Tuesday, June 28, 2016

History of multicultural cities

What is the most multicultural city in the world?  There is a whole industry in Toronto devoted to supporting its claim, but it is hotly contested by Vancouver.  Melbourne, Frankfurt, Birmingham, and Singapore probably don't even notice. Then there are Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.

University of Toronto Press has recently published Multicultural Cities: Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, by Mohammad Abdul Qadeer, who teaches at Queen's in Kingston.  He has some ground rules:
Cities that do not promote civil rights to diversity are not multicultural even if people of different cultural origins live there....They are multi-ethnic without being multicultural.
Multiculturalism, he posits, "is the combination of cultural diversity with a common ground of values and institutions." You need confident, assertive minority communities, not just (potentially marginal) immigrants and expats. Qadeer argues that to be a contender for multicultural status, a city needs to exist within a strong democracy, with strong guarantees of civil rights, and a resulting culture of (at least) tolerance and accommodation. Cities have always attracted diverse minorities. They have rarely been multicultural.

And multiculturalism is a set of political/societal choices, not just a byproduct of mobility or prosperity.

Published in March. I haven't found much in the way of reviews yet.

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