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Indigenous Peoples on Multiculturalism - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 258
Multicuturalism/Indigenous peoples/Kukathas: Generally, multiculturalism is assumed to speak not
only for the interests of immigrant cultural minorities but also for the aboriginal peoples who are minorities in modern states. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, no less than
Fiji, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and most of South and Central America, are home to peoples whose
ancestry may be traced back to premodern times, and their interests are sometimes thought to be
addressed by the development of the institutions of a multicultural society.
Indigenous peoples VsMulticulturalism: Yet for many indigenous peoples multiculturalism is less than welcome, for its implication is the further marginalization of their communities and culture in a modern state more attuned to the needs of migrants than to those of aborigines.
Kymlicka’s theory: The recognition of this issue has shaped the development of Kymlicka's theory, which is particularly aware of the distinctive concerns of indigenous peoples. His model of group-differentiated rights deliberately makes space for national minorities, as distinct from polyethnic groups. >Minorities/Kymlicka, >Diversity/Multiculturalism, >Minority rights/Kymlicka.
Kukathas: Whether or not Kymlicka's theory is defensible, however, aboriginal groups around the world have pressed the case for the rights of indigenous minorities. (For a sceptical assessment of the notion of indigenous rights see Mulgan, 1989a(1). Mulgan, 1989b(2) also suggests that, in the case of New Zealand, the land is occupied by two indigenous peoples: the Maori and Pakeha, or descendants of white settlers.)
Moreover, many indigenous groups have insisted that, unlike immigrant peoples, what they need is not only recognition of their independent status but also rectification for past injustice.
Indigenous rights/society/incorporation: Extended treatments of the problem of incorpo-
rating aboriginal peoples into modern liberal democratic society, in a way that respects the integrity of aboriginal traditions, have been offered by Tully (1995)(3) and, more recently, Ivison (2002)(4). Both suggest that a viable liberal order requires the establishment of a constitutional modus vivendi that incorporates recognition of aboriginal custom and culture. However, as Ivison argues, mere incorporation of indigenous law may not be enough given that circumstances vary and both society and indigenous societies are themselves changing (2002(4) 141-62).
Rectification: the problem of rectification for past injustice, however, remains a serious difficulty, particularly when the effluxion of time has made the matter of ascribing to present generations responsibility for past injustice a difficult one, morally, legally, and politically.
Waldron: Jeremy Waldron (1992)(5), for one, has suggested that public policy should focus on future welfare rather than past injustice if the aim is to do justice to the concerns of aboriginal people (see also Sher, 1981(6); Goodin, 2001(7)).
Though others have offered theories of rectification that might do justice to the demands of aboriginal peoples (Kukathas, 2003a(8); Hill, 2002(9)), it seems unlikely that those demands will ever be met philosophically,(...).


1. Mulgan, Richard (1989a) 'Should indigenous peoples have special rights?' Orbis, 33 (3): 375—88.
2. Mulgan, Richard ( 1989b) Maori, Pakeha and Democracy.
Auckland: Oxford University Press. 3. Tully, James (1995) Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
4. Ivison, Duncan (2002) Postcolonial Liberalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5. Waldron, Jeremy (1992) 'Superseding historic injustice'. Ethics, 103: 4-28.
6. Sher, George (1981) 'Ancient wrongs and modern rights'. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 10 (1): 3-17.
7. Goodin, Robert E. (2001) 'Waitangi tales'. Australasian Journal ofPhi10sophy, 78 (3): 309-33.
8. Kukathas, Chandran (2003a) 'Responsibility for past injustice: how to shift the burden'. Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 2 (2): 165-88.
9. Hill, Renée A. (2002) 'Compensatory Justice: Over Time and Between Groups'. Journal of Political Philosophy, 10 392-415.


Kukathas, Chandran 2004. „Nationalism and Multiculturalism“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Indigenous Peoples
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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