Multiculturalism and its Discontents

Date: Monday 5 October, 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm

Venue: Carriageworks Theatre, Millennium Room

Speakers: Adrian Hart, Paul Thomas, Yunas Samad

£5 waged/£4 unwaged to pay on the door. To reserve a place, please e-mail us at contact@leedssalon.org.uk

A satellite event for the Battle of Ideas 2015*

Multiculturalism has come in for increasing criticism lately. Policies that were first posed as a solution to the racial conflicts of the 1980s have come to be seen by many as the cause of ‘myriad social ills’.

Recent comments by UKIP leader Nigel Farage in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre that multiculturalist policies ‘wilfully segregate us’ and Prime Minister David Cameron that they have encourage ‘different cultures to live separate lives’, echo those of the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, that such policies are out-dated and have legitimised ‘separateness’ between communities.

In particular, such separateness, some argue, is reflected in both the increasing disengagement of both Muslim youth and the growing attraction of ‘radical Islam’, and of sections of the white working class and the growing popularity of right-wing and anti-immigrant parties such as UKIP.

However, many would argue that not only have such policies helped make Britain a fairer and more tolerant nation, but to do away with them would risk taking Britain back 30 years - pointing to the rise of UKIP and racist incidents on social media and in sport as evidence of the ‘unwitting racism’, if not outright prejudice, that still lurks just below the surface of British society making the promotion of multiculturalism as necessary as ever.

So are the criticisms of multiculturalist policies fair? Do they threaten to re-create and reinforce a more divided Britain? Or are they still essential to delivering a fairer, more tolerant and egalitarian society? And if multiculturalist policy is a problem, what would we put in its place?

Readings:

'Understanding Concerns about Community Relations', Paul Thomas, from Identity papers: A journal of British and Irish studies, April 2015.

What's the problem with multiculturalism?, Kenan Malik, Pandeamonium, October 2014

It's mostley anti-racists keeping racism alive, Adrian Hart, Spiked, 22 March 2011

‘Changing directions: young people and effective work against racism’. Paul Thomas & Tom Henri Journal of Youth Studies, 2011

True Multiculturalism acts as a bulwark against further extremism, Rob Berkeley, Left Foot Forward,  10 February 2011

Muslims and Community Cohesion in Bradford, Yunas Samad, Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report, 2010

 

Battle of Ideas

The Battle of Ideas is two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate organised by the Institute of Ideas, and held on Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th October at the Barbican, London. The Festival comprises over 80 debates and satellite discussions confronting society’s big issues and unresolved questions. For more information and tickets, visit: www.battleofideas.org.uk/

 


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