Secularism, racism and the politics of belonging

A major conference on race, religion, secularity and public policy is taking place at the University of East London on Thursday 27 January 2011, organised by the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) and the Runnymede Trust. Ekklesia is among the presenting agencies.

The aim of the gathering, 'Secularism, racism and the politics of belonging' is to explore the ways in which questions of race, belief and religious affiliation operate in state policies and civil society in Britain and beyond.

It will examine how matters of faith are constructed in relation to old and new forms of racism and to other contemporary political projects of belonging, considering the implications for citizenship and social solidarity in the context of “the Big Society”.

These issues are being examined in relation to specific questions which have occupied the British public in recent years: constructions of “faith communities” in relation to ethnic identities; the place of religion in equality legislation and legal pluralism; debates about dress codes; and the effect of particular forms of religious education, including separate faith schools.

The conference brings together academics and researchers, community activists, race equality groups, and leading figures from secular, Christian, Muslim and Jewish organisations.

Speakers include: Baroness Prof Haleh Afshar, York University; Gita Sahgal, writer and film-maker; Dr AbdoolKarim Vakil, Kings College London; Cassandra Balchin, Muslim Women’s Network; Dr Sawirti Saharso, VU University, Amsterdam; Prof Karima Bennoune, Rutgers University; Rania Hafez, University of East London; Marieme Helie-Lucas, Women Living Under Muslim Laws; Jonathan Bartley, Ekklesia; Dr Rob Berkeley, Runnymede Trust; Prof Philip Marfleet, University of East London; and Prof Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London.

University of East London - www.uel.ac.uk/rrc

Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging - http://www.uel.ac.uk/cmrb/news.htm

Runnymede Trust - www.runnymedetrust.org

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