Towards a Democratic Cosmopolis: Diaspora, Citizenship & Recognition

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22-24 October 2009

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The conference Towards a Democratic Cosmopolis: Diaspora, Citizenship, and Recognition will provide a unique opportunity to understand the emerging cosmopolitan reality that is contemporary Toronto – the region encompassed by the modern geo-political entity known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Over time this area has attracted a very large number of migrants and immigrants in search of better economic, political and cultural conditions and it continues to serve as the site for the relocation experiences of various peoples from a wide range of different social, cultural, religious, political and other backgrounds. The outcomes of migrations and immigrations in the GTA are essential for contextualizing discussions of citizenship, recognition, and identity in the broader environment of resettlement and to this end and in an interdisciplinary environment the conference will bring together members of various ethnocultural groups in the GTA, students, and scholars.

Towards a Democratic Cosmopolis will address our understanding of the relocation process of these groups in the context of citizenship (both national and global), pluralism, and diasporas to determine how best to encourage the social values inherent in democratic cosmopolitanism.

Citizenship can be understood as the participation of members of diaspora groups not only in their communities but also in institutional and other environments that exist beyond the group level. One of the questions to be addressed by the conference is the extent to which members of resettled groups – both migrants/immigrants as well as their descendants – feel they are part of a larger community (as Canadians) in electoral participation as well as other aspects of exercising citizenship. Furthermore, do those resettled in the GTA shape their identities and experience recognition as citizens in terms of a sense of “place” and belonging or does a form of global citizenship arise as a consequence of multicentred diasporas and does it need to be integrated into our understanding of an emerging cosmopolitanism?

What kinds of multicultural identities have been formed, how connected are they to each other within a community of origin and resettlement and how do they see themselves as fitting into a larger community? Do ethnocultural groups feel they are recognized? Does settlement and life in the GTA help them in terms of available ethnic spaces and places and do broader societal values of a cosmopolitan nature promote a sense of belonging and inclusion?

The conference will stimulate interdisciplinary intellectual and professional interaction and promote ongoing research interests and collaboration for those trying to understand how citizenship and identity come together in a very large metropolitan area. The conference will consider contemporary and historical aspects of the diasporas of groups in the GTA including Jews, Muslims, Africans, Italians, and many others who have migrated for a variety of reasons including economic opportunity, political (and other) persecution and so forth. Contributors to the conference are encouraged to submit their papers for publication in a volume that will be a unique contribution to the growing field of diversity studies and the challenges of building inclusive societies.