Democracy and Human Rights in Multicultural Societies: Contemporary Dilemmas

Neus Torbisco-Casals

MINT098 | Autumn | 6 ECTS

Democracy and Human Rights in Multicultural Societies: Contemporary Dilemmas

This course aims at introducing students to the multiple dilemmas of human rights and democratic governance in multicultural societies. Cultural and identity claims raised by immigrant communities, indigenous peoples, and linguistic and religious minorities, have been for long the focus of major political and legal controversies. Today, accommodating diversity remains a challenge, both nationally and internationally, as there is great contestation on the justification and relative success of different models and practices. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, the aim of this course is to explore different approaches to the governance of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-faith societies, as well as their key issues and challenges. With a primary focus on the politics of immigration, religion and culture both in Western Europe and North America, we will explore and compare the philosophies that have shaped contemporary integration regimes and policies, reflect on the contested relation between cultural rights and human rights, and study the impact of multicultural approaches on women’s rights, through exploring issues such as arranged marriages or the Muslim headscarf.

Students will acquire a deeper understanding of the philosophies that inform immigration and integration policies, as well as the challenges of applying human rights in a culturally diverse world. The readings consist of materials drawn from several disciplines, primarily human rights and democratic theory, cultural and ethnic studies, sociology and political science studies.