Will Kymlicka

Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship

Romanian, Chinese, Korean Spanish, Japanese.

This volume brings together eighteen of Will Kymlicka's recent essays on nationalism, multiculturalism and citizenship. These essays expand on the well-known theory of minority rights first developed in his Multicultural Citizenship. In these new essays, Kymlicka applies his theory to several pressing controversies regarding ethnic relations today, responds to some of his critics, and situates the debate over minority rights within the larger context of issues of nationalism, democratic citizenship and globalization. The essays are divided into four sections. The first section summarizes 'the state of the debate' over minority rights, and explains how the debate has evolved over the past 15 years. The second section explores the requirements of ethnocultural justice in a liberal democracy. Kymlicka argues that the protection of individual human rights is insufficient to ensure justice between ethnocultural groups, and that minority rights must supplement human rights. In particular, Kymlicka explores why some form of power-sharing (such as federalism) is often required to ensure justice for national minorities; why indigenous peoples have distinctive rights relating to economic development and environmental protection; and why we need to define fairer terms of integration for immigrants. The third section focuses on nationalism.

...essential reading for anyone interested in the minority rights debate...

Derek Bell, Democratization

Kymlicka discusses some of the familiar misinterpretations and preconceptions which liberals have about nationalism, and defends the need to recognize that there are genuinely liberal forms of nationalism. He discusses the familiar (but misleading) contrast between 'cosmopolitanism' and 'nationalism', and discusses why liberals have gradually moved towards a position that combines elements of both. The final section explores how these increasing demands by ethnic and national groups for minority rights affect the practice of democratic citizenship. Kymlicka surveys recent theories of citizenship, and raises questions about how they are challenged by ethnocultural diversity. He emphasizes the importance of education as a site of conflict between demands for accommodating ethnocultural diversity and demands for promoting the common virtues and loyalties required by democratic citizenship. And, finally, he explores the extent to which 'globalization' requires us to think about citizenship in more global terms, or whether citizenship will remain tied to national institutions and political processes. Taken together, these essays make a major contribution to enriching our understanding of the theory and practice of ethnocultural relations in Western democracies.

Few theorists redefine their field of knowledge. Will Kymlicka belongs to this very short and dignified list.

Yael Tamir, Ethics

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Part A. The Evolution of the Minority Rights Debate
    1. The New Debate over Minority Rights
    2. Liberal Culturalism: An Emerging Consensus?
    3. Do We Need a Liberal Theory of Minority Rights? Reply to Carens, Young, Parekh and Forst
  • Part B. Ethnocultural Justice
    1. Human Rights and Ethnocultural Justice
    2. Minority Nationalism and Multination Federalism
    3. Theorizing Indigenous Rights
    4. Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice
    5. The Theory and Practice of Immigrant Multiculturalism
    6. A Crossroad in Race Relations
  • Part C. Misunderstanding Nationalism
    1. From Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism to Liberal Nationalism
    2. Cosmopolitanism, Nation-States and Minority Nationalism
    3. Misunderstanding Nationalism
    4. The Paradox of Liberal Nationalism
    5. American Multiculturalism in the International Arena
    6. Minority Nationalism and Immigrant Integration
  • Part D: Democratic Citizenship in Multiethnic States
    1. Education for Citizenship
    2. Citizenship in an Era of Globalization: Commentary on Held
    3. Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?


