Official multiculturalism, established as Canadian government policy in 1971, has drawn criticism from many scholars and journalists who view it as a potential threat to a strong, unified Canadian society. In this timely and original book, Phil Ryan examines the emergence and influence of these criticisms, which continue to provoke an anxiety he calls "multicultiphobia." Although Ryan argues that multicultiphobic discourse is often marred by important errors of fact and interpretation, a systematic inspection of news coverage and parliamentary debates reveals the persistent influence of these critiques and their underlying concerns. Rather than simply dismissing multicultiphobia, Ryan acknowledges that critics of multiculturalism have identified issues about which Canadians need to talk. Does multiculturalism discourage adaptation and encourage 'cultural walls' between Canadians? Does it promote an 'anything goes' relativism? Finally, what do we - both as supporters and critics of multiculturalism - wish to make of Canada's ethnic diversity?
Multicultiphobia perceptively tackles all of these questions by means of a sophisticated analysis that encourages a deeper understanding of the issues at the heart of multiculturalism.
Phil Ryan is an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. His most recent book, Multicultiphobia, was shortlisted for the Canada Prize in the Social Sciences in 2011.