Multiculturalism has become a loaded word, with cities like Paris and Brussels becoming emblematic of the failure of the ideal of different cultures and religions living together. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor started working on the issues of diversity and multiculturalism in the 1980s and published an influential essay called “The Politics of Recognition” in 1992, which said that recognition is a “vital human need.” In 2007, when a controversy arose in his home province of Quebec over whether or not to accommodate immigrants from different religions and cultures, Taylor became a co-chair of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, which held meetings throughout the province and released the Bouchard-Taylor report in 2008 that recommended a set of guidelines for showing “openness and generosity of spirit” for minorities.
We asked Taylor which city in the world demonstrates that multiculturalism is working.
Indian political scientist Rajeev Bhargava and Taylor have spent decades exchanging ideas about many subjects, including diversity in their nations. In this essay, Bhargava tells the story of his 40-year friendship and intellectual collaboration with Taylor.