Overview / Editorial
Maguire, Mark and Titley, Gavan (2010) Overview / Editorial. Translations: Migration and Social Change, 6 (2). pp. 1-5. ISSN 2009-0420
‘Integration’ has been established as the preferred rubric for academic discussions, popular polemics and political proposals concerning migration, difference and social futures in globalised nation-states, particularly in western Europe. This amplification owes much to its perceived, corrective relationship to ‘multiculturalism’, widely – and erroneously – regarded as a ‘failed experiment’ requiring rehabilitative action on issues such as social cohesion, ‘shared values’ and variously grounded common ‘ways of life’. While this shift far exceeds any ordinary etymological or definitional controversy, both terms invite similar forms of ambivalent reading. In Shohat and Stam’s discussion of the wild polysemy of multiculturalism, the idea, they argue, is useful because it can be made to insist on a ‘constitutive heterogeneity’ (2008: 3) that refuses the foundational constructions of a national ethnos. The converse is equally plausible; much of the scattergun opprobrium directed at and through the idea of multiculturalism is a consequence of its pronounced sense of imposition, an unwelcome and unasked for amendment to a pre-existing monoculturalism. For this reason, ‘the very idea of multiculturalism, the ideology, disturbs out of proportion to what in fact it may be’ (Elliot and Lemert 2006: 137).
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