Negotiating Diversity

Transatlantic Exchanges Between

Canada and Europe


Zentrum für Nordamerika-Forschung (ZENAF)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität


Conference Venue:

Campus Westend, Casino, Room 1.801


Conference Opening:

Thursday, 6 pm



April 19th to 21st, 2007





Keynote Lecture by Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh


"Theorizing National Identity"


(Please click here to get more information on the Keynote Lecture and Lord Parekh)





Special Event:


A Reading with LARISSA LAI (Vancouver)

at the Franfurter PresseClub



Friday, April 20th , 2007


Saalgasse 30



(Please click here for further information on Larissa Lai and the reading)





Registration Information:


If you want to register to the conference please send an e-mail to (Subject: Conference Registration)


Conference registration rates (to be paid at the registration desk at the conference):


Students and graduate students:                       € 5


Others:                                                            € 10


The conference fee is needed to cover the costs for copies, coffee and access to the conference web page


If you register by e-mail you will get access to conference homepage where you will have access to the papers that will be presented at the conference.


ZENAF Members and those who present a paper at the conference don’t have to pay the registration fee.



Useful Informations


List of Hotels nearby the Campus Westend (Click here)


How to find the Conference Venue (Click here)


If you need any further information, please send an e-mail to the oganizer




Conference description




Against the background of globalisation and denationalisation as well as world-wide movements of migration and cultural exchanges, issues of diversity and difference have re-emerged as central for the political, social, and cultural self-conception of societies in Europe and North America. Particularly after the events of 9/11 and in the context of ‘the war on terror’, new questions and concepts of diversity concern not only individual nations, but are increasingly being discussed in the context of transnational processes of diversification and integration. After over three decades of an official policy of multiculturalism, cultural pluralism is being renegotiated in Canada; and in Europe, the process of political and cultural integration poses problems that call for a critical evaluation of models previously applied nationally and Europe-wide.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to investigate ways of thinking and negotiating diversity – cultural, political, ethnic, social – in Europe and Canada. Taking into account a long history of exchange and mutual influence, it will look at what has been and can be learned from one another. In order to do so, it brings together Canadian and European scholars from European and Canadian Studies as well as from the social sciences and Cultural Studies. While in all of these fields diversity and concepts of ‘managing difference’ have been paramount, serious transdisciplinary engagement with these questions in the context of transatlantic exchanges between Canada and Europe has been scarce.

Thus, the goal of this conference is twofold: firstly, it seeks to bring into contact previously unrelated research agendas that offer new perspectives across the disciplines and political concepts across the Atlantic; secondly and consequently, it means to bring together scholars working in these different fields to enhance transdisciplinary dialogue and, hopefully, future research cooperation and exchange.

Conference format

In order to establish this dialogue – or rather polylogue – the individual panels will not be structured around full-length papers but around two 10-minute statements and responses. Statements/abstracts will be available on the conference web site to conference participants in advance in order to increase audience participation; a publication of extended conference contributions is planned. There will be two thematic foci: “Diversity, Pluralism, and Cultural Difference” and “Citizenship, Identity, and Nation”. Each focus encompasses three panels, the first investigating the conceptualization of the topic in the social sciences and cultural studies, the second looking at how the topic reflects in social and cultural realities on both sides of the Atlantic, and the third, as a round table discussion, linking the issues in a perspective of transatlantic exchange.




Conference Schedule:




Thursday, April 19:

4-6 pm:


6-6:30 pm:

Conference Opening

6:30-8 pm:

Keynote Lecture

Bhikhu Parekh: Theorizing National Identity

8 pm:


Friday, April 20:

Focus 1: Diversity, Pluralism and Cultural Difference

10-12 am:

Panel 1: “Diversity and Cultural Difference: Approaches in Cultural Studies and the Social Sciences”
(Chair: Rainer Forst)

Dirk Hoerder:
"Rediscovering Migration and Cultural Interaction in the 'Old World': Canadian Research Approaches Reach Europe"

Ingrid Makus:
”The Politics of Recognition: Culture, Diversity and Constitutionalism”

1-3 pm:

Panel 2: “Diversity in Europe and Canada: Social Structures and Political Discourses”
Martin Saar)

Peter A. Kraus

“The Uses of Diversity in Europe – Politics and Rhetoric”

Simon Langlois:
”Nation and Citizenship in Canada: The Recent Debate”

4-6 pm:

Panel 3: Roundtable I: Including participants from the previous panels and the following presentations:

Suzanne Gallant:
”At the Mercy of Putative Majority: Difference as a ´Problem´ in Canadian Political Theory”

Andreas Krebs:
”Multiculturalism and Colonial Continuity: The Function of Disgust in the Politics of Recognition”

Allan Craigie:
”New Lessons for (and from) the Old World: A Study of the Politication of Regional identity in Nova Scotia and the North East of England”




Saturday, April 21:

