Multiculturalism, interculturalism, 'multiculture' and super-diversity: Of zombies, shadows and other ways of being

Thomas Sealy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
1015 Downloads (Pure)


Multiculturalism has increasingly become challenged and outcast, whether directly or summarily, as theoretically useful or empirically valid. This has come prominently from three corners: interculturalism, ‘everyday’ multiculturalism or ‘multiculture’ and super-diversity, in all of which the zombieness of multiculturalism is seen to be mutually reassured. Nevertheless, there are significant short comings that have not been thoroughly addressed and considered. In this article, I offer a thoroughgoing engagement with and critique of these bodies of work, identifying their points of convergence and divergence, the underlying principles in their relation to multiculturalism and suggesting how they fall short, often of their own goals, in multiple and significant ways. I argue that the cosmopolitan individualism they wish to celebrate ignores the fact of power relations, inequality, conflict and the necessity of politics. The micro-level ‘solutions’ offered, I suggest, do not provide a substitute for a macro-level multiculturalism. Moreover, the conceptualisations of identity also do not stand up to scrutiny. This, I interrogate with a particular reference to religious identity to indicate the shortcomings in these literatures. I propose instead that not only is multiculturalism not the zombie it is claimed but also that it continues to offer better critical resources than its challengers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-716
Number of pages25
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


  • everyday multiculturalism
  • interculturalism
  • liberative difference
  • Multiculturalism
  • multiculture
  • recognition
  • religious identity
  • super-diversity


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiculturalism, interculturalism, 'multiculture' and super-diversity: Of zombies, shadows and other ways of being'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this