CfP: Conference on Cultural Diversity & Liberal Democracy, York

Cultural Diversity & Liberal Democracy: Models, Policies and Practice

Cultural diversity, and its implications, constitutes a fundamental
challenge to contemporary liberal democracy.  Historically, liberal
democracy’s adherents have championed tolerance and openness.  Yet, as
diversity becomes more complex and the demands of cultural minorities
for recognition and accommodation become more intense, so there is
increasing debate as to the appropriate response.  By which principles
and through which measures can, and should, the demands of cultural
minorities be met? Has multiculturalism proven to be an effective and,
within the ideals of liberal democracy, legitimate formula for doing so?
Do other formulae (such as interculturalism or plurinational
federalism) offer more promise? Are different formulae appropriate for
different situations?  Should diversity be embraced and encouraged as a
value in itself? Conversely, should liberal democratic institutions,
given their very nature, avoid any attempt to accommodate cultural

While these questions have long been the subject of academic discourse
and debate, they have acquired a new urgency in most liberal democratic
polities. Public debate over the implications of cultural diversity has
become polarized and divisive.  Economic crisis, austerity policies and
international   security threats have helped to create a new political
climate which is critical of immigration, calls for firmer measures to
integrate immigrants, and is less disposed to recognize and accommodate
minority cultures.

Clearly, the time has come to take a new look at the implications of
cultural diversity for liberal democracy. Accordingly, the Glendon
School of Public & International Affairs (GSPIA) is organizing a two day
conference entitled ‘Cultural Diversity and Liberal Democracy: Models,
Policies and Practice’. The conference is scheduled to take place April
19‐20, 2016.

Invitations to give keynote addresses have been accepted by David Miller
(Oxford University) and Alan Patten (Princeton University). Other
invitations are pending.

Scholars, researchers and practitioners are invited to propose
presentations for the conference. Proposals will be considered on a wide
variety of topics bearing upon the theme of the conference including:
•    critiques, defenses and reformulations of multiculturalism
•    alternative approaches to accommodation of cultural minorities
•    Feminism and multiculturalism
•    Relationship between cultural diversity and social and economic
•    Conflicts between diversity and redistribution
•    Impact of international security concerns of cultural minorities
•    Multinational or plurinational arrangements
•    Competing claims of national minorities and immigrant populations
•    ‘Civic integration’ policies, as implemented in Western Europe
•    Religious demands and liberal democratic values
•    Recognition of language rights
•    Integration of immigrants, including: first contact on arrival,
community services, and government measures
•    Geographical patterns of diversity and policies that facilitate or
prevent the (re)production of these patterns
•    The impact of court decisions on policy‐making

Presentations can be made in either English or French (simultaneous
interpretation will be available). While the GSPIA cannot commit to
provide travel funding, it will endeavour to secure at least partial
funding for submissions that are selected. For this purpose, submissions
should be received by October 1, 2015.

The School is the ideal setting for this event. Located on a secluded
and picturesque campus in the heart of Toronto, Canada’s largest and
most cosmopolitan city, The School draws together more than twenty
scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the social science and
humanities.  All its activities take place in Canada’s two official
languages, as will the proposed conference.  The School is housed in
Glendon College, a liberal arts college of 3,000 students, which is part
of York University. The historical mission and general ambience of the
Glendon campus are especially conducive to wide‐ranging explorations of
contemporary issues.
Submissions and queries can be directed to: Kenneth McRoberts
Director and Professor
Glendon School of Public & International Affairs Glendon Campus, York
2275 Bayview, Toronto ON M4N 3M6 kmcroberts