The Kitara School of Difference (KSD) has been established in St. Ignatius University Kabale. Formerly the Equator Peace Academy (EPA), which was based at Uganda Martyrs University and ran regular programs since 2012, the KSD will continue the work begun by EPA to extend more dialogue and deeper analysis of issues on difference in the area of the former Kitara kingdom. Indeed, the name of the school is drawn from the legendary oral tradition Kitara Kingdom. The kingdom supposedly lasted until the 16th century in the territory of modern Uganda, northern Tanzania, eastern Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi. Today, people living in the areas of former Kitara share somewhat similar Bantu languages and cultures, often intermarry, though have had numerous cultural and traditional conflicts. The KSD is designed to engage thematic issues in this region with the aim of confronting problems of intolerance to diversity, divisive governance, and the turbulent past. As a CEDAR affiliate, KSD utilizes the CEDAR pedagogy to bring international participants together to explore issues of living together differently. The goal is to understand and overcome the type of social segregation and violence that have so often characterize relations between different communities in this region. At St. Ignatius University, the school is housed within the Center for Planning and Development (CPD).
The Kenyan Program on Pedagogies for Community (KPPC) was created by the Culture for Peace, Development and Rights non-profit organization in Kenya. Emerging out of training during CEDAR affiliate programs, KPPC focuses on addressing the major challenges facing Kenya today. These include the dynamics of fostering unity and understanding the intricate interplay of cultural diversity and social, political, and economic differences. Positioned within the organizational framework of CEDAR, KPPC is dedicated to fostering sustainable development and peacebuilding in Kenya. Its primary mission revolves around unraveling the inherent dynamics of Kenya’s diverse communities, with a specific focus on interfaith dialogue, cross-cultural understanding, and the nuanced dynamics of tribal belonging. A central tenet of its philosophy is cultivating a profound comprehension of the distinctive customs, traditions, and religious paradigms that underpin the fabric of society in Kenya. Employing a CEDAR approach that transcends conventional political discourse, KPPC endeavors to establish a foundation for enduring coexistence and knowledge acquisition. Its comprehensive initiative aims to engender understanding and empathy among diverse Kenyan communities, delving beyond immediate political realities to explore historical, economic, and social factors contributing to the recurrent episodes of violence that have plagues the country. KPPC works to be a catalyst for sustainable coexistence and learning, envisioning a transformative role in fostering unity and comprehension among Kenya’s multifaceted demographic groups.
The Atlas of Religious or Belief Minority Rights is an online tool to map and measure the rights of religious or belief minorities (RBMs) in the European Union countries. Mapping will illuminate what rights RBMs have in each country, and measuring is essential for developing evidence-based policy making. To this end, the Atlas makes use of three indices that measure the promotion of RBM rights (P-index), equal treatment (E-index) and the distance between religious majority and minorities (G-index). The indices have been constructed on the basis of the answers given by national legal experts in response to four questionnaires; their answers have been evaluated using a methodology built with respect to the international standards concerning RBM rights. The Atlas currently covers 12 countries and 13 RBMs. The Atlas’ currently available data focuses on examining and measuring legal systems and soon be supplement with a sociological analysis of the data. Collectively, the Atlas provides new information and data that can help the work scholars, journalists, diplomats, NGOs, and others interested in promoting minority rights.
Montgomery, David W. 2021. “Building Pluralism in Central Asia: Outlining an Experiential Approach in Kyrgyzstan.” The Review of Faith & International Affairs 19 (4):98-110.
Pluralism recognizes diversity and aims to facilitate peaceful coexistence across a variety of interests and convictions. Across Central Asia, states have become increasingly authoritarian and in turn less favorable to implementing political and legal structures commonly seen as necessary for pluralism. The question about the potential for pluralism in Central Asia, however, is different from one on how to build pluralism. In this article, I argue that despite the less-than-sanguine prospects for pluralism to emerge across the region, pluralism can be built through programming that engages difference and creates new solidarities around shared experience, without the insistence on shared meaning.
Seligman, Adam. 2021. “Trust, Experience and Embodied Knowledge or Lessons from John Dewey on the Dangers of Abstraction.” Journal of Trust Research:1-17. doi: 10.1080/21515581.2021.1946821.
This paper explores the connection between trust and confidence on the one hand and different forms of knowledge (abstract and general viz. particular and concrete) on the other. While the distinction between trust and confidence was first made by Niklas Luhmann their connection to forms of knowledge and so attitudes towards difference is new. Making use of insights afforded to us by John Dewey, I argue here for the dependence of trust on an ability to abide with ambiguity and the loss of control that the eschewal of generalised categories of knowledge implies. Finally, I draw social and political implications from these insights in terms of the ability to live with differences, with the stranger and with those ‘others’ who cannot be known and so contained within abstract categories.
Living in society demands living among many different types of people, including those whose norms, models of a good life, and moral imperatives may differ from our own—for example, with respect to family, gender, and sexual orientations. How can we live harmoniously among people with different political ideas, moral beliefs, religious commitments, communal loyalties, and sexualities? How do we accommodate such difference, and when does the social fabric of belonging stretch beyond the breaking point? In other words, how can we engage the other with compassion, while also sustaining the group boundaries that define us?
