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Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World

edited by Will Kymlicka & Eva Pfostl

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list price: $100.00
published: 2014

Since the Arab Spring, Arab states have become the new front line in the struggle for democratization and for open societies. As the experience of other regions has shown, one of the most significant challenges facing democratization relates to minority rights. This book explores how minority claims are framed and debated in the region, and in particular, how political actors draw upon, re-interpret, or resist both the new global discourses of minority rights and more local traditions and practices of co-existence.

The contributors examine a range of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial factors that shape contemporary minority politics in the Arab world, and that encumber the reception of international norms of multiculturalism. These factors include the contested legacies of Islamic doctrines of the "dhimmi" and the Ottoman millet system, colonial-era divide and rule strategies, and post-colonial Arab nation-building. While these legacies complicate struggles for minority rights, they do not entail an "Arab exceptionalism" to global trends to multiculturalism.

This volume explores a number of openings for new more pluralistic conceptions of nationhood and citizenship, and suggests that minority politics at its best can serve as a vehicle for a more general transformative politics, supporting a broader culture of democracy and human rights, and challenging older authoritarian, clientalistic, or patriarchal political tendencies. The chapters include both broad theoretical and historical perspectives as well as more focused case studies (including Western Sahara/Morocco, Algeria, Israel/Palestine; Sudan; United Arab Emirates, and Iraq).

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Contributor notes

Will Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. His work, translated into 34 languages, has focused on how democratic countries address issues of ethnic, racial and religious diversity, with a special focus on the theory and practice of multicultural citizenship. He is the author of seven books published by Oxford University Press, including Multicultural Citizenship (1995), and Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity (2007). Eva Pfostl is Scientific Director in the Department of Law and Economics at the Istituto di Studi Politici S. Pio V, Rome, Contract Professor at the University LUSPIO Rome and LUISS University Rome, and Adviser of the Tibetans in Exile. Her research interest focus on comparative constitutional law with a special focus on minority and group rights in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. She is author of several publications among them La questione tibetana. Autonomia e non indipendenza. Una proposta realistica, Marsilio Editore 2009.

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