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Making VolunteersCivic Life after Welfare's End$
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Nina Eliasoph

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147093

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147093.001.0001

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Tell Us about Your Culture: What Participants Count as “Culture”

Tell Us about Your Culture: What Participants Count as “Culture”

(p.190) Chapter 11 Tell Us about Your Culture: What Participants Count as “Culture”
Making Volunteers

Nina Eliasoph

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows how the terms “culture” and “diversity” are used by the Snowy Prairian participants. Because these terms are used so constantly, they end up meaning everything and yet nothing. While empowerment talk summons these participants to draw on their unique cultures, no culture quite seems to fit the purpose. All of them are deemed too difficult to understand, or are considered too sexist, racist, hierarchical, inaccessible, constraining, frozen, or ossified. Participants furthermore had to “cleanse” their cultures before allowing them to enter the open, flexible, optional, transparent, and egalitarian civic arena. While the term “cultural diversity” has never led to explorations of anyone's religion, history, or language, this chapter shows that this cleansing still has an effect. It makes the differences feel transparent, weightless, and easy to doubt.

Keywords:   culture, diversity, cultural diversity, unique cultures, cultural cleansing

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