The Crises of Multiculturalism

Racism in a Neoliberal Age

Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley


This book challenges the narrative of multiculturalism by questioning the existence of a coherent era of 'multiculturalism' in the first place.
Across the West, something called multiculturalism is in crisis. Regarded as the failed experiment of liberal elites, commentators and politicians compete to denounce its corrosive legacies; parallel communities threatening social cohesion, enemies within cultivated by irresponsible cultural relativism, mediaeval practices subverting national 'ways of life' and universal values.

This important new book challenges this familiar narrative of the rise and fall of multiculturalism by challenging the existence of a coherent era of 'multiculturalism' in the first place. The authors argue that what we are witnessing is not so much a rejection of multiculturalism as a projection of neoliberal anxieties onto the social realities of lived multiculture. Nested in an established post-racial consensus, new forms of racism draw powerfully on liberalism and questions of 'values', and unsettle received ideas about racism and the 'far right' in Europe.

In combining theory with a reading of recent controversies concerning headscarves, cartoons, minarets and burkas, Lentin and Titley trace a transnational crisis that travels and is made to travel, and where rejecting multiculturalism is central to laundering increasingly acceptable forms of racism.

Author Bio

Alana Lentin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Sussex, UK.

Gavan Titley is Lecturer in the School of English, Media and Theatre Studies, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland.

Table of Contents

  • Preface, by Gary Younge
  • Introduction and Acknowledgments
  • Part I: Recited Truths: the Contours of Multicultural Crisis
    • 1. The New Certainties
    • 2. Recited Truths
    • 3. The Comforts of Crisis
    • 4. The Recited Truths of (British) Multiculturalism: a Rough Guide
    • 5. Species of Blowback
    • 6. The Long Unsettled Settlement
  • Part II: Let's Talk About Your Culture: Post-Race, Post-Racism
    • 7. Introduction: 'Race is Irrelevant, But All Is Race'
    • 8. Reflections on Reflections: Can Europe be Racialized with Cultural People in it?
    • 9. The Apparatus of Race
    • 10. No Race, No Power, New Problems
    • 11. An Era of Post-Racialism
    • 12. The Ascent of Culture
    • 13. The Fault-Lines of Postracialism
  • Part III: Free Like Me: the Polyphony of Liberal Postracialism
    • 14. From Evil to Relativism
    • 15. In the Mirror, Through the Looking Glass
    • 16. Liberal Populism, and Populist Liberalism
    • 17. Europe's Prime Multicultural Experiment
    • 18. The New Realism
    • 19. Liberal Populism, and Populist Liberalism
    • 20. The Polyphony of  'Identity Liberalism'
  • Part IV: Mediating the Crisis: Circuits of Belief
    • 21. Mediated Minarets
    • 22. From Integration Debates to Integration Events
    • 23. The Diminishing Returns of Honesty and Openness
    • 24. Genres of Event
    • 25. Something Rotten, etc, etc
    • 26. Recited Truths, Circuits of Belief
    • 27. Petri-Dish Cities
    • 28. Coda: On Critics
  • Part V: Good and Bad Diversity: the Shape of Neoliberal Racisms
    • 29. Introduction: Pragmatic, Elastic, Ubiquitous
    • 30. Analysing Contamination
    • 31. Racy: Racial Neoliberalism and the Privatization of Race
    • 32. Privatizing Racism
    • 33. The Promise, and Problem of Diversity
    • 34. Love Diversity, Hate Racism
    • 35. Diversity Politics, and the Politics of Diversity
    • 36. Conclusion: the Burka as Bad Diversity and Governmental Event
  • Part VI: On One More Condition: the Politics of Integration Today
    • 37. Introduction
    • 38. The Rise of Domopolitics
    • 39. Integrating the Sexual Nation
    • 40. Not Free Enough: Sexual Repression as a Barrier to Integration
    • References and Bibliography


'Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley offer a powerful and persuasive account of how multiculturalism has been sentenced to death.'
Sara Ahmed, Professor of Race and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College

'This is necessary reading for anyone concerned with the complex masking of racism within the rhetorical dance of national identities and globalized neo-liberal ideologies.'
Charles Husband, Centre for Applied Social Research, University of Bradford

'Those concerned to understand the synchrony of multiculturalism, integration, and revitalized racisms across the European landscape would do well to consult this book.'
David Theo Goldberg, University of California

'The smiling rhetoric of tolerance, we learn here, is still produced by sharp white teeth. Highly recommended!' Howard Winant, UC Santa Barbara, Director, University of California Center for New Racial Studies


Publication Date: 14 July 2011
296 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848135819
Hardback: 9781848135802
eBook ePub: 9781780321400
eBook PDF: 9781848135826
eBook Kindle: 9781780322360

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