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Cardiff network to explore UK’s rich multiculturalism and the challenges it presents

15 February 2010

Understanding and meeting the challenge of UK multiculturalism will be the focus of a major new Cardiff University research network.

Over the last few decades Britain and Wales have been both enriched and challenged in significant ways by increasing cultural and religious diversity. Issues of citizenship, common values, cultural and religious difference, and cross and intercultural relations have gained in importance.

Multiculturalism has been on the political agenda since Roy Jenkins MP made his groundbreaking speech in 1966. Discussion of the issue reached a highpoint with the publication of the Parekh Report on The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain in 2000, which called among other things for a move from tolerance to acceptance of difference and a celebration of diversity.

Since then, 9/11, the London bombings and on-going concerns with home-grown terrorism have led to a widespread questioning of how we understand multiculturalism and to a focus on issues of Britishness and the promotion of shared values.

Professor Chris Weedon from Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy, who also chairs the multi-ethnic organisation, Butetown History & Arts Centre, added: "This research network will address issues of multiculturalism in the Welsh context where questions of Welsh language, culture and history complexify issues of identity and belonging for white as well as Black and minority ethnic communities.

"It will engage directly with communities, seeking to promote creative partnerships between them and academic staff and postgraduate students."

The (Re)-Constructing Multiculturalism Network will bring together academic staff and postgraduate students in humanities and social science disciplines from across Cardiff University to analyse social and cultural issues related to multiculturalism.

It will engage with ideas of integration that privilege questions of values, rights and duties and/or culture, religion and lifestyles. Potential research areas include minority languages, multilingualism, lingua franca and cultural identity; the display and performance of religion; ethnic and cultural identities; parallel legal systems and ethnocultural justice; and the destruction of multicultural communities through ethnic or nationalist violence and other forms of cultural aggression.

Most significantly for the project, it will question whether issues of social cohesion can be divorced from forms of social and cultural exclusion that work through class, racism and ethnocentrism.

The research network will contribute to greater visibility of the positive dimensions of multiculturalism as well as public understanding and policy formation and will include a specific Welsh dimension.

Key to the new network is the availability of four new PhD scholarships. The Scholarships, available over the next two years, are part of a new £4M investment to coincide with the inauguration of Professor Sir Martin Evans, Nobel Prize for Medicine 2007, as Cardiff University’s new President.

Further information on the (Re)-Constructing Multiculuralism scholarship opportunities and other Cardiff University President’s Research Scholarships are available at:



1. Further information on the project and media comment is available by contacting:

Professor Chris Weedon
School of English, Communication and Philosophy
Cardiff University
Telephone: 02920 875606

2. Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

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