November 2023

By Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley

In the book The crises of multiculturalism : racism in a neoliberal age the authors Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley discuss how multiculturalism is said to have failed or the problems of multiculturalism is the cause for uncertainties and violence within Europe. The authors continue by arguing how the term multiculturalism has almost come to replace racism, or desires to replace racism in a neoliberal era, which is not only dangerous but also silences real experiences and people’s voices. Alana and Gavan therefore argues that the usage of multiculturalism instead of racism has contributed to the idea of looking for an scapegoat instead of reflecting within the institutions and solving structural obstacles.


Some of the issues the authors address are how discussions on multiculturalism use a certain language that supports the idea of how it would be the core problem for European societies. In other words, these discussions and language used denies race and racism, talks about “certain people’s incapability” to integrate to Western societies and how tolerance has reached it’s limit along with how nations need to snap back before “Europeans” loose their cultural identity.  In other words, it is about who can belong and who is disrupting the Western ideology. To further understand how in practice the restriction of certain people’s identity to belong within Europe is upheld, can be understood in the preface written by Gavan. He argues that:

“For certain groups the price for belonging and conditions for banishment have shifted dramatically in Western nations, particularly but by no means exclusively in Europe, in recent years. Citizenship is no longer enough. The clothes you wear, the language you speak, the way you worship, have all become grounds for dismissal or inclusion. These terms are not only not applied equally to all, they are not even intended to be. In a series of edicts, popular, political and judicial, their intention is not to erase all differences but act as a filter for certain people who are considered dangerously different.”
(Lentin &Titley 2011: vi)
In other words, there is an assumption for who can belong within the European society, which is not enforced by the passport one holds, but rather via the cultural and societal practices one adhere to. To emphasize further on how this is seen in European societies today, Alana and Gavan discuss the policing of the veil, the treatment of immigrants and how they are seen as a threat to safety, especially after 9/11. The authors also discuss the rise of the discourse regarding “identity liberalism” and what good vs. bad diversity entails within certain institutes.
Dr Alana Lentin is Professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism.
Gavan Titley is Professor in the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University, since 2005. He’s research interests include ideas and understandings of freedom of speech in a context of democratic crisis and communicative abundance. 
“This book provides a rich and scholarly analysis of the multiple forces at play in the construction of the “death of multiculturalism” as a flexible and potent political discourse. Incisive and provocative in it’s analysis; it is uncomfortable reading for those on both the left and right in politics. This is necessary reading for anyone concerned with the complex masking of racism within the rhetorical dance of national identities and globalized neo-liberal ideologies.” ―Charles Husband, Centre for Applied Social Research, University of Bradford
“Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley offer a powerful and persuasive account of how multiculturalism has been sentenced to death. Drawing on a vast array of sources, voices and examples, they show how laments on the failure of multiculturalism create a political and affective landscape in which racism is simultaneously repudiated and reproduced. A necessary and important book.” ―Sara Ahmed, Professor of Race and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College