Multiculturalism is not new

Countries and their cultures: England

The name of the country and the term “English” derive from the Old English word for one of the three Germanic peoples that invaded the British Isles in the fifth century C . E ., the Angles. “Britain” and “British” derive from a Roman term for the inhabitants’ language of the British Isles, called “Brythonic” or p-Celtic.

English cultural roots lie in a merging of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman French culture that has existed as a synthesis since the late Middle Ages. A process of negotiation was at the heart of this cultural creation.

After stripping them of their assets, Edward I expelled the Jewish community in 1290, and Jews did not receive full rights and recognition until the twentieth century. The earliest guest workers, Flemish clothworkers, frequently found their contributions resented by “native” labor.

German, French, and Low Countries Protestant refugees in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries were confronted with ethnic prejudices. The Irish as Celts and Catholics and the Welsh and Scots as Celts also have faced resentment, especially in eras dominated by English nationalism and British imperialism.

And then there was the British colonial era, which closely associated Britain with a wide variety of cultures around the world, as far away as New Zealand.

I’m urbanised (small scale) with a rural South island background. I had little exposure to the cultures my grandparents experienced, and now have significant exposure to American cultures, which are major mixes of cultures. I know I have Celtic and English cultural history but have no idea what sort of mix, but almost certainly some distant Viking, Norman, Angle and Saxon and probably Roman influence.

Previous Post


  1. sorethumb

     /  August 30, 2017

    New Zealand’s ethnic composition has changed rapidly since the late
    1980s, and has done so free of cultural tensions that have accompanied
    such change elsewhere in the world. Many Somali immigrants, pictured,
    have gathered around the Mt Roskill area in Auckland, part of a
    clustering phenomenon demographers refer to as ‘ethnoburbs’. Still, New
    Zealand has relatively low levels of ethnic segregation compared to
    other similarly diverse countries.

    The dominant driver of that diversity has been migration from Asia. In
    1991, about five per cent of Aucklanders were Asian. Today, it’s 23 per
    cent. By the 2020s, Spoonley believes, it will be 27 or 28 per cent.

    That rapid influx has resulted in geo­graphical distortions too.
    ‘Ethnoburbs’ or ‘ethnic precincts’ have arisen on Auckland’s North Shore
    and in East Auckland, where Asians are the dominant ethnic group.

    “When you look at the size and rapidity of the change,” says Spoonley,
    “it’s very, very unusual.”
    But at the same time, it has happened
    relatively harmoniously. After an initial backlash in the 1990s, led by
    the publication of newspaper articles head­lined ‘Inv-Asian’, and much
    political pos­turing, New Zealanders’ attitudes towards the Asian
    community have been generally and increasingly positive.

    And there are questions of benefit to the economy- For: Eric Crampton, Shamubeel Eaqub etc
    Against: Michael Reddell, Don Brash, Kerry McDonald, Paul Glass, Ian Harrison etc

    and issues about social cohesion: (Robert Putnam/ Evolutionary Psychology)
    Not to mention institutional bias.

    • sorethumb

       /  August 30, 2017

      I.e it is all realtive. You can’t claim we were racist (95% of European ancestry) and then claim we have always been multicultural.

  2. Brown

     /  August 30, 2017

    All cultures are equal but some cultures are more equal than others.

    The world is vastly different from the iron age and the examples from then will not always be relevant to our situation.

  3. sorethumb

     /  August 30, 2017

    “From 1066 until 1950 immigration was almost non-existent – about 50,000 Huguenots in the 16th and 17th century, about 150,000 Jews in two waves, and perhaps one million or more Irish over 200 years, during which time they were internal migrants within one state.” More immigrants now arrive on British shores in a single year than they did in the entire period from 1066 to 1950, excluding wartime flows and the Irish.

  4. Corky

     /  August 30, 2017

    What’s different in the article above is those cultures had a strain of commonality among them, just as Maori do with other Polynesian cultures.

    What about our size. I believe this is where our problems will start. America can hold a myriad of cultures, and you need never mingle with them unless you want to.

    Nowhere to run in New Zealnd though. Once our population hits the six million mark this problem will be brought into stark relief. Auckland gives you a taster of things to come.

    I have little problem with controlled Indian and Asian migration. These people on the whole add value to our country. In fact, on average you would have to say they are superior to your average Kiwi in many regards.

    Here’s a small nation state I believe we could learn from: