Document Type

Honors Project


This thesis explores the contested contemporary political and social uses of the term "multiculturalism" in American and Irish rhetoric and public policy, and interrogates how its multiple uses have influenced immigration law and created tensions among immigrant enclaves and communities in both countries. The concept of multiculturalism is an overused explanation for massive waves of immigration and the various multi-ethnic and multi-national communities that inhabit local and global communities. Many individuals assume multiculturalism's popularity in contemporary discourse is a positive indication of less racist and more culturally inclusive societies. The term is often treated as a political and/or social agenda for many governments, corporations and academic institutions to promote a "politically correct" and ethnically tolerant space. Yet, this objective has ultimately created new political ideologies that serve to reinforce the racial status quo. There is minimal scholarship in the U.S. and abroad that acknowledges the links between America's contentious historic reputation as a "melting pot" and the recent wave of immigrants that contributes to Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" image and its multiculturalism. In this study, I refer to "multiculturalism" as a social phenomenon and a corrupt political project of various governments and institutions to underpin the racial status quo and strategically overlook and ignore racism by masking multiculturalism as a representative term of social justice and cultural solidarity. My spring 2009 study abroad experience in Dublin, Ireland helped to create this special project that brings insight into the connections between Ireland's challenges as a new immigrant society and America's political and historical legacies of unlawful immigrant exclusion, cultural conflict, and racism.



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