The right to the city: redefining multiculturalism in the modern global.




Furtado, Robert

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Global capital is transforming the spaces in which we live, thereby transforming culture: this thesis challenges a set of liberal assumptions about culture and cultural transformation by elaborating upon this very hypothesis. Specifically, it argues that cultural identities are being formed in global cities, where disjunctive global flows of cultural, financial, technological, ideological, and human capital intersect. These global flows are creating cultural contexts of choice that can be as central to individual and group identities as national institutions or inherited or native cultural norms. And as these modern contexts of choice emancipate the imagination from the influence of national institutions, they enable peculiar new forms of agency. I use Arjun Appadurai’s notion of imagination and his model of “scapes”—cultural landscapes formed by intersecting flows of capital—to explain how the global is becoming the decisive framework for social life. In contrast, I use Will Kymlicka’s model of multicultural citizenship and Jeremy Waldron’s model of cosmopolitanism primarily to demonstrate the limits of a class of liberal theories of cultural accommodation that oversimplify the relationship of the individual to culture, and of culture to modernity, and which ignore the role of “scapes” in constituting cultural identities. To conclude, I propose an alternative, three- dimensional and ultimately non-comparative treatment of culture inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the right to the city.



multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, globalization, the right to the city, Henri Lefebvre, minority rights, group rights, Will Kymlicka, immigration, national minorities, global cities, David Harvey, Arjun Appadurai