The workshop on multiculturalism started off by looking at a set of questions. The questions and the main points of the discussions that followed are outlined below. All discussions led to the same initiative which was to hold a conference on Multiculturalism, hosted by UCULeft, for further development of these ideas.
To carry on the discussion online, go to the UCU Left forum here.
What do we mean by multiculturalism and why is it under attack? How do we link the fight against racism with the fight against austerity?
The situation at London Met is the face of the attack on multiculturalism, and ‘Class’ is the link between racism and austerity.
Issues around conflating multi-culturalism with race.
Multi-culturalism versus mono-culturalism, recognising the steps forward that were gained, and that multiculturalism was won through struggle, not handed over.
Defending multi-culturalism against racist attacks while at the same time continuing the discussion on problems associated with the use of term ‘multi-culturalism’ and how it is interpreted. For example – how are sexism and Islamophobia are linked to multiculturalism?
Are we multi-cultural or trans-cultural?
How do we fight institutionalised racism within our colleges and universities?
There is a lack of academic input/ new books on multiculturalism and anti-racism. This vacuum created by a retraction from Marxist arguments and the post-modernism of the 80s and 90s.
A radicalising intellectual push is needed – discussion and critical theory brought together to write books/ papers and trigger discussion and action. eg – A Critical History of the Riots.
Go back to theory as vehicle for politics. Look back to 70s and 80s and methods used to fight racism, packs produced for schools and colleges, Paul Gilroy.
Not be defensive but go on forward foot and play a role in being a catalyst – What society do we want? How do we get there?
Connect multi-culturalism with liberation – we need to tease out an emancipatory vision.
What practical steps can practitioners take to ensure that multiculturalism is embedded in every course?
Use the London Met idea across unis/ colleges of welcome days and discussion on eg Why is Caribbean Studies closing?
Bring politics into lessons, materials and resources.
Anti-racism and multi-culturalism should not be a separate topic but must saturate everything we do.
Avoid tokenistic (management) approach to embedding – give space for arguments.
Areas in eg. HE/ ESOL where tutors are able to input into the curriculum can influence education via politics.
Organise meetings for teachers/ lecturers to discuss history, politics and education: Black history, immigration and ESOL, etc.
Unions must hold the line e.g. in the arguments that emerged amongst UCU activists around the NEC motion on Miliband’s immigration speech.