Multiculturalism or Hybridisation? Cultural Mixing and Politics

by Paolo Gomarasca (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan)

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The aim of this article is to analyse the recent debate on the end of multiculturalism. It has become a commonplace to say that multiculturalism has failed because of its presumed differentialism, i.e. its tendency to conceive different cultures as cognitive islands. The competing model is characterised by an intercultural approach. The article firstly intends to demonstrate that this is a false alternative within limits. Contrary to popular caricature, one version of multiculturalism is in fact attuned to the emphasis on cultural exchanges and connections. The problem is that the differentialist version has become the standard version of multiculturalism. That is why the article further argues for the importance of the concept of hybridisation as a way of moving beyond the controversy over multiculturalism’s supposed failures. Hybridisation suggests one aspect which can be considered relevant: Cultures are originally and intrinsically intertwined. Finally, the article investigates the political implication of this concept of culture and tries to justify the request that cultural mixing processes should be channelled within the political framework of democracy, especially at the level of civil society.

Keywords: multiculturalism, hybridisation, cultural mixing, civil society

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Gomarasca, P. (2013). Multiculturalism or Hybridisation? Cultural Mixing and Politics. Diversities, 15(2), 67-80. Retrieved [todaysdate] from
16-01_CoverDiversities • Volume 15, No. 2, 2013
Diversity and Small Town Spaces: Twenty Years into Post-Apartheid South African Democracy
Guest Editors: Richard Ballard and Melissa Steyn
ISSN-Print 2199-8108
ISSN-Internet 2199-8116