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(Mis)arguing Diversity

The Weakness of Diversity as a Civic Argument (and How to Make It Stronger)

Jose Marichal

In this article, I use Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) work on “logics of justification” to make the case that diversity, defined broadly as engagement with otherness, has limited worth as a “civic argument” in the United States. I argue that “diversity talk” has not been effective in civic spheres because it does not challenge the underlying pluralist architecture of the US political system. Instead, diversity in the civic sphere is regarded as producing conflict or an apolitical “improvement in manners” (Rorty 1999) rather than as a mechanism for citizenship development. This diminishes the ability for diversity to enhance democratic citizenship by fostering the development of a type of civic wisdom necessary for effective decision making in a democratic society.

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Liberalism's Historical Diversity

A Comparative Conceptual Exploration

José María Rosales

Rooted in late seventeenth-century theories of rights, liberal ideas have brought forth since the nineteenth century a full-edged complex of traditions in moral, political, economic, social, and legal thought. Yet in historiographical debates such complexity is often blurred by presenting it under the uniform terms of a canon. Along with other methods, conceptual history is contributing to the rediscovery of liberalism's diversity. This group of articles compiles three conceptual studies on scarcely explored aspects of the history of liberalism in Denmark, Finland, and Hungary—countries whose political past has only occasionally figured in mainstream accounts of European liberalism. This introductory article is a methodological discussion of the rationale and forms in which liberalism's historical diversity is rendered through comparative conceptual research. After reflecting on the limits of the Anglophone history of political thought to grasp the plurality of liberal traditions, the article examines how transnational conceptual histories recast the understanding of liberalism as a concept, theory, ideology, and political movement.

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Konrad Pedziwiatr

After the terrorist attacks on the London transport network on 7 July 2005 some academics and journalists announced the ‘death of multiculturalism’ in Europe. Multiculturalism, however, cannot be dead because it is a social reality for millions of Europeans. Not only these who live in the global cities like London, Paris, Rome, and others, but also those who live in small ones like the Italian City of Peace, Rovereto. All the European societies from east to west and from north to south have become increasingly diverse, multicultural, multiracial and multi-religious. This diversity is producing not only high levels of uncertainty, but also lack of social cohesion. As Putnam notices in his latest large-scale study of social solidarity in American society, in the ethnically diverse areas there is less trust and civic engagement.2 Such areas lack, above all, meaningful social encounters.

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Empire's salvage heart

Why diversity matters in the global political economy

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

What if those translations across difference that characterize global supply chains were to inspire a model of power and struggle in the contemporary political economy? In contrast to the unified Empire offered by Hardt and Negri, supply chains show us how attention to diversity-and the transformative collaborations it inspires-is key to both identifying what is wrong with the world today and imagining what we can do about it. This article describes a politics in which transformative collaborations across difference form the radical heart of possibility. Nonhumans are involved, as well as people with starkly different backgrounds and agendas. Love might be transformed.

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Franz-Xaver Kaufmann

Today, "social policy" is an expression used across the globe to denote a broad range of issues, such as old age security, health, housing and so on. But historically, "social policy" had a distinct European origin and a distinct meaning. I maintain that "social policy" and the "welfare state" are more than a list of social services, and also have strong socio-cultural underpinnings that account for the diversity of social policy. The idea of "social policy" emerged in mid-nineteenth-century Germany against the backdrop of secularization and functional differentiation of modern society. I then pinpoint the twentieth-century move from "social policy" to the broader cultural idea of a universalistic "welfare state." The idea emerged internationally as early as the 1940s, even before the post-WWII rise of national welfare states, which, as I argue, differ according to national notions of "state" and "society." To this end, I compare the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, and two non-welfare states, the United States and the Soviet Union.

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Mary N. Taylor

Since the early 1990s, language used to speak of cultural practices once thought of as "folklore" has become increasingly standardized around the term intangible heritage. Supranational intangible heritage policies promote a contradictory package that aims to preserve local identity and cultural diversity while promoting democratic values and economic development. Such efforts may contribute to the deployment of language that stresses mutual exclusivity and incommensurability, with important consequences for individual and group access to resources. This article examines these tensions with ethnographic attention to a Hungarian folk revival movement, illuminating how local histories of "heritage protection" meet with the global norm of heritage governance in complicated ways. I suggest the paradoxical predicament that both "liberal" notions of diversity and ethno-national boundaries are co-produced through a number of processes in late capitalism, most notably connected to changing relations of property and citizenship regimes.

