Kymlicka, Multiculturalism, and Non-Western Nations: The Problem with Liberalism

Public Affairs Quarterly 17 (4):291-318 (2003)
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In this paper, I argue that Will Kymlicka’s theory of “mult”-iculturalism serves to unwittingly perpetuate a form of neo-colonial agenda in which Indigenous claims for recognition and sovereignty in Canada are accommodated to the degree and extent to which they are willing to “liberalize” and promote distinctly Euro-Western self-understandings and conceptions of individual autonomy (tied to substantive notions such as private property) – the supposedly foundational value and defining feature of liberalism. In fact, Kymlicka vehemently attacks Rawls’ theory of political liberalism, whose tolerance-based conception provides a far more open theoretical normative architecture within which to dialogue with non-Western nations, where views of self, autonomy, property, land, non-human animals, and secularism may differ radically from those of liberal Western nations – or so I contend here.

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Ashwani Kumar Peetush
Wilfrid Laurier University


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