  • Chapter 1, "The New Debate over Minority Rights" appeared in Wayne Norman and Ronald Beiner (eds.) Canadian Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, Toronto, 2000) pp. 159-76. It draws upon "An Update from the Multiculturalism Wars: Commentary on Shachar and Spinner-Halev", in Christian Joppke and Steven Lukes (eds.) Multicultural Questions (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 112-29.
  • Chapter 2, "Do We Need a Liberal Theory of Minority Rights? Reply to Carens, Young, Parekh and Forst", was published in Constellations, Vol. 4/1, 1997, pp. 72-87.
  • Chapter 3, "Liberal Culturalism: An Emerging Consensus?" was published as the introduction to a special issue of Ethical Theory and Moral Practice on "Nationalism, Multiculturalism and Liberal Democracy", Vol. 1/2 (1998), pp. 143-57.
  • Chapter 4, "Human Rights and Ethnocultural Justice" was presented as the Sixth J.C. Rees Memorial Lecture at the University of Wales, Swansea, and published in Review of Constitutional Studies, Vol. 4/2 (1998), pp. 213-38.
  • Chapter 5, "Minority Nationalism and Multination Federalism", is a substantially revised version of paper which was originally published in Spanish as "Federalismo, Nacionalismo y Multiculturalismo", Revista Internacional de Filosofia Politica, Vol. 7, 1996, pp. 20-54, and reprinted in English as "Is Federalism an Alternative to Secession?", in Percy Lehning (ed.) Theories of Secession (Routledge, 1998), pp. 111-50.
  • Chapter 6, "Theorizing Indigenous Rights" appeared in University of Toronto Law Journal, Vol. 49, 1999, pp. 281-293.
  • Chapter 7, "Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice" was originally published as "Concepts of Community and Social Justice", in Fen Hampson and Judith Reppy (eds.) Earthly Goods: Environmental Change and Social Justice (Cornell University Press, 1996) pp. 30-51.
  • Chapter 8, "The Theory and Practice of Immigrant Multiculturalism" is adapted from two separate papers: "Ethnic Associations and Democratic Citizenship", in Amy Gutmann (ed.) Freedom of Association (Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 177-213, and "Teoria si Practica Multiculturalismului Canadian", Altera (Romania) Vol. 12 (1999), pp. 48-67.
  • Chapter 9, "A Crossroad in Race Relations" originally appeared as Chapter 5 in my Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada (Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Chapter 10, "From Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism to Liberal Nationalism" was written for, and will appear in Steven Lukes (ed.) The Enlightenment: Then and Now (Verso). It has been translated into Romanian as "De la cosmopolitismul luminilor la nationalismul liberal", A Treia Europa, Vol. 2 (1998), pp. 439-451; in Catalan as "Del Cosmopolitisme illustrat al nacionalisme liberal" in Idees: Revista de temes contemporanis, Vol. 2 (1999), pp. 26-45; and in Dutch in Ethiek en Maatschappij (2000).
  • Chapter 11, "Cosmopolitanism, Nation-States and Minority Nationalism: A Critical Review of Recent Literature" is a revised version of a paper which was published in European Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 7/1 (1999), pp. 65-88 [co-authored with Christine Strahle].
  • Chapter 12. "Misunderstanding Nationalism" originally appeared in Dissent, Winter 1995, pp. 130- 7,. It has been reprinted in Ronald Beiner (ed.) Theorizing Nationalism (SUNY Press, 1999), pp. 131- 40; and translated into Catalan as "El nacionalisme mal entès", El Contemporani, Vol. 10 (1996), pp. 39-45. It also draws upon "Modernity and Minority Nationalism: Commentary on Thomas Franck", published in Ethics and International Affairs, Vol. 11, 1997, pp. 171-76.
  • Chapter 13, "The Paradox of Liberal Nationalism" was published in Literary Review of Canada, Vol. 4/10, November 1995, pp. 13-15.
  • Chapter 14, "American Multiculturalism in the International Arena" was originally published in Dissent, Fall 1998, pp. 73-79. It is reprinted in German in Will Kymlicka, Multikulturalismus und Demokratie: Uber Minderheiten in Staaten und Nationen (Rotbuch Verlag, Hamburg, 1999), pp. 84- 102.
  • Chapter 15, "Minority Nationalism and Immigrant Integration" appeared in, John McGarry and Michael Keating (eds.) Minority Nationalism and the Changing International Order (Oxford University Press, 2001) pp. 61-83.
  • Chapter 16. "Education for Citizenship" was originally published in Mark Halstead and Terence McLaughlin (eds.) Education in Morality (Routledge, 1999), pp. 79-102. It is reprinted in The School Field (Slovenia), Vol. 10/1, 1999.
  • Chapter 17, "Citizenship in an Era of Globalization: Commentary on Held" is a revised version of paper published in Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon (eds.) Democracy's Edges (Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 112-26. It also draws upon "The Prospects for Citizenship: Domestic and Global", published in Thomas Courchene (ed.) The Nation State in a Global/Information Era (John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy, Queen's University, 1997), pp. 315-25.
  • Chapter 18, "Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?" was published in Anita L. Allen, Milton C. Regan (eds.) Debating Democracy's Discontent: Essays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy(Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 131-48.