Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity


Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity


By Lori G. Beaman

Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 15, 2017)

While religious conflict receives plenty of attention, the everyday negotiation of religious diversity does not. Questions of how to accommodate religious minorities and of the limits of tolerance resonate in a variety of contexts and have become central preoccupations for many Western democracies. What might we see if we turned our attention to the positive narratives and success stories of the everyday working out of religious difference? Rather than “tolerance” and “accommodation,” and through the stories of ordinary people, this book traces deep equality, which is found in the respect, humor, and friendship of seemingly mundane interactions.

Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity shows that the telling of such stories can create an alternative narrative to that of diversity as a problem to be solved. It explores the non-event, or micro-processes of interaction that constitute the foundation for deep equality and the conditions under which deep equality emerges, exists, and sometimes flourishes.

Through a systematic search for and examination of such narratives, Lori G. Beaman demonstrates the possibility of uncovering, revealing, and recovering deep equality–a recovery that is vital to living in an increasingly diverse society. In achieving deep equality, identities are fluid, shifting in importance and structure as social interaction unfolds. Rigid identity imaginings, especially religious identities, block our vision to the complexities of social life and press us into corners that trap us in identities that we often ourselves do not recognize, want, or know how to escape.

Although the focus of this study is deep equality and its existence and persistence in relation to religious difference, deep equality is located beyond the realm of religion. Beaman draws from the work of those whose primary focus is not in fact religion, and who are doing their own ‘deep equality’ work in other domains, illustrating especially why equality matters. By retelling and exploring stories of negotiation it is possible to reshape our social imaginary to better facilitate what works, which varies from place to place and time to time.

Key Features:

  • Traces deep equality by focusing on positive narratives of people working out and accepting religious differences in everyday life
  • Rather than developing a normative rulebook with prescriptions for living with religious diversity, this study maps the micro-processes that make up the everyday negotiation of difference
  • Focuses on the fragments of stories that model resolution and a desire to find common ground using interviews, public submissions, statements, and fiction
  • Introduces key concepts, such as deep equality, the ‘non-event’, contaminated diversity, and agonistic respect

About the Author:

Lori G. Beaman is the Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change, Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, and the Principal Investigator of the Religion and Diversity Project, a thirty-seven-member international research team whose focus is religion and diversity. Professor Beaman is the co-editor of Constructions of Self and Other in Yoga, Travel, and Tourism: A Journey to Elsewhere (with Sonia Sikka; Macmillan, 2016), Atheist Identities: Spaces and Social Contexts (with Steven Tomlins; Springer, 2016), and Varieties of Religious Establishment (with Winnifred Fallers Sullivan; Routledge, 2013).

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. The Difference ‘Difference’ Makes

3. Alternative Narratives and Getting to Deep Equality

4. Practices from the Everyday World: Mobilizing Values and Strategies

5. Tolerance and Accommodation: A Brief Genealogy

6. ‘The People who Run the World’: Reclaiming Equality from Law

7. Conclusion: Getting to Deep Equality

Source: Oxford University Press

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