Diasporas in Multiculturalism
: Managing Difference

  • Norman Vesonadan Vasu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Motivated by the desire to see a world living up to the ideal of harmonious multicultural communities, this thesis critically assesses two contemporary approaches to multiculturalism, namely Liberalism 1 and 2. The central argument forwarded here is that although Liberalism 1 and 2 are commendable approaches to the management of difference in a polity, they are unable to secure long-term intergroup harmony owing to the static understanding of identity that underpins both approaches.
To highlight the shortcomings of Liberalism 1 and 2, this thesis examines the relationship between diasporas and more sessile communities. Diasporas have been specifically selected for this purpose for two reasons. Firstly, most comprehensive discussions on multiculturalism have not employed the experience of diasporas in their research. Secondly, as the number of diasporas are set to grow and as the term is traditionally used in a negative way in reference to a `difficult' minority, there is a need to examine approaches towards multiculturalism through diasporic eyes.
Evaluation of the three diasporic experiences of the Chinese, Africans and Jews in both Liberalism I and 2 has supported the main argument of the thesis. All three experiences have revealed that Liberalism 1 and 2 are unable to attain their longterm goals for multiculturalism due to three difficulties that stem from their static notion of identity. (1) Both positions foreclose the possibility for long-term harmony in a multicultural polity due to an overly pessimistic approach to the management of difference. Due to this foreclosure, predictions of conflict unwittingly prove to be true. (2) Liberalism 1 is overly reliant on constant but unachievable enforcement with its difference-blind approach to the management of difference. (3) The need for Liberalism 2 to compartmentalise individuals into distinct groups leads to the perpetuation of stereotypes while also denying individuals the opportunity to redefine themselves.
Date of Award09 Nov 2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University


  • multicultural communities
  • liberalism
  • diaspora

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