Category Archives: CEDAR Dialogue

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.

Read the Full Article

“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….

Read the Full Article

“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….

Read the Full Article

New Book on Difference by CEDAR Leadership Team

Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World
ADAM B. SELIGMAN, RAHEL R. WASSERFALL, AND DAVID W. MONTGOMERY

book-webcover v2“The authors have the courage as well as the philosophical skills to challenge the sentimentalities designed to help us all to just ‘get along.’ Instead, they draw on their pedagogical experience to provide an account of how difference can be lived. This fascinating book has the potential to change the discussion about how we might live at peace without the peace achieved occluding our rightly lasting differences.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

“Both valuable scholarship and a practical guide for improving intergroup relations, the material is fresh and the work innovative, with new and illuminating insights. I cannot think of a comparable work.”—David Smock, Vice President of the U.S. Institute of Peace

“This book challenges readers to engage intellectual and human experiential resources to acquire empathy and celebrate differences as part of the knowledge of the self. An interdependent and interconnected reality can be realized when we interact with others in fully authentic ways.”—Abdulaziz Sachedina, George Mason University

Whether looking at divided cities or working with populations on the margins of society, a growing number of engaged academics has reached out to communities around the world to address the practical problems of living with difference. This text explores the challenges and necessities of accommodating difference, however difficult and uncomfortable such accommodation may be. Living with Difference draws on fourteen years of the theoretical insights and unique pedagogy developed by CEDAR—Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion. CEDAR has worked internationally with community leaders, activists, and other partners to take the insights of anthropology out of the classroom and into the world. Rather than mitigating conflict by emphasizing what is shared, this work argues for the centrality of difference in creating community: it seeks ways not to overcome or deny differences, but to live with and within them in a self-reflective space and practice. Living with Difference also includes an organizer’s manual for implementing CEDAR’s strategies in one’s own community.

University of California Press
California Series in Public Anthropology
228 pp. 6 x 9
Illustrations: 27 b/w photos
978-0-520-28411-1 $65.00/£44.95 Cloth
978-0-520-28412-8 $19.95/£13.95 Paper

Purchase on Amazon

Purchase on Barnes & Noble

International Orders