Development and Multiculturalism: Projects of Modernity or Postcolonial Predicament?

By:
Dr. Nabila Jaber
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Culture, as E. Said puts it: "often has to do with an aggressive sense of nation, home, community and belonging". Yet, however ‘deep’ culture is Western imagination sees that the culture of so-called Third World has much to gain through development and modernization. This project of ‘modernity’ can be seen in the deployment of multicultural practices in Western liberal democracies, and development policies in the East, known as the global South.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the power/knowledge dynamics involved in the making of ‘civilising’ work in projects of ‘modernity’. I examine how discourses of development and multiculturalism are being played out in the context of postcolonial spaces—Third World at ‘home’ and/or in diaspora. These spaces are analyzed by identifying which cultural references/narratives are privileged in negotiating terms of poverty, development, equality and human rights, and, their implications in shaping the cultural politics of representation, identity and positioning. The unpacking of (global) development agenda(s) and experiences of daily struggles of diaspora peoples/communities will be drawn from various ethnographic accounts concerning the making of “Third Worldism”.

The paper concludes that projects of ‘modernity', development and multiculturalism, represent two sides of the same coin: the 'traditional' White men’s burden of civilizing the cultural Other and a paternalist policy of benevolence. The conclusion raises issues of concern against the growing postcolonial disillusionment with development and multicultural policies and practices. I suggest a need to rethink the concepts of development, multiculturalism and modernity.


Keywords: Postcolonial predicament, Universalism and cultural relativism, Development/modernization, Multiculturalism, Third Wrold, Modernity and its cultural Other
Stream: Globalisation, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Nabila Jaber

Dr. Nabila Jaber (senior Lecturer), Sociology and Anthropology, Canterbury university, Christchurch
New Zealand

Teaching and research interests are in the areas of development, postcolonialism, gender and identity. A number of published articles are on Islam and gender; modernization, Sharia Laws and development, and postcolonial identities in diasporic existence. Currently Nabila is involved in writing a book on Postcolonialism and development.

Ref: H06P0298