The new cosmopolitanism: Global migration and the building of a common life

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The Centre’s Director Angus Ritchie and Senior Fellow Vincent Rougeau blog about the upcoming Contending Modernities conference taking place in London.

The Contending Modernities Global Migration working group is pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference to be held in London, UK on 14 & 15 October 2013 – The New Cosmopolitanism: Global Migration and the Building of a Common Life. The conference grows out of the working group’s research project in London, which focuses on the ways that broad-based community organizing enables secular and religious citizens to build a common life. The conference will bring this research into dialogue with a wide range of theoretical and empirical research on the role of faith in public life in pluralist and culturally diverse societies. A keynote lecture will be given by The Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin.

Call for papers

Few questions in contemporary studies of migration and citizenship have proved more urgent in recent years than the question of how migrants and hosts in societies marked by growing cultural and ethical pluralism are to live together peaceably and inclusively. Globalizing cities in Europe and North America are rapidly becoming home not only to new waves of immigrants, but also to new forms of civic identity, citizenship and civil society. Central to this new multicultural cosmopolitanism are people of faith, whose religious identity and commitments—not least their understanding of what constitutes a just and humane society— informs their interaction with one another and with secular actors and institutions. Working in collaboration, and in other cases in competition, Christians, Muslims (as well as Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus), civic and business leaders, and political action groups are working to build community, gain representation and shape local and national democracy.

The global expansion of migration, within and between the global north and south, and the global resurgence and “publicisation” of religion – have combined to bring religious and secular models of citizenship and civic education to the fore.  Nonetheless, there is surprisingly little consensus among religious leaders, educators, and policy makers as to what framework might allow people from different religious and ethical backgrounds to live together tolerantly and inclusively.  The lack of consensus is all the more vexing in that migration and religious revitalization today have created multicultural and multi-ethical landscapes all over the globe.  The question of the place of religion in modern multicultural societies is not an academic one, then, but one of the most pressing ethical challenges of our age.

The conference will consider this issue from theoretical and practical perspectives:

(1)  How have global migration and the concept of multiculturalism created new challenges for the democracies of North America and Europe around understandings of citizenship, membership, democratic participation, religion in public life, and social justice?  The conference organisers encourage paper submissions for panels that would consider these questions from the perspective of law, political philosophy, and theology.

(2)  Faith-based community organizing in the inner city has become an important way for immigrants and migrants to forge community with neighbours across the boundaries of ethnicity, race, and religion on issues of economic, political, and social justice.  It is also a vehicle for citizenship formation in multicultural settings.  The conference organisers encourage paper submissions that analyse and explore the practical experience of organizing in urban settings that involve Catholic, Muslim, and secular groups.

Submission guidelines

Please submit paper proposals to Remi Kathawa at The deadline for proposals is July 1, 2013. Please limit proposals to 750 words.

Vincent Rougeau is Dean of Boston College Law School and Senior Fellow of the Contextual Theology Centre.

Canon Dr. Angus Ritchie is Director of the Contextual Theology Centre and Research Associate in Philosophy at Oxford University.

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