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Meeting the Challenge of Cultural Diversity in Europe

Moving Beyond the Crisis

Robin Wilson

Europe has talked itself into a refugee and security crisis. There is, however, a misrecognition of the real challenge facing Europe: the challenge of managing the relationship between Europeans and the currently stigmatized ‘others’ which it has attracted. Making the case against a ‘Europe of walls’, Robin Wilson instead proposes a refounding of Europe built on the power of diversity and an ethos of hospitality rather than an institutional thicket serving the market.
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Chapter 2: The old order: how Europe used to manage cultural diversity

Robin Wilson

Extract

There were two prior paradigms for the management of the relationship of the Self and Other—apart from exclusion of the Other, at worst through the Nazi genocide. Assimilationism had a ‘progressive’ aspect, as in the pure French version in which every individual was treated abstractly as an equal citoyen, but often took a ‘thicker’ form (including in France), where members of minority communities were required to subscribe to a purported majority ‘ethos’. It was associated with nationalizing states and was captured in the formula of ‘self-determination’ at the Paris Peace Conference, but its limits were exposed by the interwar collapse of the League of Nations and the rise of Nazism. By contrast, multiculturalism emerged after the second world war, holding that minority ‘communities’, treated as collective entities, had rights to equal ‘respect’ of their purported cultural identities.

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