CFP: Spotlight on Multiculturalism

Submission deadline: January 10, 2012

Conference date(s):
May 3, 2012 - May 5, 2012

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Conference Venue:

Birmingham Branch, Dialogue Society
İstanbul, Turkey

Topic areas


The great power and machinery of state exercised on the basis of racial and cultural superiorty can have savage consequences: in the world this became undeniable only after the horrors of the Nazi regime (many of whose victims were Europeans) were publicised. Imperial territories, held on the basis of racial and cultural superiority, were allowed to become new, “independent” nations. Then, to meet demands for labour after the World War, European countries encouraged immigration from former colonies: the empires came home to a degree never imagined or prepared for. There was also large-scale immigration from non-colonies, like that of Turks to Germany. When it became obvious that the immigrants had settled, the discourse of multiculturalism developed in Europe as it had in North America – namely, as a well-meaning effort to ensure that minorities were treated as equal under the law and that society affirmed their human dignity as expressed in their religious, cultural and linguistic identity.

This well-meaning policy was a significant departure for the nation-states of Europe, whose formation was typically a story of repression or marginalisation of cultural and linguistic identities in favour of decisive political identification with the state and acceptance of the norms (especially language) of the dominant community. Nevertheless, through the 1970s into the 1990s multiculturalism achieved major objectives like reducing racial discrimination, improving prospects for local or devolved legislatures, etc. But the fear persisted that the loyalty to the state of “other” communities is unreliable, a potential “enemy within”. The political extreme right had always denounced multiculturalism as a betrayal or surrender of so-called “European values”. Then, through the years since 2001, when the Muslims’ image problem intensified, it became acceptable for elites in the political mainstream also to denounce multiculturalism as a failure.

Over the same period multiculturalism has engendered an academic as well as political debate. It is no longer understood just as a way to cope with socio-cultural diversity within a single political jurisdiction. The new technologies of travel and communication have meant that culturally distant communities are thrust into neighbourhood, actual and virtual. People are able to move in and out of diverse “neighbourhoods”; and for each they may nurture and deploy a different dimension of their identity. Thus, the concept of multiculturalism now embraces – beyond the issues of situating minorities politically and securing their rights – individual, personal domains of being and meaning.

The personal concerns and practical issues that multiculturalism now deals with mean that it has become a far more vigorously interdisiciplinary field. Sociology, ethnography, cultural anthropology, anthropology of law, urban geography, transnational geography, international and comparative law are some of the specialisms that are interconnecting and interacting to evolve a positive direction for multiculturalism. From a concern to correct abuses against minorities, multiculturalism may grow into a concern to enable social spaces in which cultural hybridity is positively welcomed and sustainable, where the reality of multiple identities for communities as well as for individuals can be legally and politically safeguarded.

The Dialogue Society, Birmingham Branch, in collaboration with Keele University and Fatih University, invites scholars and practitioners (hereinafter ‘authors’) willing to share their ideas and experience to take part in a Workshop in Istanbul to discuss the past and future of multiculturalism. The Workshop is particularly interested in multiculturalism in Britain and Europe. Papers that relate to theories, policies and practices outside of Europe are also welcome so far as they can be related to Britain and/or a European country.


The Dialogue Society will pay all the costs of accommodation and board, and transfers, and there is no registration fee for participants in the Workshop. However, authors are expected to pay the costs of their flight to and from Turkey (currently about £200).


Within six months of the event, a book will be produced and published by the Dialogue Society, comprising some or all of the papers presented at the Workshop. The papers will be arranged and introduced, and to the extent appropriate, edited, by scholar(s) to be appointed by the Editorial Board.

Copyright of the papers accepted to the Workshop will be vested in the Dialogue Society.


Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

Authors are invited to send abstracts (maximum 300 words) of their papers on themes of their own choosing, which may include (by way of example only):

Multiculturalism: Basics

  • Multiculturalism and race relations
  • Multiculturalism and groups identified by faith-based traditions
  • Multiculturalism and the impact of public policy (education, health, employment)
  • Multiculturalism and issues related to gender equality

Multiculturalism: Practice

  • The feasibility and relevance of multiple legal frameworks
  • The problem of extremisms of left and right
  • The many dimensions of activism (state; civil society; media; individuals)
  • Future prospects: possible new directions for multiculturalism

The Workshop is partciularly interested in multiculturalism in Britain and Europe. Papers that relate to theories, policies and practices outside of Europe are also welcome so far as they can be related to Britain and/or a European country.

Selection Criteria

The Editorial Board welcome abstracts alike from academics in the many relevant disciplines, practitioners working with statutory or voluntary bodies, and independent researchers or writers working on topics relevant to the Workshop.

Since the Workshop expects to address a broad range of topics while the number of participants has to be limited, writers submitting abstracts are requested to bear in mind the need to ensure that their language is technical only where absolutely necessary and intelligible to non-specialists and specialists in disciplines other than their own; and present clear, coherent arguments in a rational way and in accordance with the usual standards and format for publishable work.

Schedule for Submissions

  • Abstracts (200–300 words maximum) and CVs (maximum of 2 pages, including any personal statement and/or listing of publications or work experience) to be received by 10th January 2012.
  • Abstracts to be short-listed by the Editorial Board and papers invited by 30th January 2012.
  • Papers (3,000 words minimum – 5,000 words maximum, excluding bibliography) to be received by 10th March 2012.
  • Papers reviewed by the Editorial Board and classed as: Accepted – No Recommendations; Accepted – See Recommendations; Conditional Acceptance – See Recommendations; Not Accepted.
  • Final papers to be received by 1st April 2012.

Seref Kavak
Dialogue Society Birmingham Branch Academic Coordinator
Email: [email protected]

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