Multiculturalism and After? conference takes place at BU

Posted on Wednesday, January 30 2013

A columnist from The Times newspaper was among speakers at a Bournemouth University conference which explored multiculturalism.

The free half-day Multiculturalism and After? conference looked at what multiculturalism means and the future of social cohesion in Britain – including whether the internet was encouraging extreme views.

David Aaronovitch – who writes for The Times – talked about the use of the world multiculturalism in the media at the conference, which was organised by BU’s Media School.

He said: “By and large, people don’t mean the same thing by multiculturalism. It is now used in a series of extremely diverse and different ways.”

Other speakers at the conference included Professor Ted Cantle CBE, who set up the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo Foundation) and Professor Ann Phoenix, from the Institute of Education.

Professor Cantle said: “It is important to discuss these issues in forums like this.

“Until we are prepared to confront some of the difficult issues, we are never going to get over it.

“It is about openness and being mature enough to have a debate about these issues.”

Jasvinder Sanghera, of charity Karma Nirvana – which provides support and refuge for victims of forced marriages and honour-based violence – spoke about her own experiences.

She said that people should not be afraid of asking difficult questions about cultural practices.

She said: “Multiculturalism is not an excuse for political correctness or moral blindness.

“Cultural acceptance does not mean accepting the unacceptable.”

Jamie Bartlett from leading think-tank Demos also talked about the research he had done into extremism and social media.

He said: “The internet isn’t always the greatest friend of multiculturalism. People just read the things that they already agree with.”

The conference finished with a panel discussion involving all of the speakers, who also answered questions from audience members at the conference, which took place in BU’s Executive Business Centre.

The event was chaired by Stephen Jukes, Dean of the Media School, who said: “It is part of the university’s policy and practice of public engagement.

“It is also very much related to the development of the Media School’s research into political extremism. Cohesive communities are one in which extremism finds it quite hard to take root.”

He added: “The core question for the conference is whether multiculturalism – however you define it – provides a workable basis for a cohesive society.”