Multiculturalism, Mauritian Style: Cultural Diversity, Belonging, and a Secular State

Caroline Ng Tseung-Wong, Maykel Verkuyten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Multiculturalism is on the retreat in many Western countries. As an ideology, it is criticized for failing to engender national belonging and social cohesion and thereby to encourage groups of citizens to have parallel lives. In this article, we present the case of Mauritius that is often viewed as a successful plural society. We discuss the conditions that are conducive to a working multiculturalism in Mauritius as well as the challenges. We use empirical findings from our relatively large-scale survey research among adolescents from the three main ethnic groups (i.e., Hindus, Creoles, Muslims). The metaphorical representation of the nation as a rainbow or fruit salad means that cultural diversity forms part of the national self-image, but within a secular state where individual rights prevail. Our findings show that all participants reported strong and compatible national, ethnic, and religious group identifications and that dual identity was the most chosen identity option. Furthermore, intergroup relations tended to be positive but there was a strong preference for ethnic endogamy. Additionally, there were social psychological processes that work against harmonious intergroup relations. The article concludes by discussing what can be learned from Mauritian style multiculturalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-701
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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