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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, insightful take on a wellworn subject
Multiculturalism has come under increasing attack in the past two decades. It began with a backlash against affirmative action in the US in the 1990s, and intensified after 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe. Now it's routine to see multiculturalist excess derided and mocked.

In this book, Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley do a good job of charting the...
Published on 24 Feb. 2013 by Genie

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious left wing rubbish.
I so wanted to enjoy this having read the amazing 'Reflections on the Revolution in Europe'.
I guess its hard for any book to live up to this book, but it can at least try.
Published 21 months ago by Jayfeebie


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, insightful take on a wellworn subject, 24 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
Multiculturalism has come under increasing attack in the past two decades. It began with a backlash against affirmative action in the US in the 1990s, and intensified after 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks in Europe. Now it's routine to see multiculturalist excess derided and mocked.

In this book, Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley do a good job of charting the process, and also exposing the true reasons for it. Multiculturalism is a straw man, the authors argue. Despite what you read all the time in outraged newspaper columns, there was never a concerted government policy to promote other cultures or encourage difference.

The current threats, too, are overblown. When the French Parliament voted to ban the burka, only 0.1% of Muslim women wore it. When Switzerland banned the construction of minarets, there were only four in the whole country, and they were already prohibited from issuing a call to prayer. Yet a Swiss MP still warned that minarets could lead to sharia law in Switzerland, with "honour killings, forced marriages, circumcision, wearing the burka, ignoring school rules, and even stoning."

Attacking multiculturalism is also used as a covert way of expressing racist opinions in societies where overt racism is no longer acceptable in the mainstream. So when Sarkozy attacks the Roma and links rising crime with immigrant "scum", it's apparently not racist, but merely a reaction against the politically correct excesses of liberal multiculturalism. Lentin and Titley do a good job of tracing in detail how thin the division is between race and culture, and how racism can often be smuggled in under the guise of legitimate cultural criticism.

This is not to say that they propose complete cultural relativism - it's not racist to have a problem with stoning or forced marriage - but merely to point out how often cultural issues are used as a cover for underlying racist actions. Progressive causes are often co-opted, too, as the English Defence League presents itself as a champion of gay rights, or Donald Rumsfeld claims to care about the oppression of Afghan women.

Meanwhile, impossible demands are placed on minority cultures within Europe and the US. There's a chapter on "good and bad diversity", illustrated with a reference to Ibsen's play The Doll House, in which a man sees his wife as a doll to be manipulated and treated in a patronising way.

This is supported by a great quote from Gary Younge:

"Somewhere out there is the Muslim that the British government seeks. Like all religious people he (the government is more likely to talk about Muslim women than to them) supports gay rights, racial equality, women's rights, tolerance and parliamentary democracy. He abhors the murder of innocent civilians without exception - unless they are in Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq. He wants to be treated as a regular British citizen - but not by the police, immigration or airport security. He raises his daughters to be assertive: they can wear whatever they want so long as it's not a headscarf. He believes in free speech and the right to cause offence but understands that he has neither the right to be offended nor to speak out. Whatever an extremist is, on any given day, he is not it."

Lots of good points, then, but the one downside of this book was the occasionally stultifying language. Take this sentence, for example:

"In a prescient passage in Even in Sweden, Allan Pred (2000) poses a series of questions probing the ways in which the uncritical ontological and discursive overlaps between mainstream multiculturalism and its strategic racist appropriation may serve to further produce racialized populations as subjects of problematization and regulation."

The problem for me is not that I don't understand the words, but that the order in which they are presented makes my eyes glaze over. If I read the sentence a second time I can work out its meaning, but I'm left with a sense of frustration at being forced to do this unnecessary work. I'm happy to use my brain while reading, but prefer to reserve it for understanding complex arguments or making associations and leaps of my own. When I'm forced to use it to grapple with the basic meaning of a sentence, I feel that the writers haven't really done their job properly. Give me Gary Younge's style any day.

