Category Archives: New & Events

“Building Pluralism in Central Asia: Outlining an Experiential Approach in Kyrgyzstan”, by David W. Montgomery

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.

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“Trust, Experience and Embodied Knowledge or Lessons from John Dewey on the Dangers of Abstraction”, by Adam Seligman

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.

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Webinar on “Living with Different Cultures” (CEDAR-Japan)

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.

Conversation on “Engaging with Difference, Religious Pluralism, and Building at Tolerant Civil Society”

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.

Seminar on “Community and Belonging in Fracturing Societies”

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.

Speakers

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.

Related Readings

Reset Dialogues on Human Rights and Belonging

Between May–July 2020, Reset Dialogues published a Dossier project collectively titled “A World Without Human Rights?” The project brought together a dozen scholars from across Europe to engage with Adam Seligman and David Montgomery’s 2019 article on “The Tragedy of Human Rights: Liberalism and the Loss of Belonging.” Commentators included Silvio Ferrari and John Holmwood, who have participated in past CEDAR programs. In their response, Seligman and Montgomery both touch upon the CEDAR pedagogy as a way forward.

From the introduction to the special Dossier:

“These arguments touch on some central issues of contemporary philosophical and political debate, from the role of law in the development of civil society to the interaction between the universality of rights and the particularities of cultural and religious affiliations. The relationship between the rights due to the individual and those that must be recognized to groups (primarily minorities) and the conflict between rights and policies of freedom on the one hand and equality on the other are further questions that are raised by the Seligman-Montgomery article.

“No one can miss how topical these issues are and how important for the future of liberal democracies. Populist and nationalist movements have understood that globalisation has not erased but rather accentuated the need for roots, tradition, belonging and have used this need to challenge policies of rights based on equality and inclusion. On the one hand there is growing regret for (and the desire to rebuild) boundaries that include and exclude, warm the hearts of those inside but leave those outside in the cold. On the other hand, one wonders where this desire to rediscover the value of differences can lead. Won’t it end up justifying the new walls that are rising up everywhere, making us forget that each person is part of the same human family and disavowing rights (laboriously) recognized to each individual precisely on the basis of this universal belonging?”

Read the full debate and responses

Adam Seligman receives the prestigious 2020 Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize

We are pleased to announce that Adam Seligman is a recipient of the 2020 Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize. Founded in 1972 by Franz D. Lucas on the 100th birthday of his father, Rabbi Leopold Lucas, who died in Theresienstadt, the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize is awarded annually by the Faculty of Theology on behalf of the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. The award, endowed with 50,000 euros, recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of theology, intellectual history, historical research, and philosophy, as well as a commitment to international understanding and tolerance.

Seligman is the founding director of CEDAR—Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion, a non-governmental organization that for 20 years has run programs around the world on the topic of “living with difference”, and a professor of religion at Boston University. His work revolves around the importance of religion in a plural society. His writing combines different fields including religious studies, from more classical competences in the areas of ​​ritual, tradition, authority, and trust to the need for mutual respect in multi-religious and plural societies. Against this background, he is actively involved in current debates and initiatives around religion and tolerance. The jury cited the contribution of his work to advance the idea of tolerance.

Seligman shares the prize this year with Linda Woodhead of the University of Lancaster, UK. The award ceremony will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but will be linked to the 2021 award ceremony.

“The Tragedy of Human Rights: Liberalism and the Loss of Belonging”, by Adam B. Seligman and David W. Montgomery

“The Tragedy of Human Rights: Liberalism and the Loss of Belonging”, by Adam B. Seligman and David W. Montgomery. 2019. Society. 56(3): 203-209.

We argue here that human rights are as much the problem as they are the solution to the contemporary challenge of constructing civil society, observing that the seemingly inherent long-term social and political consequences of close to half a century of advocating human rights to the exclusion of other components of human good and fulfillment have been at the expense of any sense of shared belonging. Delineating between rights and belonging, we show how the extreme right has latched on to a tangible argument for belonging while the left has responded by continuing to advocate for abstract, universal, and unencumbered human rights to the detriment of its efforts to build civil society.

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CEDAR receives 2017 Praxis Award honorable mention

On December 1, CEDAR received an honorable mention for the 2017 Praxis Award given by the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA) at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. As one Praxis Award juror noted:

Longitudinal survey data indicate that participants carried the CEDAR experience forward in their careers. And CEDAR team members have published extensively on their theory, method, and experience. That is potentially a huge impact multiplier, insofar as they are producing resources to help other conflict-reduction interventions to understand and implement the CEDAR approach. Helping individuals, groups, and communities recognize and accept difference as an inescapable, inevitable, and, most importantly, acceptable part of our social experience has to be one of the most important projects anyone can pursue these days. I really admire this team’s dedication to what must sometimes feel like an overwhelming problem.

The biennial Praxis Award is a competition for excellence and achievement in translating anthropological knowledge into action and is one of the most competitive awards in anthropology.

Read WAPA press release