This book questions the political logic of foregrounding cultural collectives in a world shaped by globalization and neoliberalization. Throughout the world, it is no longer only individuals, but increasingly collective "cultures" who are made responsible for their own regulation, welfare and enterprise. This appears as a surprising shift from the tenets of classical liberalism which defined the ideal subject of politics as the "unencumbered self"- the free, equal and self-governing individual.
The increasing promotion and recognition of cultural rights in international legislation, multiculturalism, and public debates on "culture" as a political problem more generally indicate that culture has become a more central terrain for governance and struggles around rights and citizenship. On the basis of case studies from China, Latin America, and North America, the contributors of this book explore the links between culture, civility, and the politics of citizenship. They argue that official reifications of "culture" in relation to citizenship, and even the recognition of cultural rights, may obey strategies of governance and control, but that citizens may still use new cultural rights and networks, and the legal mechanisms that have been created to protect them, in order to pursue their own agendas of empowerment.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Economy and Society.