Public Commissions on Cultural and Religious Diversity
National Narratives, Multiple Identities and Minorities
In several Western countries, expert commissions composed of academics, public figures, politicians and community organisers have been established by governments or civil society to reflect on the changes and challenges of an increasingly plural society. Commission recommendations on how to ‘manage’ diversities successfully have shaped national narratives and affected law and public policies, yet research on the workings of such commissions remains rare.
This book focuses on the experiences of expert commissions in the UK, France, Quebec and Belgium. Furthering the debate on commissions’ potential and limitations it draws on the first-hand experiences and introspection of former commission members and close observers, along with outside perspectives and critique from independent scholars.
Building on its companion volume (Public Commissions on Cultural and Religious Diversity: Analysis, Reception and Challenges), this book engages with core concepts of identity, nationality, citizenship, freedom, equality and accommodation. It will appeal to researchers and students of public policy, sociology, anthropology, law, religion, politics, history and migration studies, as well as policymakers and anyone with a general interest in current debates on ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction. A Retrospective on Diversity Commissions: From Set-Up and Working Methods to Impacting Policy Part I 2 Pointing to a Multicultural Future: Rethinking Race, Ethnicity, Religion and Britishness 3 National Identities and the ‘Parekh Report’ 4 British Multiculturalism: From ‘Parekh’ to ‘PREVENT’, and Beyond 5 ‘Religion, Belief and Diversity in Transition: The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life’ Part II 6 Laicité is a most liberal legal frame: reflections on the work on of the Stasi Commission 7 Retrospective on the French Stasi Commission 8 Theoretical Perspectives of Cultural and Religious Diversity in Two National Reports Part III 9 The Bouchard-Taylor Commission and Beyond. Cultural and Religious Diversity in Quebec 10 Cohesive Fear: A Comment on Maclure and Lacroix Part IV 11 The Round Tables on Interculturalism: A Successful or Unsuccessful Experiment in Deliberative Democracy? 12 Religious and Cultural Diversity in Belgium: Finding the Common Denominator 13 ‘Making a difference’: Dialogue and compromise in the Belgian Federal Round Tables of Interculturalism Part V 14 Religion in the Retreat of Multiculturalism 15 Religion, Culture and Liberal Democracy: The Issue of Majority Cultural Precedence 16 The European Court of Human Rights: Fundamental Assumptions that have a Chilling Effect on the Protection of Religious Diversity 17 Charting Perspectives, Positions and Recommendations in Four Commission Reports: Reasonable Accommodation for Religion or Belief as Barometer
Katayoun Alidadi is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany.
Marie-Claire Foblets is Director of the Department of Law and Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany and Professor of Law at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
"The challenges faced by societies undergoing significant processes of internal diversification have been studied at great length in recent decades by philosophers, jurists, political scientists, and others. Despite the great scholarly attention that diversity issues have received in the academy, there has been comparatively little academic focus on the commissions that many states have set up to deal with these issues politically. This volume fills this gap, and does so by bringing together leading scholars in the area of religious and ethno-cultural diversity, many of whom have played important roles in their own state's national commissions. The essays are uniformly excellent, and will be a must-read for students of the politics of national diversity". - Professor Daniel Weinstock, Faculty of Law, McGill University.
"This book contains a fascinating collection of contributions regarding expert commissions instituted in the UK, France, Quebec and Belgium to reflect on the challenges posed by increasing cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.What impact do or can they have on shaping debates and narratives? What are the potential and limitations of this type of commission in helping contemporary western societies address the challenges they face in terms of multicultural diversity? And most importantly perhaps: what source of inspiration can they provide in this respect? … a highly recommended read for anyone interested in understanding the current debates on cultural, religious and ethnic pluralism in contemporary western societies." - Professor M.L.P. Loenen, Leiden University
"This volume on the experiences of expert diversity commissions in the UK, France, Quebec and Belgium, brings timely insights to debates on how societies should manage and respond to the tensions that can arise from cultural and religious diversity. The chapters explore the political and legal contexts in which the commissions have worked, including the controversies that they have tackled, and their sometimes critical or even hostile public reception. The collection is distinctive in providing commentary on the role of commissions from ‘outsiders’, who approach the topic from an academic and critical perspective, as well as unique insights from the first-hand experience of members of the commissions themselves. The contributors are leading voices in debates on religious and cultural diversity, and they provide expert commentary on the four diversity commissions, as well as offering lively and at times competing accounts of how to achieve greater social cohesion. The result is a fascinating account and critique of the role of expert commissions in developing societal responses to diversity." - Professor Lucy Vickers, Oxford Brookes University
"In the vast literature on the management of cultural diversity, this book stands out for drawing attention on a neglected phenomenon: the growing tendency, within liberal democracies, to set up expert commissions to reflect upon and propose solutions to challenges raised by the religious and cultural diversity of the society. Through a comparative study of four commissions of the sort created in different national settings, it offers a fascinating discussion not only of the substance of the proposals made in these different contexts, but also on the political process through which they were made and how they were received in the society at stake. Ultimately, this book provides a highly original and valuable contribution to the reflection on how contemporary democracies deal with diversity." - Professor Julie Ringelheim, University of Louvain, Belgium