Nevertheless, for its nuanced, fresh take on a variety of contemporary issues, I'd still recommend reading this book. People who are used to reading academic language will have no problem with it at all. General readers may find their attention wandering in places, as I did, but will still get plenty of interesting ideas from it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding work, 7 Feb. 2012
By 
K. Withnail (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
This book is an astounding piece of scholarship.
Every page is crammed with pin-point analysis of nearly every single book on the topic. Check their bibliography - it's twenty-four pages long. Yes, it's dense, yes, its arguments are heavily nuanced and complex. But of course it is - this is a field that for the last twenty years has been steadily dominated by staid, lumpen critiques with the simplicity of a housebrick, as the authors themselves say in the first chapter, where they state that the complexity of the book is a deliberate, considered response to this.
And frankly it is far more readable than the absurd caricature of the below review suggests, whose author has purposefully picked what they found the most difficulty with to quote. There are some scintillating sentences in this book, not only readable, but with the weight of scholarship behind them, positively uplifting. Consider "...the primary 'recited truth' of crisis politics: that 'race' is a fiction, and racism, when it is discussed is dismissed as a fraught, accusatory moralism", or "The progressive yardsticks waved at migrants, who are always already presumed backward, belies the fact that there are few Western states whose legal practices and clusters of dominant opinion are as liberal as their rhetoric when it comes to feminism and LGBT rights.".
I have yet to find a serious argument advanced about multiculturalism that is not dealt with capably and concisely in this book. It is one of the best pieces of work about the subject that I have ever read, and certainly in the last twenty years. Lentin and Titley should feel very proud of themselves - this is essential reading, indeed a definitive work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense - but worth all of it., 7 Feb. 2012
By 
Miss N. Doshi (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
The Crises of Multiculturalism tells the rise of Islamophobia, conveniently disguised by the left and right as the failings of 'multiculturalism'. With references to Britain's internal race politics, the tail ends of the Cold War, 9/11 all the way until present - Lentin and Titley detail how "liberalism" has appropriated the grounds of "liberation", pushing the identity politics out of the political mainstream. Racism and xenophobia are back in the ballgame, but on the most part, it's covert and illicit.

I wouldn't suggest you pick up this book if you're looking for a quick read, a simple narrative or pop-politics. The book is dense, woven through-out with compelling evidence and powerful. It would have been nice to have had fewer references and quotations across the book (it reads as an academic text) but other than that, I strongly recommend that policy-makers give this a good look. A few of us will be up in arms about these issues pretty soon if you don't.

The only question I'm left asking is: Why isn't there more about this in mainstream writing? I do hope Lentin and Titley write something for the masses too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how the claim of the failure of multiculturalism is related to racism, 14 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
This book is one of the most informative and thoughtful analysis on the so-called demise of multiculturalism which exists in current scholarship. Its strength is that it asks what people talk about when they talk about multiculturalism, thereby dismantling the hidden assumptions and agenda behind the rhetoric. The book's main arguments are that multiculturalism is a term which is used for different ideological purposes and political aims by different actors and that there has never been such a thing as a coherent concept of multiculturalism. Rather it is already a lived reality. The authors show in convincing detail that the claims of the failure of multiculturalism is directly linked with a rise in racism and its legitimation. The trend towards colour-blindness (what the authors coin as post-racism) justifies racism in that it denies it exists by precluding the very possibility of forming an autonomous and different identity by non-white citizens. The analysis and argument is bolstered by meticulous detail to the rich existing scholarship on race and multiculturalism, the scope and depth of which is impressive. This book represents the sorely needed background analysis to the superficial media reports on multiculturalism and an authoritative introduction to scholarship on race and migration. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good points, 11 Feb. 2013
By 
Kate (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
This books makes a key political point - that multiculturalism, per se, is not so much an actually existing social relationship as it is a straw man for political rhetoric and claims from all sides. By introducing a strong theoretical base, this book goes a long way to providing something that actually _can_ be substantively critiqued. Overall, a good foundational book for understanding multiculturalism in a Continental context (both actual and philosophical.) However, it is not light reading and is highly academic in nature; those looking for a light read about multiculturalism or a current events approach won't find it here. This is probably best for those that already have a good grounding in political philosophy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone concerned about the issue of race and racism today, 29 Feb. 2012
In this book, Lentin and Titley explore how today, in what widely regarded as a post-racial era, racism increasingly finds its articulation through notions of culture, and more specifically through attacks on multiculturalism. However, they show that firstly, even amongst its critics, there is no coherent idea of what multiculturalism is and secondly, that multicultural policies persist across Europe. The book argues that the attack on multiculturalism is an attack on the multicultural reality of life in the West today. It is the possible co-existence of different groups of people that is being questioned, and this questioning has moved from the far right fringes into the heart of the mainstream political debate.

