On Super-diversity by Tariq Ramadan
Witte de With Publishers & Sternberg Press
30 January 2012
Book launch with discussion between Tariq Ramadan and Willem Schinkel, respondent Wendelien van Oldenborgh; preceded by projection of Van Oldenborgh’s slide work Supposing I love you. And you also love me., 2011, featuring Tariq Ramadan.
One of the greatest challenges for art and culture, sounded by intellectuals and also by funding bodies, is to represent diversity. But what precisely does this term mean and why does it so often placate rather than produce what it names? Prof. Steven Vertovec, Director of the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany) puts forward the notion of “super-diversity,” noting “the need to re-evaluate conceptions and policy measures surrounding diversity by way of moving beyond an ethno-focal understanding and adopting a multidimensional approach.”
Developing this idea further, while aiming to question and complicate the focus on immigration in the current debate, the prolific and provocative scholar and activist Tariq Ramadan weighs in on the subject. In the resulting essay, translated into Dutch and Arabic, Prof. Ramadan sets out an argument that foregrounds universalism as a necessary, if de-valued, horizon and offers a critique of the uses and limits of dialogue and discourse within the day to day practice of super-diversity.
Prof. Ramadan has a unique history of engagement in the politics of diversity, as Chair of Identity and Citizenship at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and as a special advisor on integration to the city council, until his controversial dismissal from both posts in August 2009. Among his numerous academic and advisory roles, he is also Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University and President of the European Muslim Network, a think-tank in Brussels. Recent publications include L’islam et le réveil arabe (Presses du Châtelet, 2011), The Quest for Meaning, Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism (Allen Lane, 2010), What I Believe (Oxford University Press, 2009), Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (Oxford University Press, 2009), and Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity (Islamic Foundation, 2009).
Video and text courtesy of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam.