For those interested in continuing the struggle for decolonization, the word “multiculturalism” can seem like a sad joke. After all, institutionalized multiculturalism today is a muck of buzzwords, branding strategies, and virtue signaling that has nothing to do with real struggles against racism and colonialism. But Decolonize Multiculturalism unearths a buried history.
The book focuses on the student and youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by global movements for decolonization and anti-racism, which aimed to fundamentally transform their society, as well as the fierce repression of these movements by the state, corporations, and university administrations. Part of the response has been sheer violence—campus policing, for example, only began in the ’70s, paving the way for the militarized campuses of today—with institutionalized multiculturalism acting like the velvet glove around the iron fist of state violence.
And yet today’s multiculturalism also contains residues of the original radical demands of the student and youth movements that it aims to repress: to open up the university, to wrench it from its settler colonial, white supremacist, and patriarchal capitalist origins, and to transform it into a place of radical democratic possibility.
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