The Varieties of Cultural Perception: Multiculturalism after Recognition

The European Legacy 16 (6):735 - 750 (2011)
Abstract
Doubts about the enterprise of cultural recognition have helped to fuel a backlash against the politics of multiculturalism in Europe during the last decade. Such doubts are well-founded. Charles Taylor's seminal discussion of the politics of recognition neglects serious difficulties that arise for the activity of recognition when the objective and subjective dimensions of cultural identity diverge. Narratives of cultural ?passing? help to highlight these difficulties and demonstrate that recognition can sometimes contribute to identity-based oppression. However, this conclusion does not commit us to a politics of cultural indifference or assimilation: the rejection of recognition does not entail the rejection of perception in general. Iris Murdoch's notion of ?attention? provides a corrective to our understanding of recognition and thereby supplies a potentially superior ethical and perceptual basis for European multiculturalism in the twenty-first century
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