Conference 2012

12-13 September 2012, Marriott Hotel, Leeds, UK

Conference Theme: How do we develop the capacity to live with difference?

This mid-project conference focused on the issue of developing new ways of living with difference in times of rapid population change and social differentiation in major European cities. It was organised around four thematic strands: ‘Theorising and Researching Difference’, ‘Encounters with Difference’, ‘Contesting Values in the Public Sphere’, and ‘Managing Difference: Socio-legal Responses’. The conference was attended by approximately 70 participants each day, who over two days worked in 14 sessions and together presented 51 papers. The papers addressed the main conference question from different temporal perspectives, e.g. how to read difference from the past and how to manage difference in the future. A range of social science disciplines were represented meaning that contibutions from a variety of perspectives were made including, for example, language and the representation of difference, and the spatial representation, distribution and experience of difference, and difference articulated and experienced at a number of scales.


Ash Amin, the first key note speaker, examined policies of intolerance towards the ‘stranger’ in multicultural Europe, Davina Cooper, the second, discussed the ‘equality clash’ between conservative Christians and minority sexualities, and Anne-Marie Fortier, the third, explored how governing strategies can help in developing people’s capacity to live with diversity. In addition, two panels addressed specific issues with regard to living with difference. On the first, an international panel gathered scholars representing different regional perspectives on how to study difference: from the United Kingdom (Sophie Watson), Central and Eastern Europe (Agata Górny), South-East Asia (Tracey Skelton) and North American (Patricia Ehrkamp) perspectives. The second panel constituted an opportunity to confront academic and users’ experiences in managing diversity with representative of Association of British Muslims (Anis Kotia), Leeds City Council (Rachael Loftus) and British Council (Jane Franklin).


Two days of discussion and debate demonstrated that there is still a need to develop inter-regional and interdisciplinary discussions on diversity studies towards greater cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences. The Living with Difference research programme aims to further contribute to the discussions in the second half of the project.


To view the delegate handbook click here: Delegate Handbook


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