Saturday, August 7, 2010

Post-nationalism - an anti-thesis to multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism features heavily in the repertoire of anthropologists. Its effects are implicated through multiple uses of the word and the inherent definition it ushers in. To channel the meaning of multiculturalism, one should not restrict the term ‘multiculturalism’ to its demographic usage (the existence of an ethnically diverse population of a society or state) or to the political reference it alludes to (referring to specific types of programmes and policy initiatives designed to respond to ethnic diversity). (Dijkstra S., et al. 2001: 55) Instead, by considering multiculturalism in light of ideological-normative meanings such as “...a slogan and model for political action emphasising that acknowledging the existence of ethnic diversity and ensuring the rights of individuals to retain their culture should go hand in hand with...constitutional principles and commonly shared values prevailing in the society.” (Inglis as cited in Dijkstra S., et al. 2001: 56)
Firstly, multiculturalism is inextricably linked with global and local processes. This essay aims to discuss the consequences multiculturalism carries for the local level in the form of citizenship and the global nation-state, both with respect to and to that of cultural identity. Post-national citizenship will be explored as a possible anti-thesis to the multiculturalism with emphasis on the simultaneous processes of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation involved with the decline of multiculturalism. A vivid example of the decline of multiculturalism in the face of post-national identity is evident in the European Union and the dissolution of national borders both as physical restraints in regards to people’s ability to cross them as well as the metaphorical borders of identity and citizenship.
Inda and Rosaldo present a case for the deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation of culture early in their argument for the effect of globalised multiculturalism on world cultures. The definition of deterritorialisation is given by Inda and Rosaldo as;
“[A] term [which] captures at once the lifting of cultural subjects and objects from fixed
spatial locations...”

