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Sustainable cultural and religious diversity

Contact University of Deusto for this project

Maria Luisa Setién
Coordinator of the research unit on Present Social Challenges Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology
University of Deusto
Avda. Universidades, 24
48007 - Bilbao - Spain
Phone: +34 94 4139323
Fax: +34 94 4139378

Contact Tilburg University for this project

Prof. Guus Extra
Director of Babylon, Centre for Studies of the Multicultural Society
guus.extra@uvt.nl www.tilburguniversity.nl/babylon

University of Deusto

This theme gathers a number of research teams which has a significant history at the University of Deusto. The oldest line corresponds to the interdisciplinary group on migration, diversity and identities that since 1996 has developed a line of publications and a joint Doctoral programme with several European Universities -Poitiers, Bamberg, Liege, Amsterdam, Bradford, Helsinki and Dublin. With the creation of the Research Networks of Excellence (NoE), UD and part of the group became part of IMISCOE - International Migration and Social Cohesion in Europe led by Amsterdam. The rest became EDMIDI continuing publications and projects along the time of diversity and social cohesion.

Three years ago a new group got off the ground on religion, modern society and politics. The four professors who compose it belong to the faculty of Sociology and their research interests include political philosophy, sociology of religion and law. During the last three years they have worked with EHSS of Paris, Roma Tre, CLAEH of Montevideo, UBA from Buenos Aires and PUCP from Perú) on a project of laicism and high modernity in Latin America and Europe. They have had six seminars Re-thinking modernity; Theories, concepts and methods; Catholicism; Public space and religion; Religion and politics and Pluralism and religion. The first three have been published and the others are in the process of being published.

Another focal point gathers round the Faculty of Theology with three lines of research on the reconfiguration of Christianity with a group of six professors and postdoctoral researchers along the lines of the nature and relevance of early Christianity for present society and the understanding of belief in relation to personal and network dimensions in the European social context.

There is a second interdisciplinary line of research, involving five teaching staff members from Faculties of Theology, Philosophy and Anthropology. This focuses on religious dimensions and cultural encounters and analyses the reactions, crisis, syncretism, social movements, adaptations and changes in the intercultural encounters. Particularly they study how migrations and globalisation impact on diverse forms of religions and the religious dimension of cultures. This group has a more anthropological approach to the themes although it is also multidisciplinary.

Finally a group of four researches from IMISCOE and the Institute of Human Rights plus four doctoral students are preparing a map of religions and migrations. The more descriptive work showing the impact of migrations is linked to a more analytical study which is moves to more theoretical aspects of human rights and the rights of minorities to end in again issues of concrete nature of strategic and managerial concerns at different levels of organization.

With external financial backing, the group is coming together in an attempt to analyse the main political and cultural challenges brought about by the increasing religions diversity on the basis of the construction of a society which is cohesive, inclusive and plural. In the framework of a democratic and developed society, the interest concentrates on the real search of human rights when collective identities of religious nature need to articulate with their belonging to a political community. The focal point of the research is on the need to manage religious diversity as a necessary characteristic of present and future European society.

These groups have come together and discussed the opportunity of linking forces and develop an articulated team of about 30 people. This group will gather round the issue of sustainable cultural and religious diversity and discussed with the Tilburg group the convenience of linking forces in particular instances or acting in more independent basis according to the convenience of the topic. It is evident that the issue is of high importance for Europe and that it has different stands which could be more or less focal depending on the need.

Both Julia González and Maria Luisa Setien have been asked to coordinate the connection with Tilburg in the first instance. All the groups are ready and willing for coordination and they would welcome joint projects or joint work providing they can finalize the commitments they have undertaken. Importance is given to see the trend which the Tilburg group will take in the issue and which is the best team to participate in the venture. A more detail analyses of the characteristics of the Deusto¿s teams could be carried out; alternatively a joint work could also be envisaged, either by two or more groups depending on interests and volume required.

Tilburg University

This key theme includes multilingualism, multiculturalism, religious pluralism and the organisation of cultural diversity in the context of contemporary globalisation processes. These new and intense processes of flow, mobility and change prompt theoretical and methodological innovation and the reformulation of critical social issues. In particular, they compel researchers to work across disciplinary boundaries in order to address the highly complex and multifaceted nature of such processes, in which we see a continuous interaction between ¿hard¿ globalisation (economic and political) and ¿soft¿ globalisation (cultural, linguistic, religious, educational).

Relevance to future of European societies
As a consequence of processes of globalisation, international migration and intergenerational minorisation, Europe is becoming a much more diverse constellation of nation-states than it was already in the past. In this changing context, comparative studies of increasingly multicultural societies are of utmost relevance. This holds both at the European and global level, in particular for countries with a longer history of the above mentioned processes.
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