Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

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Secularism, The Secular State and Religious Diversity

The Secularism, The Secular State and Religious Diversity workshop has resulted in the following forthcoming publication:  

Berman, Bruce, Rajeev Bhargava and André Laliberté (eds.) The State and Religious Diversity  UBC Press forthcoming


October 31 - November 2, 2008

University of Ottawa

  • Co-organizers: André Laliberté (University of Ottawa) and Rajeev Bhargava (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, India)

Religious diversity is a dimension of ethnic diversity that has yet to receive its due share of attention despite the fact that the costs of failure to accommodate this diversity are widely recognized. One of the premises of this workshop is that the diversity of religions in modern societies represent a major challenge to democratic societies because the context of globalization, far from questioning the plausibility of religious beliefs, transforms their modes of reproduction and increases their visibility on the public sphere. Do the institutions of the secular state, set in place to manage religious diversity in the West, face challenges in the post-colonial world as both inadequate and a source of cultural oppression? In particular, the workshop seeks to examine whether the mechanisms used to manage religious pluralism in contemporary societies are merely tools to reproduce a western secular model of governance insensitive to local knowledge, whether the critiques of the secular state as an "oppressive form of state" represent the articulation of political discourse of exclusionary religious majorities, and to what extent democratic societies are more capable than authoritarian regimes in accommodating diversity of world-views. It will also attempt to understand why religious institutions are currently reacting with such hostility to secular modernity and to the efforts of secular states to deal with religious diversity.