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Migration A–Z


  1. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm377

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Petrzela, N. M. 2013. Multiculturalism. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


The term “multiculturalism” was used as early as the 1940s in Canada (Glazer 1997). Originally articulated to define a particular theory of social policy which prized the recognition of ethnoracial heritage over acculturation, by the 1990s the term attained the widespread usage it enjoys today in discussions ranging from education and politics to academia. “Multicultural” has arguably become protean with overuse; this essay endeavors to bring specificity to this concept which is so crucial to our understanding of contemporary politics and society. In exploring the key themes which define the capacious theory of multiculturalism in the 20th and early 21st centuries, this essay focuses on the case of the United States. Negotiating the problems and potential of its multicultural populace has necessarily been at the forefront of the intellectual, policy, and pedagogical agenda of this self-styled “nation of immigrants.” While the American case is exceptional, it raises vital questions of global concern in a world becoming unequivocally more diverse as vast immigration flows disrupt traditional notions of the nation state and of attendant conceptions of citizenship and its privileges.


  • cultural diversity;
  • cross-cultural;
  • identity politics;
  • social policy;
  • transnationalism;
  • civil rights;
  • immigration