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Kenwyn Taylor


This paper assesses the formal introduction of multiculturalism into the politics of Trinidad. It argues that while the notion of multiculturalism presents a perspective on our diverse culture its official introduction into the politics through a Ministry of Multiculturalism when the acknowledgement of its failure as an official political policy in several countries is evident, has primarily been undertaken as a strategy to gain political capital. This is so, since the practice of religious and cultural traditions is routinely normal in Trinidad without any threat to national cohesion or to any single religious, ethnic or cultural community. Multiculturalism as it is now being emphasised particularly when the country's politics has been gradually moving beyond race and class is not tangibly valuable for the society. It will negate the continual development of the kind of cosmopolitan cultural identity we should be working towards and foster a situation which would promote much more pronounced singular cultural group identities by placing each group into culturally or religiously determined ethnic categories. The paper thus suggests that in the pursuit of nation building, it is much better to acknowledge cultural diversity as a valuable resource and try to establish a framework for building a national cultural identity inclusive of and around those differences outside of an official multicultural policy. If multiculturalism is brought into the dialogue it should be informally introduced as an acknowledgement of the cultural expressions and contributions of groups all working to build a national community.

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