About the Network
Concepts and practices of ‘multiculturalism’ in its regional, national and international dimensions cut across and integrate linguistic, historical, cultural, religious, legal, and political issues. From the early 1970s to the turn of the new millennium, questions of integration and assimilation of national and ethnic minorities into majority cultures were challenged by a greater emphasis upon diversity. However, the received wisdom of the efficacy of multicultural policies was unhinged by the events of 9/11 and the renewed currency given to Huntington’s thesis of the ‘Clash of Civilisations’.
Proposed Focus of Research
The research will explore the ways in which ‘multiculturalism’ was itself a cultural construct of particular historical circumstances, and how the dangers of national dissolution on the one hand and of discrimination against minorities on the other may be confronted by its re-construction. Research will thereby contribute to public understanding, theory and policy formation, and creative production in areas, for example, of:
- the interactions between minority languages, multilingualism, lingua franca and cultural identity;
- the display and performance of religion, ethnic and cultural identities;
- memories and minorities within Wales;
- parallel legal systems and ethnocultural justice;
- the destruction of multicultural communities through ethnic or nationalist violence and other forms of cultural aggression.
‘Multiculturalism’ takes on particular complexity in societies where the traditional dichotomy of dominant and minority cultures is turned on its head – i.e. where the ‘host’ culture is comparatively marginalised, and in which the hegemonic culture derives, in part, from ‘outside’ the host nation. The advance of globalisation presents new challenges to what was previously understood in terms of nation and empire. Wales is an ideal context for this research – also reinforcing both the ‘Welshness’ and the global orientation of Cardiff University and lending unique identity to the project and potential for international / comparative work, for working with other institutions as partners, and for ‘engagement’ / ‘impact’/ ‘knowledge transfer’ activities.
Cardiff itself, as an increasingly international city as well as the capital of Wales, and a port town with long-established ethnic communities is the obvious location for such a research training focus. The presence of the Welsh Assembly and its government offices make it a place where the consideration of Welsh society/culture vis à vis variety of 'others'-become-Welsh is a live issue. The presence of community organisations such as Butetown History & Arts Centre, with established links to the University, is an additional significant asset.
The distinctive contribution of the Humanities to these issues lies in the focusing of their characteristically multidisciplinary approaches on historical and/or contemporary texts, artefacts and performances across a wide variety of media. The project aims to apply these to the re-construction and re-invention of collective identities, as well as to the cultural dimensions of planning and policy.
(Re)-Constructing Multiculturalism will consist of a research network that links together a series of workshops, seminars, and conferences, along with a number of PhD scholarships to support postgraduate work in this area. In addition, the Researcher and Graduate School in Humanities hosted a student-led conference on the theme in June.