The Possibility of Multicultural Nationhood

American Review of Canadian Studies 51 (1):488-504 (2021)
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In this article, I explain and defend the concept of multicultural nationhood. Multicultural nationhood accounts for how a nation can have a cohesive identity despite being internally diverse. In Canada, the challenge of nation-building despite the country’s diversity has prompted reflection on how to conceive of the national identity. The two most influential theories of multiculturalism to come from Canada, those of Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka, emerged through consideration of Canada’s diversity, particularly the place of Québécois, Indigenous peoples, and immigrants in society. I begin by synthesizing Taylor’s and Kymlicka’s theories. I then propose a new subjective definition of nation, wherein the character of a nation is determined by how its members conceive of themselves. Once these concepts are explained, they are combined in an account of multicultural nationhood. Multicultural nationhood involves the cultivation of a national identity wherein various cultural groups are recognized as constitutive of the nation.

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Eric Wilkinson
McGill University


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