The Politics of Race, Ethnic, and Indigenous Peoples Relations in Multicultural Societies

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778). This special issue belongs to the section "Genealogical Communities: Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Racial, and Multi-National Genealogies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2024) | Viewed by 546

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
Retired Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Interests: indigenous peoples' politics; mass media communication; multiculturalism; race and ethnic relations; theorizing social problems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The pandemic has shifted our reality in reshaping how we think, talk about, and respond to the politics of race, ethnic, and Indigenous Peoples relations. It energized the Black Lives Matter Movement while drawing attention to the persistence and pervasiveness of racism, including its perversely enduring appeal to many Americans (Boyle 2022). Of particular note in redefining the race/ethnicity/Indigeneity agenda was reaction to the police killing of George Floyd, followed a year later by the discovery of hundreds of possibly unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the grounds of former  Indian Residential School sites in Canada. The discourses around race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations are being disrupted and dislodged in terms of how the issues are understood, articulated, and debated. References to race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity are no longer always framed as a static “thing” (noun) out there, but more as a dynamic or “process” (verb) in here or in between—from a mosaic metaphor to that of a kaleidoscope—against a backdrop of protest, populism, and polarization. The assumptions that once informed the politics of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity are dissolving before our very eyes, resulting in a growing willingness to listen, learn, reflect, and act upon inequities, of injustice, racism, and colonialism. Yet this call-out for a major reset has also unleashed a dangerous backlash among those anxious to halt any progressive changes, while further dividing the nation along racial lines and warring tribes  (Morris, 2022). The politicization of diversity and the politics of accommodation have also alerted us to the possibility that contemporary race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations are no longer conceptually attuned to the realities of a multicultural world but one more consistent the demands of a postmulticultural world.

The challenge of multiculturally living together with our race,  ethnic, and Indigenous may sound straightforward enough to the casual observer. But what happens if we take up the challenge a notch by acknowledging how the unspoken constitutional order of multicultural societies–even those that subscribe to the principles of multiculturalism-continue to be racialized-in-whiteness, racist by system default instead of collateral damage (ie, not a glitch in the system but a default feature),  Eurocentric in their unvarnished truth claims, structured around a systemic white supremacy, and ruthlessly capitalist in pursuing profits over people and the planet. For example, the seemingly progressive movement to advance the principles of an equity/diversity/inclusion nexus as an institutional staple tends to yield different reactions depending the preferred frame of reference. For some, it’s the promise of positive social change in doing things differently by moving forward; for others, the disappointment of broken promises, virtue-signalling and performative tokenism (Sonia Kang, 2022); and for still others, a well-intentioned band aid that barely staunches the damage inflicted by a profoundly flawed society.  In other words, the nature and dynamics of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations will differ sharply when the different layers of engagement are disaggregated and stretched across the entirety of a multicultural society-from intragroup relations to intergroup relations, from rhetoric to lived reality, from surface symptoms to root causes, from living together with differences to living together with, in, and through complex differences. This shift in focus puts the onus on reframing race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations as fundamentally unequal relations by emphasizing the importance of understanding how these relationships of inequality are constructed, expressed, and sustained within contexts of power and privilege as well as how they are challenged and transformed by way of government practices, institutional reform, ideological shifts, and minority resistance.

Against this backdrop of injustice, inequality, and exclusion as well as within the context of hope, renewal, and justice in our time, this Special Issue of Genealogy is seeking critically informed submissions that tap into the highly politicized domain of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations in both de facto and official multicultural societies. Topics include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following suggestions:

  • What exactly is meant by the expression “race, ethnic, and lndigenous relations” when situated in a multicultural context—a description? A lived reality? A critical analysis? An aspirational ideal?
  • Rethinking the politics of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations in a multicultural society in how we see, think, and respond to developments in this field;
  • Reference to race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations may conceal more than it reveals, insofar as it glosses over vast differences in relational status, lived realities, and collective aspirations;
  • Taking stock of how notions of immigrant integration and minority inclusion have evolved during times of cultural, social, political, and economic uncertainty;
  • How does the idea of gendered inequality challenge conventional notions of “race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations in a multicultural society”?
  • Evolving notions of citizenship in a world that embraces both the principle and practice of cosmopolitanism yet must contend with a reality of hyper-diverse differences-within-differences, inward looking identity politics, and a turn toward public recognition of cultural rights;
  • The politics and worth of a commitment to diversity/equity/inclusion/anti-colonialism agenda in tinkering with the conventions that refer to the rules rather than transforming the rules that inform the details.
  • How do the principles of critical race theory transform the way we frame race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations?
  • How our ideas of racism as articulated, understood, and debated–including what so systemic about systemic racism (Bonilla-Silva, 2021)–have been challenged and are changing in response to the politics and protests over police violence?
  • The social media and the internet as both friend and foe in reframing peoples’ understanding of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations as well as in advancing a more just and equitable society in a world that’s, paradoxically, more divided and spiteful than ever.;
  • The politics of Indigeneity in challenging conventional notions of the sovereign nation-state that espouses the multicultural principles of liberal universalism;
  • While a multicultural society of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations addresses the challenge of living together with our cultural differences, the emergence of a postmulticultural world suggest a need to move beyond a living-together-with-differences agenda by upping the ante to incorporate a living together with/in/through our increasingly complex hyper-differences;
  • How the concept of a European interculturalism (“cooperative inter-existence”) may prove a more responsive governance model than multiculturalism (“tolerant coexistence”) in addressing the lived realities of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity.Problematizing the idea of race, ethnic, and Indigenous relations in those multicultural societies that are increasingly implicated in the realities and demands of a postmulticultural world.


Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. 2021. What makes systemic racism systemic? Sociological Inquiry 91: 513–33. 

Boyle, Kevin. 2022. Moving right. New York Times Book Review, May 15, p.17. 

Kang, Sonia. 2022. Why corporate diversity programs are backfiring. Podcast. 

Morris, Phillip. 2022. How a virus and social unrest became a test of our humanity. National Geographic 5: 12122–12131.

Prof. Dr. Augie Fleras
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • multicultural/postmulticultural societies
  • interculturalism
  • colonial/decolonization
  • structural white supremacy
  • systemic racism
  • critical race theory
  • the politics of indigeneity
  • gendered inequality
  • citizenship
  • living together with/in/through complex differences

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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