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Conference: Living together 'in' diversity. National societies in the multicultural age. CEU 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
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

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


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