Attempting to address such questions is uniquely challenging in Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, especially when perceived threats touch upon basic human needs, the vulnerabilities of the body, and specifically gender and sexuality. One group’s sexual expressions are seen by another as a sign of corruption and decadence. One community’s commitment to holiness and self-restraint is taken by the other as an invitation to pathological hatred. For gay teens and young adults growing up in Orthodox Jewish environments, the crucible of crushing guilt can lead to mortal danger. The conflict between longstanding religious norms and emerging social and scientific realities has occasionally resulted not only in suicide but also in violence in the streets.
Eshel is a nonprofit organization in the United States and Canada that works to create community and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews and their families in Orthodox Jewish communities. Increasingly over the past few years, CEDAR staff have been working with Eshel leadership toward developing programming for an open and inclusive place in Orthodox Jewish communities where LGBTQ individuals can feel welcome as full members of the community, able to live their lives according to their own choices and preferences.
Eshel’s approach to matters of sexual preference embodies CEDAR’s philosophy regarding the importance of accepting difference, especially from and within more traditional social, cultural, and religious parameters. Eshel’s work in schools, families, among individuals, and in Orthodox synagogues aligns with CEDAR’s pedagogy for living with difference, and we are pleased and honored to play a role in its development. Thus far, collaboration has revolved around programming events, though we are looking forward to expanding our collaboration in the development of shared projects and pedagogies.
On March 8, 2021, the Research Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Hiroshima University in Japan hosted a webinar in Japanese and English on “Living with Different Cultures”. The webinar was led by CEDAR fellow Tinka Delakorda Kawashima (Hiroshima University) and Adam Seligman (CEDAR).
In addition to the public webinar, a smaller audience of educators–Hiroshima University faculty and others whose work focuses on both childhood education and intercultural competence–participated in a closed meeting to discuss the CEDAR pedagogy and its uses in the Japanese context.
The event was recorded and can be viewed here.
On February 18, 2021, Adam Seligman was interviewed for a session on “Engaging with Difference, Religious Pluralism, and Building a Tolerant Civil Society”. Part of Georgetown University’s Global Religious and Secular Dynamics Discussion Series, Seligman was interviewed by José Casanova, and discussed questions about civil society, trust, authority, collective belonging, and the challenges posed by individualism and modern human rights discourse to any shared idea of a substantive public good. Weaving together theory and practice, the two scholars also discussed Seligman’s role as director of CEDAR and the challenge of living with difference in a divided world.
This event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Reset Dialogues on Civilizations.
This event was recorded and can be viewed here.
On February 9, 2021, the Center for Governance and Markets at the University of Pittsburgh hosted a discussion with Adam Seligman, David Montgomery, and John Holmwood on “Community and Belonging in Fracturing Societies”. The discussion explored the difficulties of living with and tolerating difference and learning to trust members of different communities. A video of the talk, which was part of the Co-existing in Pluralistic Societies virtual seminar series, can be found here.
Adam Seligman is Professor of Religion at Boston University and Director of CEDAR–Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion.
David Montgomery is Associate Research Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and Director of Program Development of CEDAR–Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion.
John Holmwood is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham and Senior Researcher in the Centre for Science Technology and Society Studies of the Institute for Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Science.
- Seligman, A.B., & Montgomery, D.W. (2019). The Tragedy of Human Rights: Liberalism and the Loss of Belonging. Society.
- Holmwood, J. (2020). A Postcolonial Conservative Defence of Multicultural Equality. Reset Dialogues.
- Seligman, A.B. (2020). The Tragedy of Human Rights: Liberalism and the Loss of Belonging – A reply to our Critics. Reset Dialogues.
- Montgomery, D.W. (2020). “A World Without Human Rights?”: A Response. Reset Dialogues.
CEDAR-Nagasaki (August 2019) addressed the different histories and memories held by people from Japan and its former colonies. CEDAR-Hiroshima (March 2021) will focus on ethnic tensions rising under Japan’s new immigration act. To develop the program, the university-based CEDAR Hiroshima has been hosting a series of study meetings with local colleagues to build the network and share knowledge about the CEDAR pedagogy.
Given that workers in Japan do not have long holidays allowing them to join the standard two-week CEDAR programs, the Nagasaki and Hiroshima teams are exploring the most effective ways of translating the CEDAR experience to the Japanese context. The CEDAR-Japan workshops, for example, will be only three days long. The team plans to publish a program report with an appendix of the program outline in Japanese and English to show how shorter programs–held in conjunction with regular engagement–can help Japan develop a peaceful, multicultural society.
At present, collaborating with colleagues at Hiroshima University, CEDAR-Hiroshima is building a network for the first workshop, which will, through discussions with different members of society, help nurture a mindset for living with differences and learning from diversities. In the workshop, program participants will engage with local organizations that represent ethnically diverse communities including an NGO supporting immigrants; a workplace employing immigrants; a Catholic Church; and an ethnic school for Zainichi Koreans. Though COVID-19 has delayed CEDAR-Hiroshima preparations, the program–currently planned for Spring 2021–hopes to integrate the CEDAR pedagogy into local university teacher-training curriculums and will continue to coordinate with the CEDAR-Nagasaki program in adapting CEDAR to the Japanese context.