Opening Communities to Newcomers: Cosmopolitanism, Solidarity Activism and Cultural Connections Workshop

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Photo credit: Kim Rygiel/BSIA

In recent years, xenophobic right wing and populist movements have emerged and strengthened across Europe and North America. While many governments are struggling to accommodate growing pluralism within this context, a variety of civil society initiatives have also emerged, motivated by the desire to welcome newcomers. For example, movements such as Germany’s Welcome Culture (Willkommenskultur), Denmark’s Kind Citizens (Venligboerne), and other, smaller-scale initiatives have demonstrated creativity in fostering pluralism in environments largely hostile to difference. In Turkey, a country hosting 3.7 million Syrians, civil society initiatives have also arisen, with the aim of helping integrate these refugees.

This workshop, organized by Dr. Kim Rygiel (Wilfrid Laurier University/BSIA) and Dr. Feyzi Baban (Trent University), brings together academics, artists and civil society groups from across Europe and North America interested in fostering pluralism and opening communities to newcomers. The workshop focuses on understanding why, how and under what conditions some communities are more open to cultural differences than others and what types of projects facilitate openness to newcomers. Here, the arts play an important role. Participants will reflect on conceptual issues such as cosmopolitanism and solidarity and on how civil society initiatives, particularly using the arts, provide alternative sites from which to challenge notions of who belongs within the community and ways of fostering living together.

The workshop includes 3 events open to the public in honor of Waterloo Region’s celebration of World Refugee Day:
June 5th Arts evening
June 6th Documentary screening of In the Dark Times – A Culture in Exile followed by Q & A with filmmakers, Thomas Büsch and Sabine Küper- Büsch
• June 7th Roundtable: Local Organizing in The Waterloo Region: Making Communities Welcoming for Newcomers

The workshop made possible with the support of funding from the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
the Balsillie School of International Affairs;
Wilfrid Laurier and Trent Universities;
Laurier’s International Migration Research Centre
and Sabancı University’s Istanbul Policy Centre.

If you would like to be involved, please contact Kim Rygiel [email protected]

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