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Maria-Amelia Viteri and Aaron Tobler

This article illustrates the multiple ways in which anthropology graduate students crossed the boundaries of educational discourses by encouraging themselves, other students, activists and community leaders to speak in dialogical contexts (Giroux 2005: 73). They did this through the organisation of the Interrogating Diversity Conference. The authors organised this conference in March 2007 at the American University, Washington, DC, to expand scholarship on surveillance and policing in an egalitarian forum. We discuss how students can engage their departments and faculty in building the students' knowledge of both anthropological theories and methodology through shared scholarship. We show how students can 'apply' anthropology to audiences, which will in turn influence policy decision making. In addition, the authors explore how academics can transform knowledge sharing into tools that shape broader political and social dialogue.

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The Human Rights Dialogue

Foundationalism Reconsidered

Maria Granik

In this article, I defend the need for meaningful dialogue about the foundations of human rights. The article consists of four main parts. Part I provides context for the argument by discussing the status of foundations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and several other human rights legal instruments. Part II outlines the main criticisms of foundationalism by Michael Ignatieff and Richard Rorty. Part III deals with two main problems raised by anti-foundationalist positions. First, the motivation to defend and implement human rights is often tied to a rational understanding of why these rights are worthy of protection. Second, rejecting the search for rational foundations can itself lead to ideological problems, even if this search cannot ultimately succeed. Silence concerning justifications for rights informs our conversation about them, and making any concealed underlying assumptions explicit can be valuable. Finally, Part IV discusses ways in which a genuinely dialogical foundationalism can be possible - one that does not fall into the trap of dogmatism. More specifically, this section addresses the possibility of a secular foundationalism by examining Michael Perry's critique of this approach.

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Ruth Friedman

In 2005, CEJI – a Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe – began an initiative to promote dialogue and understanding between Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, and to enhance the visibility of already existing dialogue projects. The endeavour began with a series of national reports, was marked by a European conference of seventy people in April 2007, and culminated in the establishment of a European Platform for Jewish Muslim Co-operation.

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Paul R. Mendes-Flohr

This article challenges the view that religious tolerance is promoted by affirming what the respective faith communities have in common. Rather, it proposes that genuine interfaith dialogue acknowledges difference and celebrates our distinctive paths to the life of the spirit as refracting our shared humanity.

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Outcomes of Interreligious Dialogue

An Example from Bielefeld – Bethel

Jutta Beldermann

Bethel is a Christian organization in Germany which provides assistance, especially for people with mental illnesses and epilepsy. Many service users and employees are members of Christian churches. But there is also an increasing number of non-Christian service users and employees. Bethel faces this challenge by acquisition of intercultural competencies, strengthening of Christian identity and at the same time intensifying interreligious dialogue and identifying the responsibility for the Christian identity of Bethel as part of the organizational structure.

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Lionel Blue

The three essays collected here are occasional pieces Lionel Blue contributed to the magazine Manna, The Forum for Progressive Judaism, edited by Rabbi Tony Bayfield. They address: his experience visiting monasteries and convents, his observations and what he gained from them; the changing stages in Jewish-Christian dialogue and what the next steps might be; the paradoxes of religion and the temptations of idolatry.

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Faltering dialogue?

For a doubly rooted cosmopolitan anthropology

Chris Hann

Both inside and outside Europe, many societies have drawn on their own textual traditions to generate bodies of knowledge possessing some affinity to comparative socio-cultural anthropology. The premise of this article is that even where the focus is restricted to one country or one nationality, such “national ethnography“ should be considered as a legitimate branch of a broadly conceived anthropological field, rather than belittled or denigrated. Under socialism, both native and foreign researchers carried out fieldwork in similar rural locations in Hungary. A dialogue began, but it seems to have weakened in recent years, despite the fact that access to the region has become incomparably easier. Another change is that Hungarian students are now able to study socio-cultural anthropology as a seperate program in a separate faculty, distinct from Hungarian néprajz. This article is critical of such developments and takes the Hungarian example to argue for the benefits of institutional unification. The resulting department would be larger and more cosmopolitan than the old departments of néprajz, but it would retain its local roots. The integration of “national ethnography“ into research and teaching programs in anthropology would facilitate the persistence of distinctive national, regional, and institution-specific intellectual traditions; such departments could also facilitate the work of fieldworkers from abroad.

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Roland Axtmann

The notion of cultural plurality and the idea of intercultural dialogue have been central to the discussion of cosmopolitanism in both political philosophy and social theory. This point is developed in an exposition of the arguments put forward by Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt and through a critical engagement with Ulrich Beck's social theory of cosmopolitanism as a “social reality.“ It is argued that Beck's analysis fails to convince as a sociological extension of a long philosophical tradition and that instead of Beck's macrostructural analysis it is more promising to formulate an actor-centred sociological theory on the transnationalization of social spaces and the formation of a “cosmopolitan“ consciousness or awareness of transnational actors.

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Lionel Blue

In this article Lionel Blue recalls his introduction to the UK Reform Jewish movement, at the time the ‘Association of Synagogues of Great Britain’. His work with the youth groups coincided with a pioneering engagement with a post-war German generation, something considered problematical at the time, and similarly the beginning of a Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue. The movement at the time increased its support for Israel and joined with the American Reform Jewish movement in the World Union for Progressive Judaism both of which had their influence on its development. But missing were important spiritual questions: Did God still exist for us and how; Where did we locate Him in the horror of the Holocaust? Despite criticisms of some developments of the movement, what remains important is the friendliness, care and concern of the members, its humanity and preferring people as they are to ideological templates.

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Jonathan Magonet

The radical changes in attitudes of the Catholic Church to the Jewish people brought about by Nostra Aetate can only be welcomed. This latest document, ‘The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable’, continues the process but raises questions as to how far Jews can recognize themselves in these attempts at a new theological interpretation of Judaism. For example, the document argues that for Christians the ‘New Covenant’ ‘can only be understood as the affirmation and fulfilment of the “Old”’. Yet by defining the ‘Old’ as the ‘Abrahamic Covenant’ alone, it fails to recognize that it is the ‘Sinai Covenant’ that is an essential part of Jewish self-understanding. The document indicates how much further the process of mutual understanding needs to be explored by both partners in this dialogue.