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Africa Multiculturalism

Multicultural Problems In Africa, Multiculturalism And Culture, Bibliography

Multiculturalism means different things to different people. For some it is directly linked to the politics of recognition and of difference (Taylor). In this regard, it concerns an appreciation of the necessity to deal with diversity in ways that affirm the value of different cultures and to respect the various claims made by minority groups. For others, multiculturalism concerns an explicit policy of protecting particularistic local cultures in the face of hegemonic and global cultures (both Australia and Canada have such self-conscious policies) or it can refer to a loose form of cultural pluralism (Kuper). Since multiculturalism is not a homogeneous concept or practice, it is important to differentiate between multiculturalism as a practical response to diversity and as an aspect of social philosophy advocating particular values with respect to cultural differences. There is no unifying theory of multiculturalism, and its respect for difference finds expression in a variety of political, social, and cultural approaches to problems of diversity.

The concept of multiculturalism does not enjoy widespread currency in African social thought. It is certainly not a topic of debate in early-twenty-first-century intellectual discourse on the continent. There are many reasons for this neglect, but it is undoubtedly connected to the fact that African societies are intrinsically multiethnic and multicultural. Diversity is not a new thing in Africa. Multiculturalism is premised on challenges to hegemonic cultures occasioned by the large-scale migrations of people who may experience alienation, marginalization, and exclusion in the host country. Sweden, for example, was remarkably homogeneous in a cultural sense prior to the influx of migrant laborers in the 1960s. African countries, in contrast, have entirely different histories. By and large, African states were formed by colonialism, usually to serve the interests of the colonists and, therefore, with little attention paid to the precolonial ethnic allegiances and other forms of belonging. These different histories play a critical role in the extent to which the concept of multiculturalism may be relevant in the African context.

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