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British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation$
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Lasse Thomassen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474422659

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474422659.001.0001

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Subjects of Equality

Subjects of Equality

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 Subjects of Equality
Source:
British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation
Author(s):

Lasse Thomassen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474422659.003.0003

This chapter looks at the concept and practice of equality, and it draws on the works of Ernesto Laclau, Jacques Derrida and Jacques Rancière. It begins with the legal case Mandla from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The decision in that case played a pivotal role in rearticulating the meaning of Sikh, race and ethnicity. As such, it plays an important role in British race relations legislation because it redefined the meaning of ‘race’. The discussion of the case takes the chapter on to a discussion of the debate between the liberal multiculturalist Bhikhu Parekh and the liberal egalitarian Brian Barry. The discussion of Mandla and of the Parekh/Barry debate both show that equality is articulated through identity, which is to say that we need to pay attention to the way identities and categories are represented: ‘Sikh’, ‘race’, ‘human’, and so on. Equality is always connected to particular images – representations – of what it means to be, for instance, a Sikh or a human being. The politics of equality is a politics of representation.

Keywords:   Bhikhu Parekh, Brian Barry, equality, Mandla, race, representation

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