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    Multiculturalism, the reality of an illusion

    Zizek, Slavoj (2009) Multiculturalism, the reality of an illusion. ,

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    In a critical reading of my plenary talk at the Law and Critique Conference in 2007, Sara Ahmed challenges my claim that it is an “empirical fact” that liberal multiculturalism is hegemonic. Her first step is to emphasize the distinction between the semblance of hegemony (ideological illusion) and actual hegemony: Hegemony is not really reducible to facts as it involves semblance, fantasy and illusion, being a question of how things appear and the gap between appearance and how bodies are distributed. To read hegemony we have to distrust how things appear. Indeed, what is striking about Zizek’s retort is how much his reading of ‘political correctness’ and ‘liberal multiculturalism’ involved a certain literalism, as if the prohibition of speech acts that are not based on respecting the other’s difference are ‘really’ what is prohibited, or as if the prohibition is simply real by virtue of being articulated within public culture. So the speech act, ‘we must support the other’s difference’ is read as hegemonic, is taken literally as a sign not only that it is compulsory to support the other’s difference, but we are not allowed to refuse this support. The speech act is read as doing what it says. In order to re-consider the effects of such injunctions and prohibitions, I have introduced a new class of what I call non-performatives: speech acts that do not do what they say, that do not bring into effect that which they name. Could the speech work to create an illusion that we do support the other’s difference, which might work by not bringing such support into existence?


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for the (BIH)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 May 2011 08:55
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:52


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