Developmental Multiculturalism In The East and Liberal Multiculturalism In The West?

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Nora KIM , University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA
While multiculturalism is losing its popularity among Western European countries, multiculturalism has gained popularity and continued to play an important role in East Asian countries. This paper examines the extent to which multiculturalism in the East (mainly South Korea and Taiwan) conform to and deviate from Western liberal multiculturalism. In this paper, I define and limit the discussion of multiculturalism as immigrant multiculturalism or a mode of immigrant incorporation. 

I argue that at the level of practices and policy instruments, Western multiculturalism and Eastern multiculturalism are similar; both segment and stratify immigrants on the basis of their willingness and ability to assimilate to a host country. But, at the level of discourse, Western and Eastern multiculturalism diverge. Western “liberal” multiculturalism treats tolerance a property of liberal West and construes the immigrant others “illiberal, object of tolerance”. On the contrary, Eastern multiculturalism presents multicultural tolerance as a necessity for their countries to become advanced liberal democracy. For this reason, I call multiculturalism in the East “developmental multiculturalism”. The key difference in the Western liberal multiculturalism and Eastern developmental multiculturalism centers on who has the responsibility to learn the value of tolerance. In the West, it is the immigrant minorities; while in the East, it is the non-immigrant majorities.

The difference in Western liberal multiculturalism and Eastern developmental multiculturalism may suggest one possible reason why the popularity of multiculturalism has declined in the West while it is still in vogue in the East. In the West, multiculturalism is constructed in a way that its failure is blamed on immigrant minorities. In Eastern developmental multiculturalism, multicultural tolerance is constructed as a virtue of advanced, more developed [Western] countries and achieving multicultural tolerance is the role of non-immigrant majorities for their country to become more like the developed countries.