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Multiculturalism and the commodification of culture and ethnicity

July 27, 2012

“The racialization and culturalization of Chinese Americans is not new, but is in fact a legacy of Orientalism with a long history. On the other hand, it derives additional force from recent developments, which have created an ideological environment that favors ethnicization. The emergence of multiculturalism in response to ethnic self-assertion is itself one of these new developments. Equally important is the part multiculturalism plays in the commodification of culture and ethnicity. I have referred already to the marketing of books, and how that affects the labeling of literature. In recent decades, ethnicity and culture have become major concerns of marketers and corporate management. As one sociologist observes wryly, “in an age that celebrates diversity and multiculturalism, it has become almost a civic duty to have an ethnicity, as well as to appreciate that of others.”” (219)

Arif Dirlik (2002) ‘Literature/Identity: Transnationalism, Narrative and Representation’. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 24: 209-234

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