ISSJ - N° 199: Cultural Diversity

March 2010
Editorial Adviser: Sophia Labadi

Cultural diversity remains amongst the most charged of issues in the contemporary global field. Considered to be at once the dominant ideology of our times, the glorious translation of identity politics into policy, and a masked for of neo-colonialism, cultural diversity elicits controversy on both the left and right.

Since its inception, UNESCO has been a central force in longstanding debates on racism, culture, and plurality. More recently, UNESCO has become one of the most important voices in shaping the debates on cultural diversity which it steadfastly tries to reconcile with its intellectual commitment to concrete universalism.

The papers assembled here emerge as an intellectual supplement to UNESCO’s 2009 World Report on Cultural Diversity and thus critically reflect on the political, social and subjective implications of “cultural diversity”. By examining how the concept is deployed and “lived” in a variety of contexts, this volume serves to demystify the reception of “cultural diversity” as an idea that is intrinsically emancipatory, while simultaneously problematizing many of the assumptions about difference and uniformity that serve to naturalize the concept in policy, practice, and scholarship.

Hence, this volume attempts to explore the horizon of cultural diversity and examines it in relation to questions of cultural rights, multilingualism, post and anti-multiculturalism, media representations of otherness, climate change and biodiversity. Whether reduced to a buzzword or elevated to the basis of new forms of global governance to come, cultural diversity is a social fact and one which still merits interdisciplinary critical attention. 

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