
This volume explores the different ways that ethnic and religious diversity is conceptualized and debated in South and East Asia. In the first few decades following decolonization, talk of multiculturalism and pluralism was discouraged, as states attempted to consolidate themselves as unitary and homogenizing nation-states. Today, however, it is widely recognized that states in the region must come to terms with the enduring reality of ethnic and religious cleavages,and find new ways of accommodating and respecting diversity. As a result, many countries are now debating policies to accommodate minorities, including recognition of indigenous rights, minority language rights, consociational power-sharing, regional autonomy, and multination federalism. This isoften described as a key ingredient in any process of democratization in the region.One manifestation of this new ethos is the growing rhetoric of 'multiculturalism', often imported from the West. And indeed Western models of minority rights have had an influence in many Asian countries, often promoted by international organizations. However, Asian societies also have their own traditions of peaceful coexistence amongst linguistic and religious groups. All of the major ethical and religious traditions in the region - from Confucian and Buddhist to Islamic and Hindu - havetheir own conceptions of tolerance, and their own recipes for sustaining unity amidst diversity. These traditions continue to shape people's beliefs and practices in the region. Even the distinctive conception of Marxism developed in the region provides an influential perspective on these issues notfound in the West. The rhetoric of 'multiculturalism' may be ubiquitous around the world, but it is being used to express quite different ideas and norms.Using both case studies and thematic essays, this volume examines the pre-colonial traditions, colonial legacies, and post-colonial ideologies that influence contemporary debates on multiculturalism in the region. It explores the areas of convergence and divergence between these different perspectives, and the extent to which they provide viable frameworks for managing ethnic and religious diversity in the region.


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