The book is an excellent account of the history of the doctrine of multiculturalism and maps multiculti critics from the left and the right. It is a must read for anyone concerned with the issue of race and racism, and offers an excellent critique of contemporary liberalism and its inability to shed its racist, Eurocentric roots.

Read my interview with Alana Lentin about the book here - [...]
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1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious left wing rubbish., 18 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
I so wanted to enjoy this having read the amazing 'Reflections on the Revolution in Europe'.
I guess its hard for any book to live up to this book, but it can at least try.
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29 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Incomprehensible - The authors may have something worthwhile to say but they're not about to let you in on their secret, 29 Sept. 2011
By 
Jay123 (London, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
I think I might agree with what the authors of this book have to say about multiculturalism. I even think that what they think might be a worthwhile subject for a book. But there's no way of knowing one way or the other.

The authors do not seem to realise that a book, first and foremost, must be understood - that there is no point spouting some post-modernist jibberish if you actually have something to say. Unfortunately, even if the authors do have anything to say, I think the reader of a book like this is entitled to assume the worst.

If this is what passes for sociology these days (or academia, at least - there are a great many quotes from 'the field' which are equally incomprehensible) it's a depressing state of affairs.

In the 1990s, Alan Sokal famously had a spoof essay published in the self-regarding, post-modernist literary journal Social Text. The editors inhabited a world which even they did not understand, where language had become utterly detached from meaning and in which reputation with one's peers rested solely on conjuring up, through nonsensical combinations of clever-looking words, an imagined higher plane of understanding which did not actually exist. The reality is that if a sentence doesn't appear to make sense, that is a bad thing, not a good thing.

So: here's how this book begins:

"Few people - particularly those given to regarding actually existing practices of state multiculturalism as a form of liberal nationalism, or overdetermining culturalism, or micro-colonialism, or political containment - can have guessed at the depths of its transformative power".

It's a lot of long words, but at least you can tell what they're getting at (even though it seems to me that the "it" in this sentence is never defined). Anyway, it's only downhill from there.

This, from the 3rd page, is typical:

"If the humanitarian and civilizing discourses of the war on terror are undergirded by a depoliticizing extraction of conflict 'from the dense lattice of geopolitical and political-economic considerations to be depicted as stark morality tales', the conventional accounting of multicultural collapse rehearses stark new certainties".

Ok, so maybe it's me. I get the vague idea there might be a point behind this sentence but if I want a puzzle, I can do a crossword or something. I'd actually rather this book told me something about "the crises of multiculturalism", which is why I bought it.

Every page is the same - it's like some mysterious faith-based exercise in reading. Imagine what you want them to be saying and then, if you can imagine the words do say what you want them to be saying, then yes, take it that they are saying that.
Every fifth sentence or so is straightforward. Actually, now I'm looking for one... and I really can't find one ... anywhere!

"Integral to this neo-patriotism is the liberal discourse of inclusionary exclusion that has suffused European political cultures, providing malleable possibilities for the ongoing cultural labour of imagined communities". That's about as good as it gets - mainly because it's one of the few sentences in the book that doesn't include the word 'polysemy', but also because at least a phrase like 'inclusionary exclusion' is amusing.

Anyway, page 3 is, unfortunately, as far as I got. Thanks for the memories Lentin and Titley. And to think - I reckon I'm one of the sympathetic ones.

Do Amazon do returns for this kind of thing?
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Crises of Multiculturalism, 3 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: The Crises of Multiculturalism (Paperback)
i would just like to support the other positive reviews. this book is excellent. the best thing i've read on racism and multiculturalism
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The Crises of Multiculturalism
The Crises of Multiculturalism by Gavan Titley (Paperback - 14 July 2011)
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