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Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

Multination States: East and West


2010BertrandLaliberte.jpgMulti-Nation States in Asia: Accommodation or Resistance 
April 2010 - Edited by Jacques Bertrand (University of Toronto) and Andre Laliberte (University of Ottawa)
Cambridge University Press

Multination States: East and West
September 21 - 22, 2007
University of Toronto

  • Co-organizers:
    • Jacques Bertrand (University of Toronto)
    • André Laliberté (UQAM)

A gap appears to be opening between the implementation of diversity in certain regions and a growing international discourse on multination states, with an emphasis on the recognition of diversity. In advanced industrialized countries of North America and Europe, struggles for recognition as ‘nations’, and democratic institutions to accommodate multiple nations within states, has transformed traditional conceptions of the nation-state. By contrast, in Asia the notion of the unitary nation-state continues to dominate, despite growing pressures to recognize multinationality and diversity. In Europe and North America, the fact of multination states is acknowledged by adopting constitutional and institutional modifications recognizing and empowering national minorities. Furthermore, policies and discourses are aimed at accommodating national minorities even when formal recognition is rejected. In Asia, however, where recognition has been granted, it has often been merely symbolic; where institutions appear to accommodate diversity, they are often accompanied by policies or other institutions that undermine diversity. Asian leaders have repeatedly attempted to reassert the primacy of the unitary nation-state and restrict the accommodation of cultural diversity.

The workshop contrasted Asian cases with the dominant trend of the European/North American context by asking: what have been the main pressures leading to more recognition of multinational diversity in Europe/North America? What are the pressures for such recognition and accommodation in Asia? Why have these pressures led instead to resistance in Asia, and a reassertion of the nation-state? What are the consequences of adopting certain institutions recognizing diversity in Asian cases, yet underming these through other policies and practices? The workshop, held at the Munk Centre for International Studies (University of Toronto) in the Fall of 2007 explored these questions through empirical and normative dimensions.

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