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Multi-Culturalism: The Opposite of Nationalism??

Multi-Culturalism: The Opposite of Nationalism?
Khairil Ahmad

In this discussion with Maiken, Khairil Ahmad, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus, builds on his earlier discussion of Islam and Freedom, now addressing the theme of community.

In the West, we often think of multi-culturalism as the opposite of an exclusionary nationalism, which recognises as full citizens only those who shared in the dominant culture, religion, and “ethnicity”. But the example of Malaysia explored here suggested that a constitutional arrangement based on multiple identity groups does not necessarily create a more open society: it can also cement “identity politics”, limiting people’s own choices about who they want to be, and which community they want to be part of.

Think about the Malaysian model of multi-culturalism discussed here: is it totally unique to that country, or does it have more general implications? How does this sort of arrangement connect to ideas of progress and democracy? What is the relationship between modernity and multi-culturalism? Please share your thoughts; and as always, we’d be particularly interested to hear from learners from different countries!

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