Researchers from York U and around the world to discuss future of multiculturalism


TORONTO, March 4, 2011 – Researchers from York and from universities and centres in Canada, the U.S., Denmark, Holland and Hungary will discuss prospects for multiculturalism in Canada and abroad on Monday, March 7, during a one-day conference at York's Keele campus.

Hosted by York’s European Union Centre of Excellence (EUCE), “The Maturing of the Multicultural Experiment: European Challenges Coming to Canada?” conference will take place in the York Research Tower, Rm. 519, from 9am - 5pm.

York University political science professor Saeed Rahnema will speak on “Patchwork versus Integrative Multiculturalism: The Case of Muslims in Canada.”

“Canada’s multicultural policy isn’t keeping pace with changing times,” says Rahnema, who teaches in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). “We have the most diverse Muslim population in the western world, yet homogenized and Islamophobic views of these highly differentiated communities pervade. The current policies, without paying much attention to the problems faced by Muslim communities, are helping to create isolated, self-contained enclaves and a shift towards faith-based multiculturalism,” he says.

Adrian Shubert, professor of history in York’s Faculty of LA&PS, will address Europeans’ present-day struggle with issues of multiculturalism by looking through an historical lens.

“Before the French Revolution, Europe was really quite diverse,” says Shubert. “The revolution and subsequent European liberalism overturned that diversity. It sought to create populations that were as legally, linguistically, religiously and culturally uniform as possible. This search for uniformity, a hidden thread in Europe's modern history, helps explain the inability of Europeans to accept multiculturalism today, he says.

Presenters will also discuss the history and integration of the Roma people, in Europe as well as in North America.

The event was convened by EUCE York Research Fellows, Hannah Biesterfeld (master’s candidate, Political Science, York University), Karina Pogosyan (master’s candidate, Public and International Affairs, Glendon College, York University) and Sibylle Schaffhauser (master’s candidate, North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin).

For more information, visit the EUCE website.


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