Introducing ACI Indonesia

After a careful process of selecting the core research team, the Contending Modernities Authority, Community, and Identity (ACI) working group on Indonesia formally launched last year to begin a three-year research project to better understand the complex issues facing plural societies and to foster possible collaborations among various actors, religious and secular, at different levels: local and global, individuals and communities. Read the full article »

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The Un-Dutchable Challenge of Pluralism

In recent years pluralist co-existence has been pushed to the center of political and social discussion in the Netherlands, as once “received” understandings of integration, including various models of multiculturalism, are called into question. For Dutch society, otherwise known for its pragmatism and tolerance, the path forward to a more effective pluralist co-existence remains uncertain. Read the full article »

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Struggling to Mieux Vivre Ensemble: The Sobering Reality of France’s new Plurality

2015 was a devastating year for France. The horrific Paris attacks of January and November gave rise to a climate of fear, suspicion, and social distrust, and present formidable and as of yet unresolved challenges for leaders and social actors to find new and more effective strategies to mieux vivre ensemble (live better together). Read the full article »

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The New Western Plurality and Citizen Co-Existence

Over the past generation the unprecedented expansion of migration to Western countries has coincided with the global revitalization of religion. These two developments have raised deep questions about received values and practices of pluralist co-existence in Western societies—questions that are likely to remain at the heart of political and social debate in Western societies for some years to come. Read the full article »

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Local ‘Political Friendships’: The Key to Making Multiculturalism Work

The business of creating a more practical multiculturalism and overcoming the challenges presented by diversity is more complex than it first seems. My research set out to investigate how projects in the UK are bringing diverse groups together and forming what Harvard scholar Danielle Allen has called ‘political friendships’ across difference. Dialogue is all very well, but without tangible common action it is hard to create any sense of shared destiny. The future success of multiculturalism will not be won by lofty new theories or more debates on national identity, but by encouraging real relationships at a grass roots level between people of every background and belief. Read the full article »

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Community Organising and Congregating Values

The experiences of Christian, Muslim and Secular leaders involved in Community Organising in East London highlight the importance of learning from and accepting otherness. Although they have differing worldviews, they are able to compromise and work together for the common good in their community. However, the congregating of these values is not without its compromise and tension. Read the full article »

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The New Cosmopolitanism: Global Migration and the Building of a Common Life

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. Read the full article »

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Community Organising in London’s Congolese Diaspora

Community organising has significant potential for redressing low levels of democratic participation – through processes which actively engage citizens, encourage integration, and allow the voices of all individuals to be heard at local, national and international levels. My experience of engaging members of London’s Congolese diaspora in community organising has highlighted the increasing demand for both intentional processes of integration, and the opening of spaces within which citizens can actively engage in public life. Read the full article »

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Global Migration and the New Cosmopolitanism: New Reports, Workshop, and Film

The ambition of Contending Modernities is to bring academic research into dialogue with policy-making and grassroots practice. Its east London research project – with the Contextual Theology Centre (CTC) – is focused on the ways that community organising enables diverse communities to work together to discern and promote a common good. As well as producing research papers, it is generating a number of resources for the wider community.

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The Theistic Meaning of Morality

An exciting feature of the Contending Modernities project is the way it links the academic with the deeply practical. In east London, the project has enabled us to develop new resources for Muslim engagement in public life — something I blogged about back in August. And we are currently conducting wider research on the way faiths work together to discern and promote the common good. It is also helping us to look at some apparently very abstract issues — including the relationship between morality and metaphysics — and show their relevance to the debates around faith in public life. Read the full article »

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