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Ethnicities and Global Multiculture. Pants for an Octopus

By Jan Nederveen Pieterse
Boulder, Colorado, USA, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007, 254 pages, ISBN 0-7425-4064-2 / 978-0-7425-4064-4, ISBN 0-7425-4063-4 / 978-0-7425-4063-7

Arguing that ethnicity and multiculturalism are essential for understanding globalization, author Jan Nederveen Pieterse offers one of the first sustained treatments of the reach of these key forces, beyond a limited national context.

He shows that multiethnicity, preceded the nation-state by millennia; but argues that states, feeling the threat to their national identities, seek to control or suppress it. Contemporary multiculturalism, another attempt to regulate multiethnicity, is a work in progress in which dramas of global inequality are played out.

This groundbreaking book adopts a kaleidoscopic and comparative-historical perspective that intertwines strands of social science and western and non-western research as a strategy to overcome the disciplinary and regional fragmentation of most discussions. Moving beyond worn notions of ethnicity and multiculturalism, Nederveen Pieterse proposes ethnicities and global multiculture as alternative, wide-angle perspectives on cultural diversity. Global multiculture, he convincingly demonstrates, offers a fresh account of layered cultural dynamics amid accelerated globalization.

Jan Nederveen Pieterse is professor of sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.