Nations, Boundaries and Justice

Ethical Perspectives 12 (1):17-40 (2005)
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Will Kymlicka’s theory of minority rights has been most influential. Kymlicka distinguishes two types of ethnocultural minorities: national groups in a multinational state and ethnic groups in an immigrant society. This article focuses on the ‘multinational’ aspect of this paradigm. It investigates the extent to which Kymlicka’s justification of self-government rights for nations can offer a just guideline for the way in which we should accommodate cultural diversity generated by a plurality of national groups within one state. Should we regulate the cultural and linguistic market-place, and, if so, should we justify a right for all nations to a distinct societal culture with its own political and territorial boundaries?The answer the article develops is a moderate ‘yes, but’. We should recognize and protect cultural identities, since, as Kymlicka rightly argues, cultures provide us with constitutive contexts of choice.But there seems to be an inability in Kymlicka’s theory to deal with strongly multinational and multilingual situations. Kymlicka explicitly recognizes the fact that national cultures can be pluralistic , but he neglects diversity within the cultural structure itself. Nevertheless, our cultural world is full of such instances of vague boundaries, gray zones, minorities within minorities, bi-and multilingualism, etc.Consequently, the article attempts to supplement Kymlicka’s mosaic form of multiculturalism with a hybrid extension. It is highly commendable to recognize and protect cultures, provided we incorporate cultural hybridity into our multicultural theory



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