Public Reason: Vol. 12, No. 1, 2020
Inherited Identities and the Concept of Boundary. Mapping the Multicultural Public Space
Daniel Cojanu

Cohabitation of cultures in today’s world is no longer just an issue of the domestic politics of multi-ethnic states or an item on the agenda of international relations. Now, when groups of migrants and refugees complicate the landscape of an increasingly unstable and mixed-up world, the problem of cohabitation should be solved urgently. In the multicultural public space of the great western metropolises, the rights and the obligations, the citizenship or the civic virtues of the individuals have a different meaning than they had in the public space of traditional homogeneous societies. The imperative of tolerance in the sense of classical liberalism can no longer regulate the infinite interactions between individuals with different identities, histories and affiliations. Those who meet and live together are not only free agents, defined by the ability to deliberately choose and build their common destiny, but also bearers of inherited collective identities that demand public expression. Ignoring the cultural differences or “exiling” them in the private sphere, as deontological liberalism proposes, would impede the exercise of a fundamental right, the freedom of expression. The meeting of cultures and the realization of a modus vivendi depends on the reactivation of a perennial function of the public space, that of making distinct, visible what otherwise would have been consumed in the shade and anonymity of the private, domestic life. This study intends to demonstrate how the coexistence of the inherited collective identities also depends on the recognition of the notion of boundary associated with the cultural identity, given that the ethnic cultures manifest in the new public space at least a symbolic territoriality. For the distinctive identity of the ethnic communities is built on the recognition of the Other, therefore of a certain demarcation, not only on the fidelity to the inherited values and traditions.

Key words: cultural identity, politics of recognition, symbolic boundary, multicultural citizenship, cultural rights.


Cojanu, Daniel. 2020. Inherited Identities and the Concept of Boundary. Mapping the Multicultural Public Space.Public Reason 12 (1): 33-45.