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The Multiculturalism of Fear$
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Jacob T. Levy

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198297123

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198297122.001.0001

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Ethnic Symbolism and Official Apologies 1

Ethnic Symbolism and Official Apologies 1

Chapter:
(p.222) 8 Ethnic Symbolism and Official Apologies1
Source:
The Multiculturalism of Fear
Author(s):

Jacob T. Levy (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198297122.003.0009

Examines symbolic ethnic politics: the politics of place names, group names, national symbols, official apologies, and other matters that do not affect the rights or resources of any particular persons. Such symbolism is important in ethnic politics, and a theory with nothing to say about it is unsatisfactory. Disputes over symbolic issues, however, are poorly suited to compromise and easily escalate into rallying points for wider conflicts. In addition, it is often impossible to meet the symbolic demands of all groups simultaneously. The chief constraint on symbolic politics should be non‐humiliation and the avoidance of the celebration of past injustices and violence, a standard that can be met for all groups simultaneously. Official apologies in particular are considered at length; they are defended against the charges of collective guilt and anachronism, but are found to be limited by considerations including the passage of time and institutional discontinuities.

Keywords:   collective responsibility, group names, intergenerational responsibility, national symbols, non‐humiliation, official apologies, place names, reparations, state speech, symbolism

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