Category Archives: CEDAR Dialogue

“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

“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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“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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