The Beliefs of Migrants

First Nanjing School on Beliefs and Public Life, July 10-19, 2016

The 2016 Nanjing School on Beliefs and Public Life (NSBPL) will be devoted to The Beliefs of Migrants. As with previous schools in the CEDAR network, it proceeds from the idea that ritual, belief, and other forms of collective belonging are central for the life of both individuals and society, and that our belief communities are often those to which we devote our greatest loyalties.  In our diverse but increasingly interconnected world, we need to find ways to live together in a world populated by people with very different political ideas, moral beliefs, and communal loyalties.

The goal of the NSBPL is to provide a laboratory for the practical pedagogy of tolerance and living with difference in a global society.  Its focus is on belief as providing the fundamental terms of moral community and its aim is to produce new practices and understandings for living together in a world populated by “differences”.

The NSBPL takes up this very real challenge and tries to critically define differences, especially communal differences between people, as the starting point of a publicly shared life. Its basic aim is to help participants realize their prejudices and question their taken-for-granted assumptions of the other through the construction of a safe social space of exploration and interaction that includes an innovative mixture of academic teaching, experiential field experience (practicums), and affective engagement with the challenges of “living together differently”.

This challenge is more critical today than ever before as population flows, massive human displacement, and migration from economic need as well as populations fleeing political violence and instability, have reached hitherto unimaginable proportions. The challenges of dealing with refugees, displaced persons, and migrant populations is one that has faced countries in Africa and the Middle East for decades, and is now part of daily life in Europe as well. China too has been facing massive population transfers, generally from the North and West to the South East  These economic migrants face many prejudices, fears, and social ostracism as their very presence challenges established boundaries of communities, daily life, ritual practice, and ethnic identification.

Drawing on over fourteen years CEDAR experience, the NSBPL seeks to bring together fellows from different walks of life and different confessional communities (as well as those who define themselves as members of no such communities) to explore these themes together, in conditions of mutual respect and recognition. We look forward to an enriching mix of post-graduate students, professors, NGO leaders, journalists, community leaders, policy analysts, and teachers from Asia and beyond to join us for the the school.

The NSBPL combines more traditional academic lectures with field-work, practical, experiential learning, and more affectively orientated forms of group learning, in an innovative approach to learning that goes far beyond the purely cognitive. English will be the working language of the NSBPL.

Costs: All accepted participants will be required to cover their own travel to/from Nanjing and any costs necessary to obtain a visa. As well, there will be a modest program fee to partially subsidize participation costs. A limited number of need-based scholarships will be available.

The deadline for receiving applications has passed. Any questions should be sent to

The NSBPL is a CEDAR affiliate program working in collaboration with Nanjing Normal University.