Focus 2: Citizenship, Identity and Nation

9-11 am:

Panel 4: “Glocalisation? Concepts of Identity and Belonging”
(Chair: Astrid Franke)

Larissa Lai:
"Brand Canada: Oppositional Politics, Global Flows, and Myths of Origin"

Daniel Drache:
”Semiotic Disobedience and the Trans-Atlantic Habermasian Turn: Counterpublics,Social Activism and the Anti-Market Electorate”

11.30 am-1.30 pm:

Panel 5: “The Individual and the Society in Europe and Canada”
(Chair: Martin Thunert)

Susanne von Below und Lance Roberts:
”Migrants and Educational Achievement: An Exploration of Determinants of Success in Canada and Germany”

Pierre Anctil:
”Is Canada an exception ? Defining the place of the individual in the framework of Canadian multiculturalism”

2.30-4.30 pm:

Panel 6: Roundtable II: : Including participants from the previous panels and the following presentations:

Robert Sata:
”Multinational Pluralism. An Approach to Diversity and Cultural Difference”

Kartin Urschel:
”Towards Diversity within Ethnic Majorities: Deconstructing the ‘Anglo-Celt’”

Julie Spergel:
”How a Novel About Life in the Lodz Ghetto Can Be a Canadian Book”

5 pm:

Conference closing



Panel Descriptions

Focus 1: Diversity, Pluralism and Cultural Difference

Panel 1: “Diversity and Cultural Difference: Approaches in Cultural Studies and the Social Sciences”

This panel addresses the different approaches to and underlying assumptions on ‘diversity’, ‘cultural difference’, and ‘pluralism’ in Canadian and European (mainly EU) societies. Focussing on the ways in which these concepts have been formulated in Cultural Studies and the social sciences, it seeks to pinpoint what is at stake in the debate and how concepts of diversity and cultural difference have ‘travelled’ and been modified both across the disciplines and across the Atlantic.            


Panel 2: “Diversity in Europe and Canada: Social Structures and Political Discourses”

Panel 2 looks at how ‘diversity’ is embodied in social and political structures and cultural arrangements and at how understandings of cultural difference shape and are shaped by socio-cultural stratification. Like panel 1, this panel –building on comparisons between distinct societies on both sides of the Northern Atlantic – seeks to highlight transatlantic exchanges: while in panel 1 the exchange of ideas and concepts in the academy was central, this panel focuses on migration, the shifting structures of societies shaped by migration, and on the ways in which these structures were and are dealt with and reflected upon in Europe and Canada, politically, socially, economically, and culturally.


Panel 3: Roundtable I

The final panel of this section is structured as a roundtable discussion involving the participants of the previous two panels. Building directly upon the earlier discussions, this panel seeks to formulate a preliminary resume on ‘concepts’ and ‘social realities’ of diversity and cultural difference in Canada and Europe. It addresses common points of reference and mutual influences between the disciplines and across the Atlantic; shifts that have taken place in the conceptualisation of diversity and cultural difference since September 11, 2001; and political and academic strategies to address and deal with these shifts.


Focus 2: Citizenship, Identity and Nation

Panel 4: “Glocalisation? Concepts of Identity and Belonging”

Drawing on long-standing research on ‘identity’ and ‘nation’ in the social sciences and Cultural Studies as well as on older citizenship debates and their modifications since the 1990s (cultural citizenship, sexual citizenship, environmental citizenship etc.), this panel addresses how academic concepts of ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’ in the social and cultural sciences have shifted with new formulations of ‘North American Studies’ on the one hand and the study of the European integration process on the other hand. Since these shifts have taken place – with different emphases – in the social as well as in the cultural sciences, the focus here is how the questions that the various disciplines involved ask (Canadian Studies, European Studies, political and social sciences, Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies) can be set in a productive transdisciplinary dialogue.


Panel 5: “The Individual and the Society in Europe and Canada”

Looking at this section’s central concepts of ‘citizenship’, ‘identity’ and ‘nation’ in the framework of global shifts and regionalisation and their material manifestations within and across European and Canadian societies, this panel focuses on the changing relations between individual and society. While in panel 2 the question was discussed how cultural diversity and social stratification interlink in different national and transnational contexts, panel 5 looks more closely at the role of the individual as a member of different groups – cultural, social, ethnic, sexual – and at how these multiple positions are conceptualized and addressed politically in Europe and Canada.


Panel 6: Roundtable II

The question of ‘nation’ and ‘citizenship’ has gained new currency in a time of denationalisation and transnational political and economic organisations. Like panel 3, panel 6 is structured as a round-table discussion and seeks to bring together previous discussions and ask further what potential consequences may be from the observed shifts in both academic and political debates in Europe and Canada; what a transdisciplinary and transatlantic dialogue may contribute to formulating those consequences; and whether concrete processes of learning from each other can be pinpointed.