The lesser known term ‘reterritorialisation’, is also defined within the same sentence as;
                “[And] their relocation in new cultural settings.” (Inda and Rosaldo 2008:14)
Stressing that the two processes do not follow each other in cyclic fashion, Inda and Rosaldo make it clear that deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation are simultaneously linked and inevitably reliant on each other for the total effect of globalised multiculturalism to be complete and stable.
To consider the practical application of these processes, one must comprehend how society is constructed with a multitude of social links between human elements which differ from each another. Each of these links contributes histories, routines, customs, cultural expectations and specific attributes to the overall society. Though these links are intertwined and generally dependent on each other for their co-ordinated existence, such a dependency which is centred on difference does not automatically lead to a bond between different social patterns let alone separate ethnic identities. Nation-state mechanisms including education, public administration, law and defence departments make up the social diversity of these cultures. The emergence of multicultural nation-states coincided with efforts to increase cultural identity to achieve broader international expertise. Introducing the post-national identity deconstructs the native social identity but retains the cultural diversity of post-national states – or does it?
Firstly, one should consider the manner in which the ‘culture’ of multiculturalism has been deterritorialised and thereby no longer attached to a particular terrain; especially in that it is not a passive process. The momentum required to deterritorialise an indigenous culture thereby allowing the reinscription (Inda and Rosaldo 2008:14) of another is usually dramatic and at times can be violent. Cultural deterritorialisation is not an ‘ethereal’ transition (Inda and Rosaldo 2008:14), meaning that culture simply does not float from a ‘cultured place’ to an empty space to ‘cultural-ise’ that space.
This is regarded by Inda and Rosaldo as being a pivotal point to understanding the paradigm of culture and the place it occupies in regards to the effects that multiculturalisation (a process as opposed to multiculturalism which alludes to a policy of favourable inter-ethnic affairs) has on the culture it encroaches upon.
Reterritorialisation on the other hand is not a case of an empty space being re-filled by a cultural entity, but rather it is the instantaneous result of deterritorialisation. In other words, as a culture is displaced its existence is not nullified or made redundant but rather it survives in some capacity within the original spatial confines of its native source, and even outside these confines through cultural flows and exchanges. Reinscription is what allows cross-cultural contact and is an anti-thesis to the idea of homogenous multiculturalism or any form of uniformity found after the permeation of a culture by globalising forces. If we consider the effects of cultural deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, how can one position the remaining identity of a de/reterritorialised people if their place is constantly shifted, re-arranged, erased and re-drawn?
We turn to a relatively recent rendition of a post-national condition; an entity such as this has been capable of binding peoples of different races, traditions and customs with each other both at the local and international stages. The European Union is faced with a dilemma of identity. A problem it encounters year after year as more European countries apply to join the union and thus conflate the already vague notion of self-identity the European Union has of itself (Liebert U., 2005:94). On its Eastern margins, the European Union is required to adjust fledgling governments with their post imperial conflicts and instabilities – radiating results from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 
Confronted with Western European power shifts, the European Union is constantly expected to battle evolving from a hegemonic European conglomerate into an imperial actor with little sensitivity to the individual interests and ideas of its European members.
 A porous relationship between transatlantic allies such as the European Union and the United States magnifies new tensions as the European Union struggles to redefine itself in the post-communist era; this will be discussed in depth later in the essay. Policies of multiculturalism which are direct reactions to migratory globalisation lead many people to revert to what they consider their own ethnic identity; invoking traditions and a history which they sometimes manipulate to promote cultural group interests. In other words, increasing policies of multiculturalism foster favourable conditions for ethno-social fragmentation – this allows for multiple cultures to co-exist but is not evidence of underlying multiculturalism. In the European Union’s case, post-national citizenship is no longer a futuristic goal but has rather become the normative for almost half a billion union citizens.  Sharing the same indigo hue on their passports and yet continue to differ in their nationalities. (Maastricht Treaty as cited in Liebert U., 2005:95)
Deflem and Pampel were almost prophesising the current division of identity experienced within the European Union;
“...(the) realisation of Europe's unification may create an unprecedented challenge, for citizens and scholars of Europe alike, to make sense of an expression that hitherto referred to a continent composed of nation-states that were geographically, economically, and to some extent politically connected but nonetheless sovereign.” (Deflem M. and Pampel F. C., 1996:119)
If one considers European integration (as a prodigy of post-national discourse), it is evident that the process is highly formulated and unnatural. Post-nationalism is a phenomenon observable with the formation of the ‘Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (TEU) whereby European heads of state and government officials formally signed off to transform the Union of states into a Union of citizens and states; this was achieved by utilising a charter of fundamental rights as an expanded legal basis of citizenship.

On one hand, re-appropriation of the European image is hampered by contending forces ranging from attempted European homogeneity to an ethnic unity through cultural diversity. On the other hand, the construction of a European citizenship faces immense local challenges if it aims at a post-national citizenship. As a result of the interaction between local and global elements and mechanisms, new multiple and varying identities of citizenship emerge. These identities are no longer confined to a specific area as they have been deterritorialised reterritorialised in the guise of a European ‘union’. Consequently, transformation of the nation-state occurs with the gradual dissolution of territory, culture, and identity – thereby the nation-state loses its “naturalness” (Dijkstra S., et al. 2001: 61) as it becomes a constructed, socially generated and politically enforced cosmopolitan citizenship.
Cosmopolitan European citizenship is conceived as an alternative to traditional national citizenship and European nationalism (both having inherent inequalities) and more so as a bastion for multicultural discourse. In this vantage, the novelty of "citizenship in the Union" is its commitment to acknowledging the diversity of national citizenship identities while promoting universal rights, including gender equality, non-discrimination, social inclusion and economic development. (Liebert U., 2005:103).  Special focus on minority and marginalized groups aims at a new form of multi-layered, borderless membership.

“Yet, the cosmopolitan vision of a European citizenship lacks a deeper reflection on Europe's position in a world of porous regions and its special transatlantic relationship.” (Liebert U., 2005:103)

The notable irony of the European Union (whereby its inception was hailed as a possible solution for inter-European conflict) versus its need for unique identification renders its existence almost self-faulting as it incites differences of identity as its members grapple to maintain cultural autonomy.

