Living Together 'in' Diversity. National Societies in the Multicultural Age

Open to the Public
Monday, May 21, 2012 - 9:00am
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Monday, May 21, 2012 - 9:00am to Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 7:00pm

Living together 'in' diversity. National societies in the multicultural age

Central European University, Budapest, 21-22 May 2012


Contemporary European societies have been recently characterized as having entered the age of 'super-diversity'. Migratory flows in particular have contributed to this transformation, due to the heterogeneous ethno-cultural, and religious background of present migrants, as well as their social status, age, and mobility patterns. Among the effects this transformation has brought about is the increased challenge posed to the constitutive principle of the nation-state, i.e., the assumption that identity (nation) and politics (state) can and should be mutually constituent and spatially congruent. Thus, unsurprisingly, many states have started perceiving diversity as a 'problem', potentially threatening national unity, while anti-immigration and xenophobic attitudes have experienced a rapid surge.

Existing scholarship has offered insightful critical analyses of this 'backlash against diversity', documenting the rise of repressive state measures designed to limit access of new migrants to the national territory and citizenship. Other scholars have instead moved away from the idea of the nation-state, proposing either post-national solutions, which decouple the cultural (nation) from the political (state), or transnational paradigms, which implicitly discard the focus on the nation-state as not only obsolete but also politically questionable. Yet, despite important insights from this scholarship, social and political life continues to remain largely structured by discourses, resources and institutions articulated at the national scale.


It is therefore the aim of the proposed conference to explore how 'living together in diversity' is imagined, narrated, organized, justified, and practiced within contemporary national societies. With the stress on 'in' rather than 'with' diversity we want to move away from reifying the dominant 'majority' society perspective, which assumes diversity as something 'carried' solely by immigrants and something that the 'native' society has to cope with. Some of the questions that we are interested in are:

- What makes multicultural societies circumscribed by state borders cohere together?

- What are the ways in which the nation becomes re-signified to accommodate the ethno-cultural diversity of its populace?

- How do migrants position themselves in national narratives and political structures?

- What alternative modes and models of belonging are at work within present national societies?

- In which ways does the national continue to feature as a site of attachment?

- Is it necessary to have some form of common identification at the national scale to have functioning states in the first place?

Although we acknowledge that these questions are inescapably normative in character, we particularly welcome empirically-informed work. The privileged level of analysis we are interested in is the national scale, but papers focusing on sub-national and supra-national scales can also be welcomed inasmuch as they can offer insights regarding how living together in diversity works at the national scale. Regionally, the conference will focus on Europe, but contributions discussing other geographical contexts are also welcomed.


All potential participants are invited to submit an abstract (250-300 words) to Tatiana Matejskova ( by December 31st, 2011. By January 31st, 2012 participants will be informed about the acceptance of their papers. Confirmation of participation and payment of the conference fee will be due on February 28th, 2012. The conference fee of 60 Euros will cover refreshments, lunches and conference materials.


Tariq Modood (University of Bristol)


Ezio Colombo (Università degli Studi di Milano)

Janine Dahinden (Université de Neuchâtel)

Patricia Ehrkamp (University of Kentucky)

Mary Gilmartin (NUI, Maynooth)

Elaine Ho (National University of Singapore)

Atsuko Ichijo (Kingston University, London)

Eleonore Kofman (Middlesex University, London)

Liz Mavroudi (Loughborough University)

Gill Valentine (University of Leeds)


For any further information please feel free to contact the main organizers:

Dr. Marco Antonsich

Department of International Relations and European Studies

Central European University

Nador utca, 9

1051 Budapest

Tel.: +36-1-327-3017; Fax: +36-1-327-3243


Dr. Tatiana Matejskova

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Central European University

Zrinyi utca, 14

1051, Budapest

Tel: +36-1-327-3000/2327; Fax: +36-1-328-3501