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Cornelia Wilhelm

This article explores the changing perception of "diversity" and "cultural difference" in Germany and shows how they were central in the construction of "self" and "other" throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries affecting minorities such as Jews, Poles, and others. It examines different levels of legal and political action toward minorities and immigrants in this process and explores how the perception and legal framework for the Turkish minority in the past sixty years was influenced by historical patterns of such perceptions and their memory. The article tries to shed some light on how the nature of coming-to-terms with the past ( Vergangenheitsbewältigung ) and the memory of the Holocaust have long prohibited a broader discussion on inclusion and exclusion in German society. It makes some suggestions as to what forced Germans in the postunification era to reconsider legislation, as well as society's approach to "self" and "other" under the auspices of the closing of the "postwar period" and a newly emerging united Europe.

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Christopher Hill, Sara Silvestri and Elif Cetin

The migration crisis is analyzed here in the context of the challenges that Italy faces as a country of immigration during a period of recession. It is argued that there has been no serious debate in Italy on multiculturalism or on religious freedom, despite the growing sociocultural and religious diversity arising from population movements and international conflict. The analysis begins with the Italian government’s attempts in 2015 to deal with migration and diversity and the associated domestic conflicts at the levels of both party politics and civil society. The external dimension of Italian politics is examined in terms of Rome’s impatient calls for EU help and the weak political position of Italy in relation to the root causes of migration. After discussing the meaning of the Christian/Catholic identity of the country in its present state, the chapter concludes that Rome has little choice but to develop a more long-term view with regard to diversity and integration.

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Barbara Thériault

Cultural diversity has been one the most pressing challenges to present-

day Germany. Issues of diversity and, its corollary from the perspective

of the recipient society, the practice of toleration—as opposed

to the personal attitude of tolerance—are being paradigmatically

debated around the fate of Muslims. Although not new, Muslims

presence and public claims, such as the claim for legal recognition of

Islam and religious instruction in public schools, have undoubtedly

raised the issue of diversity anew. Some recent events, such as the

“Ludin case,” a German teacher of Afghan descent who fought the

federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg to wear a hijab in class, is a telling

example (see Beverly Weber’s article examining the case in this issue

of German Politics and Society). Similarly to the debate raging over

headscarves in France, this case seems to point to the “Muslim” as an

important figure of the stranger, understood as symbol of group

mediation, of the group’s inner and outer boundaries.1 But, unlike the

headscarf affair in France, where pupils are at the center stage of the

debate, the case of teachers in Germany bears witness to a different

type of stranger as outlined by Simmel in terms of spatial and symbolic

position within the group. Indeed, he/she is a stranger “from

within.”2 As such, Muslim growing and enduring presence in Germany

showcases practical problems encountered with the “management

of diversity” within some state institutions. Looking at the assessment of these dilemmas not only points to conflicting normative

models of social organization, but also puts in the hot seat those

who, to paraphrase Dubet, carry out le travail sur autrui (“work on the

other”), professionals activities, which aim at explicitly transforming

the “stranger.”

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David Chidester

In 2003, after more than 10 years of policy debate and public controversy, the South African minister of education announced a new policy for religion and education that distinguished between religious interests, which are best served by religious communities, and educational objectives for teaching and learning about religion, religions, and religious diversity that should be served by the curriculum of public schools. This article locates South Africa's new policy for religion and education in relation to attempts to redefine the role of the state in the transition from apartheid to democracy. The policy emerged within a new constitutional framework, which ensured freedom for religious expression and freedom from religious discrimination, but also within the context of state initiatives to affirm cultural diversity and mobilize unifying resources for social transformation. Accordingly, this article examines South Africa's policy for religion and public education as an index for understanding post-apartheid efforts in redefining the state as a constitutional, cultural, and transformative state.