As previously mentioned, the relationship between Europe (in its Western power formation – England, France and Germany) and the United States has been variable and often masked in intense political and bureaucratic jargon. This lack of clarity between the two contemporary heavy-weights of the international stage is further compounded with the formation of the European Union. Whereas the United States had formerly dealt and maintained diplomatic relations with the European states on an individual basis, the existence of the European Union renders a further dimension to this relationship than what had previously occurred.

Any European multicultural discourse is counter-balanced with the transatlantic multiethnic position. Exemplifying this contrast in multi-national approach between the transatlantic behemoths is how they maintain their Muslim populations. Beyer (1999) observes Muslim migrants to Europe and North America as an example of region’s adaptability in that individuals of such a religious congregation will take up multifunctional roles differing immensely from the institution’s manifestation found where it originates. Such a phenomenon is not entirely due to how the individual operates within their newfound homeland but rather their capabilities are channelled by the policies and attitudes to citizens of multicultural heritage by the country they dwell in.

When comparing the United States and the European Union, (as representative of the transatlantic partner for the US) it is evident that multiculturalism in the former is still in operation – albeit dysfunctional whilst the latter has developed a policy of post-nationalism as the ultimate tool by which it can eliminate conflicts. Liebert (2005:104) supports this argument;

“ introducing monetary union and Union citizenship, the EU has ventured "into a new political frontier, with far-reaching consequences for the future of the human race.”

Regarding its position on the world stage, the weakness of the European Union is based on naked power. This mainly refers to the global community being made aware of the silent, though greatly strengthened European presence, be it military or otherwise. Though it is not likely to venture into all parts of the world for expansionary purposes, the deployment of all its civilian resources to effectively secure European political values, such as rationality, justice, democracy, individual freedom, secularism, and tolerance are seen to be just as menacing. (Liebert U., 2005:95) We finally arrive at the catalyst for a global socio-cultural shift. On one hand we have the United States with its entire ‘Americana’ repertoire and respective connotations representing the final stages of multicultural cosmopolitanism, whilst on the other hand the European Union is on the avant-garde as it were regarding post-national citizenship and intended ‘unity through diversity’. Without entering into an in-depth comparison, it suffices to say that the aforementioned approaches will indirectly clash as their respective citizens are expected to deal with the other.
A critical dialogue is necessary for reflecting upon the comparative vices and virtues of the differing but inextricably linked European and American representations of post-nationalism and multiculturalism respectively. The values, identities, and practices of both will be tested over the coming decades as the European Union faces economic strife while the ethnic minorities in the United States wrestle strongholds from previously traditional hands. In a post-national context where political, ideological, religious or cultural trends that originally appear to be connected with a specific region, culture or period are being echoed in larger parts of the European Union – multiculturalism stands little chance of survival.

Reference List
Deflem M. and Pampel F. C. The Myth of Post national Identity: Popular Support for European Unification. Social Forces, Vol. 75, No. 1 (1996) University of North Carolina Press
Dijkstra S., Geuijen K., & de Ruijter A. Multiculturalism and Social Integration in Europe. International Political Science Review / Revue Internationale de science politique, Vol. 22, No. 1, Management of Social Transformations. Gestion des transformations sociales (2001) Sage Publications
Inda J. X. and Rosaldo R. Tracking Global Flows. The Anthropology of Globalisation (2008) Blackwell Publishers
Liebert U. What It Means to Be (come) a Transatlantic Citizen: Rethinking Postnational Citizenship. New German Critique, No. 95, (2005) New German Critique

Further Reading
Arce A. and Long N., Anthropology, Development and Modernities: Exploring discourses, counter-tendencies and violence. (2000) Routledge: London
Hoerder D. Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium (2002) Duke University Press: London

As written for ANTH223 - Semester One 2010 - Macquarie University, Sydney

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