Category Archives: New & Events

“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

“How to Live with Difference in a Divided Nation” – interview with David Montgomery

“How to Live with Difference in a Divided Nation: In an Age of Disagreement, Advice for Getting Along,” by Andrew Thurston. Boston University College of Arts & Sciences Magazine. Spring 2017.

Whether you’re overjoyed or petrified at seeing Donald J. Trump in the White House, there’s probably one thing everyone can agree on: the other half of the country has gone mad. Yet despite our sharp ideological divisions, we all have to live together. David W. Montgomery (GRS’03,’07) is an expert on helping people with fundamental differences get along with each other. He says the secret is not to look for common ground, but to acknowledge our diversity—and disagreements. Montgomery is the coauthor of Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World (University of California Press, 2015) and director of program development for CEDAR, Communities Engaging with Difference & Religion. The book, written with Professor of Religion Adam B. Seligman and Rahel R. Wasserfall, is based on CEDAR’s experiences bringing people of different backgrounds and faiths (or none at all) together. The educational nonprofit runs fortnightly programs designed to encourage people to build a more tolerant world…

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“Broken Politics and the Hope of Discomfort”, by David W. Montgomery

“Broken Politics and the Hope of Discomfort”, by David W. Montgomery. 2017. Maydan. January 19.

These are days desperate for answers. In both practical and existential terms, people are asking what Trump’s Electoral College win – and presidency – means. Does his combative style represent a new populism? Does his presidency give legitimacy to racist and fascist sentiments? Is this a harbinger of America’s moral decay or an opportunity to instantiate a particular moral vision that will aright past indiscretions? Many in our country are uncertain, anxious, and afraid, while others feel vindicated and optimistic. The tension speaks to a divide, not a way to bridge a divide.

Bridging the divide is not about overcoming it, nor is it about acting as if there is no divide. The 2016 presidential election made the division within our country feel insurmountable….

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“The Burkini as a Mirror”, by Adam Seligman

“The Burkini as a Mirror”, by Adam Seligman. 2016. openDemocracy. August 25.

Last week, the mayor of Oye-Plage in France was so disturbed by seeing a woman in a burkini on the beach that he is planning to ban such a garb from the beaches of his own town. This reminded me of some of my own experiences in the past that may just be relevant to the current debates over the burkini in Cannes, Marseille and other beaches in France.

About fourteen years ago I was in Jordan with my not-yet-adolescent daughter. We were in a goldsmith’s shop in Amman looking at jewelry. The shop was very small, almost a cubicle. At one point six to eight women entered. They were totally covered by burkas; only their eyes were partially visible through a bit of lacework. This was the first time I had found myself in such a situation, in a very small space, surrounded by a group of women of whom I could see nothing….

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EVENT: Jan 26, 2016 Wasserfall at Brandeis

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 / 12:30-2:00

Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall / Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center

Brandeis University

Rahel R. Wasserfall presents

“How Do We Learn to Live with Difference? A Pedagogy of Discomfort: CEDAR programs”

In this talk, Wasserfall discusses the methodology behind Living with Difference and overviews the habits of the mind and the heart communities need to develop to face the strangers that populate our lives.