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“Old” Natives and “New” Immigrants: Beyond Territory and History in Kymlicka's Account of Group-Rights

Darian Heim


According to Will Kymlicka, only historically and territorially bound “national” groups can engage in a “nation-building” process. Recently arrived immigrant groups cannot as they have neither been able nor willing to do so. The paper argues, first, that such empirical facts are insufficient for the normative conclusions Kymlicka defends; and second, that if his ultimate goal is to achieve better “terms of integration” for immigrants, he cannot deny them the right to attempt their own “nation-building”. As an illustration, the paper describes Kymlicka's own thought-experiment of Chinese immigrants in Canada pursuing a nation-building-process analogous to the Québécois. It explores how criteria for advocating group rights other than history and territory – desert, participation, or need –avoid treating old and new minorities in an arbitrarily asymmetric manner.


Will Kymlicka; History; Territory; National Minorities; Immigration

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