John Clayton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Multiculturalism is the subject of multiple geographical interpretations. It is first identified as a way of describing the very condition of diversity evident through various spatial formations. In particular, multiculturalism refers to the existence of difference and uneven power relations among populations in terms of racial, ethnic, religious, geographical distinctions and other cultural markers that deviate from dominant, often racialized, “norms.” Based upon an acknowledgment of diversity, multiculturalism also refers to formal recognition and incorporation of those defined by such differences through policies and discourses that acknowledge the rights and needs of minoritized groups within the public realm, but which also control the terms of such integration. While the picture is complex and uneven based upon distinctive histories, many nation-states, particularly in the Global North have recently witnessed a discursive and policy shift from multiculturalism to forms of cultural assimilation. This shift has called into question the limits of multicultural acceptance in the context of neoliberal globalization and postcolonialism; the manner in which certain kinds of diversity should be, or can be, managed; how this management may relate to antiracism and social justice; and the relationship between individual and group-based rights. With this in mind, geographers have also more recently begun to think about multiculturalism as a phenomena beyond formal efforts to define and incorporate difference, drawing attention to the manner in which the boundaries of intersectional identities are encountered, reinforced, but also renegotiated through everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780081022955
ISBN (Print)9780081022962
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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