WMU News

Political theorist to describe benefits of multiculturalism

March 17, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Ethnic and gender divisions in the population may actually benefit the democratic process rather than erode it, according to a political theorist who will speak Thursday, March 26, at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Iris Marion Young, professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, will focus on "Difference as a Resource in Democratic Communication" in a talk set for 7 p.m. in Room 3512 of Knauss Hall. Her address is free and open to the public.

Young, whose main teaching and research interests are political philosophy, feminist theory and critical social theory, is a multiculturalist who believes that when people identify themselves along gender and ethnic lines, the result can be positive for democracy.

"She argues that starting from a position of difference actually promotes communication that can enhance democracy rather than undermine it," says Dr. James M. Butterfield, associate professor of political science and director of WMU's Institute of Government and Politics, which is sponsoring Young's visit.

Young's Thursday evening presentation will be the topic of a Friday, March 27, discussion session that she will attend at 11 a.m. in Room 3301 of Friedmann Hall. That event also is open to the public.

Young is an author whose books include the 1990 publication, "Justice and the Politics of Difference," and a 1997 work, "Interesting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy and Policy." She has been a visiting fellow at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University and at the Research School of Social Science at Australian National University.

Young's visit to Kalamazoo is part of the Institute of Government and Politics' series on "Citizen Politics: Changing Sources of Identity and Power." For more information, persons should contact Butterfield at (616) 387-5696.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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