Will Kymlicka

Identity Politics in the Public Realm: Bringing Institutions Back In

Edited by Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka, UBC Press, 2011, 308 pp.

Eisenberg and Kymlicka have put together a collection that successfully brings together social scientists from different research backgrounds to offer an illuminating survey of the relationship between public institutions and identity politics. It is on this count that the book does an excellent job, and it should be consulted by normative theorists and other social scientists

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

In an age of multiculturalism and identity politics, many minority groups seek some form of official recognition or public accommodation of their identity. But can public institutions accurately recognize or accommodate something as subjective and dynamic as "identity?" Are there coherent standards and fair procedures for responding to identity claims? In this book, Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka lead a distinguished team of scholars who explore state responses to identity claims worldwide. Their case studies focus on key issues where identity is central to public policy -- such as the construction of census categories, interpretation of antidiscrimination norms, and assessment of indigenous rights -- and assess the influence of democratization on the capacity of institutions to respond to group claims. By illuminating both the risks and opportunities of institutional responses to diversity, this volume shows that public institutions can either enhance or distort the benefits of identity politics. Much depends on the agency of citizens and the ability of institutions to adapt to success and failure.

Table of Contents

  1. Bringing Institutions Back In: How Public Institutions Assess Identity / Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka
  2. The Challenge of Census Categorization in the Post--Civil Rights Era / Melissa Nobles
  3. Knowledge and the Politics of Ethnic Identity and Belonging in Colonial and Postcolonial States / Bruce J. Berman
  4. Defining Indigeneity: Representation and the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997 in the Philippines / Villia Jefremovas and Padmapani L. Perez
  5. Indigenous Rights in Latin America: How to Classify Afro-Descendants? / Juliet Hooker
  6. Domestic and International Norms for Assessing Indigenous Identity / Avigail Eisenberg
  7. The Challenge of Naming the Other in Latin America / Victor Armony
  8. From Immigrants to Muslims: Shifting Categories of the French Model of Integration / Eléonore Lépinard
  9. Beliefs and Religion: Categorizing Cultural Distinctions among East Asians / André Laliberté
  10. Assessing Religious Identity in Law: Sincerity, Accommodation, and Harm / Lori G. Beaman
  11. Reasonable Accommodations and the Subjective Conception of Freedom of Conscience and Religion / Jocelyn Maclure