Identity Politics in the Public Realm
308 pages, 6 x 9
5 tables
Release Date:01 Jul 2012
Release Date:11 Oct 2011
Release Date:15 Sep 2011

Identity Politics in the Public Realm

Bringing Institutions Back In

UBC Press

In an age of multiculturalism and identity politics, many minority groups seek some form of official recognition or public accommodation of their identity. But can public institutions accurately recognize or accommodate something as subjective and dynamic as “identity?” Are there coherent standards and fair procedures for responding to identity claims?

In this book, Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka lead a distinguished team of scholars who explore state responses to identity claims worldwide. Their case studies focus on key issues where identity is central to public policy – such as the construction of census categories, interpretation of antidiscrimination norms, and assessment of indigenous rights – and assess the influence of democratization on the capacity of institutions to respond to group claims. By illuminating both the risks and opportunities of institutional responses to diversity, this volume shows that public institutions can either enhance or distort the benefits of identity politics. Much depends on the agency of citizens and the ability of institutions to adapt to success and failure.

This volume will interest students and scholars in political science, sociology, and religious studies, as well as activists, policy-makers, and public officials.

Avigail Eisenberg is a professor of political science at the University of Victoria. Will Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University.

Contributors: Victor Armony, Lori G. Beaman, Bruce J. Berman, Juliet Hooker, Villia Jefremovas, André Laliberté, Eléonore Lépinard, Jocelyn Maclure, Melissa Nobles, Padmapani L. Perez


1 Bringing Institutions Back In: How Public Institutions Assess Identity / Avigail Eisenberg and Will Kymlicka

2 The Challenge of Census Categorization in the Post–Civil Rights Era / Melissa Nobles

3 Knowledge and the Politics of Ethnic Identity and Belonging in Colonial and Postcolonial States / Bruce J. Berman

4 Defining Indigeneity: Representation and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 in the Philippines / Villia Jefremovas and Padmapani L. Perez

5 Indigenous Rights in Latin America: How to Classify Afro-Descendants? / Juliet Hooker

6 Domestic and International Norms for Assessing Indigenous Identity / Avigail Eisenberg

7 The Challenge of Naming the Other in Latin America / Victor Armony

8 From Immigrants to Muslims: Shifting Categories of the French Model of Integration / Eléonore Lépinard

9 Beliefs and Religion: Categorizing Cultural Distinctions among East Asians / André Laliberté

10 Assessing Religious Identity in Law: Sincerity, Accommodation, and Harm / Lori G. Beaman

11 Reasonable Accommodations and the Subjective Conception of Freedom of Conscience and Religion / Jocelyn Maclure


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