This publication comprises the papers accepted for the first of two academic workshops on the theme of ‘Debating Multiculturalism’ organised by the Dialogue Society in spring 2012. The Dialogue Society is organising this first workshop through its Leeds Branch in partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University and Mevlana University. The papers presented here are unedited papers submitted and printed in advance of the workshop.
The papers presented here address a question of acute contemporary relevance: should multiculturalism be jettisoned as a failure or defended as the path to a flourishing diversity? The ‘state multiculturalism’ publicly criticised last year in David Cameron’s Munich Speech was a UK example of European government policies embodying a concern to ensure respect for the cultural and religious identities of minorities. Cameron is one of a number of prominent voices in the European political mainstream, who claim that multiculturalism has failed to counteract fragmentation and extremism. Meanwhile, proponents of multiculturalism continue to urge that to abandon multiculturalism would be to abandon an achievable future of genuine equality, mutual respect and creative intercultural symbiosis.
Focusing primarily on multiculturalism in the UK context, these papers bring the perspectives of academics and practitioners to bear on this eminently topical and crucially important debate.