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Multicultural Immunisation

Liberalism and Esposito

Alexej Ulbricht

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A critical intervention in liberal theories of multiculturalism

Multiculturalism has recently been declared dead; at the same time, the value of diversity is still emphasised. How can we explain this? In this book, Alexej Ulbricht sets out to completely reassess liberal theories of multiculturalism, and argues that the ‘backlash’ is actually the strengthening of tendencies already present in liberal multiculturalism. Using the theories of Roberto Esposito, he argues that liberal multiculturalism is best understood as a series of immunitary processes. He examines some of these processes and looks to what cultural coexistence beyond immunity might be like.

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1 Introduction
The conflicted relationship to multiculturalism
Multicultural Immunisation
2 Liberal Thought on Multiculturalism
A brief history of liberal political theory’s engagement with difference
A tale of three liberals: Kymlicka, Parekh, Taylor
3 Multiculturalism as a Mode of Immunising the Body of Liberalism
Community, obligation and emptiness
The immunity paradigm
Immunity in the concrete: what it makes of people
4 Liberal Multiculturalism and Rights: citizens, humans and Other subjects
5 Disagreement and the Horizons of Consensus
Liberal models of consensus
The critique of consensus
Fusing of horizons
6 Recognition: tolerant and cunning
Recognition, or, the cunning cleansing of the wounded liberal subject
Liberal recognition as a form of tolerance
7 Multiculturalism Beyond Immunity
What must a multicultural polity do?
What about totality?
How to get there (with rhythm!)
Music and the city
8 Conclusion
Liberal multiculturalism as a process of immunisation
Syncopation in the concrete

About the Author

Alexej Ulbricht is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. His research is in issues of culture and critical theory.


Alexej Ulbricht has written a compelling account of contemporary immunity across a number of fields and disciplines, including the colonial and post-colonial as well as political theory. Using Roberto Esposito's reading of the paradigm of community and immunity as his launching pad, Ulbricht offers an accessible and dismaying glimpse into the immunized spaces of today, while courageously offering a possible riposte through rhythm. A courageous book that expands our understanding of the threats to vital communities today.

- Timothy C. Campbell, Professor of Italian, Cornell University

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