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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2005, Vol. 5 No. 1 .


Interculturalism, Education and Inclusion
Jagdish Gundara

London: Sage Publications, 2000,
214pp PB 19.99 ISBN:0761966234


Gundara?s latest book on the contemporary dilemmas of interculturalism in education takes its inspiration from his personal experience and is based on an autobiographical framework starting from his early years as an Asian pupil in Kenya to his professional development as a teacher in secondary, community and higher education in the UK. The volume is also the result of the work undertaken at the International Centre for Intercultural Studies, Institute of Education, University of London where the author holds the posts of both Professor of Education and Head of the Intercultural Studies (p. x).

From the very preface, the author confesses not to be supportive of the editors? request to adopt this self-confessional approach. He explains, however, to have been persuaded to recount his personal history in order to illustrate how somebody, who has been brought up in a racially segregated environment and schooling, has come out of it thinking differently (p.14). This book reflects the achievements of a life-long dedication to the discovery of the role of education in fostering cohesive societies, where the encounter among different cultures may develop a shared and common value system and a sustainable multicultural polity.

Gundara?s socio-historical investigation is underpinned by his theoretical postulation that multiculturalism is not triggered as a response to immigration, but has long existed in the complex legacy of the histories of nation states and Europe itself. In the case of the United Kingdom, Gundara argues that, after devolution, the British have to find ?new ways of replacing the previous exclusivities of the English nation? (p.21) out of the mutual antipathies between the English, the Welsh and the Scots. These traditional taxonomies have been camouflaged by the hegemonic state with a discourse that ?otherise? immigrants as aliens and prevents the original complex pattern of British identity to emerge distinctively. Gundara?s historic revisionism sets out precisely to counter this hegemonic argument of an homogeneous identity in traditional societies.

Gundara specifically directs his critique to the ?Eurospeak of interculturalism? and British multiculturalism by deconstructing their modern character, their geographical circumscription to the nation state and their temporal contingency (p. 121).

Whilst Gundara?s historical analysis needs to be complemented by an in-depth reading of the burgeoning literature in migration and race relations in Europe, its focus on the youth question is praiseworthy because of its bridging of the distance between education and the wider remit of social policies (that is, race/community relations and equality).

The book assumes no previous knowledge of intercultural education and appeals to a wider audience than students and practitioners in this field. It should actually raise the interest of policy-makers and analysts towards education, whose predominant assumptions celebrate its impartiality. Gundara reminds us that the hidden curriculum is but one overt manifestation of institutionalised racism and that indoctrination survives in contemporary forms of knowledge and their shaping through both the curriculum and the school organisation.


Silvia Mussano, PhD Candidate ? University of Ulster



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