Living with others: Fostering cultural pluralism through citizenship politics

Considerable research to date has focused on accommodating newcomers through official citizenship policies that promote integration through multiculturalism or assimilation or policies that securitize citizenship through restrictive border controls and security measures. Much less research has investigated creative, citizen-led initiatives of civil society organizations within communities, which seek to circumvent these citizenship policies (multicultural, assimilationist or restrictive in nature) in favor of opening communities to newcomers and fostering cultural pluralism in ways that transform understandings about who is a citizen and who belongs to the community.

This 5 year project, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, investigates why, how and under what conditions some communities are more open to cultural difference than others; what types of projects facilitate openness to newcomers and how do citizens and non-citizens participate in these projects in ways that transform understandings of citizenship and belonging. Rather than focusing on barriers to integration, the project will contribute to policy relevant scholarship that examines successful community initiatives across several European countries that foster living with cultural plurality and investigates why some communities, rather than acting in reactionary ways, open their communities to newcomers instead.

For more information on the project please contact:
Dr. Kim Rygiel  or Dr. Feyzi Baban
Project Research Team (see below)


“A Year after “The Cologne Attacks”: How Small Community Initiatives in Europe Are Countering Right-wing Populism”, Praxis, 14 December 2016

“Snapshots from the margins: Transgressive cosmopolitanisms in Europe”, European Journal of Social Theory,  Volume  17, issue 4,  2014

“Living with others: Fostering radical cosmopolitanism through citizenship politics in Berlin” (forthcoming). Ethics and Global Politics.

Living with others: Fostering radical cosmopolitanism through citizenship politics in Berlin

Abstract (Forthcoming in Ethics & Global Politics)

A growing refugee and migration crisis has imploded on European shores, immobilizing EU countries and fuelling a rise in far-right parties. Against this backdrop, this paper investigates the question of how to foster pluralism and a cosmopolitan desire for living with others who are newcomers. It does so by investigating community-based, citizen-led initiatives that open communities to newcomers, such as refugees and migrants, and foster cultural pluralism in ways that transform understandings of who is a citizen and belongs to the community. We focus here on initiatives, which seek to build solidarity and social relations with newcomers, but in ways that challenge citizen/non-citizen binaries based on one of our field research sites: Berlin, Germany. The paper brings insights from critical citizenship studies exploring how citizenship is constituted through everyday practices into dialogue with radical cosmopolitanism particularly through Derrida’s works on “unconditional hospitality”.  This radical cosmopolitan literature theorizes possibilities for building relational ontologies between guest and host, citizen and newcomer, in ways that are not based on exclusion but engagement with difference and which challenge antagonistic forms of self-other and citizen-non-citizen dichotomies. Illustrative examples based on community-led initiatives in Berlin demonstrate how this spirit of radical communitarianism is put into practice through everyday lived experience and demonstrate that it is possible to develop a cosmopolitan spirit through exchange and transformation of both the self and other by engaging with rather than seeking to eliminate difference in the aims of constituting a universal around which cosmopolitanism can be built.

Project Research Team

The project’s research team consists of a Principal Investigators Dr. Kim Rygiel, Wilfrid Laurier University and Dr. Feyzi Baban, Trent University and Collaborator, Dr. Fuat Keyman, Sabanci University and Research Assistants, Diana Thomaz and Anisah Madden.

Kim Rygiel is associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of International Policy and Governance at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Research interests include critical border security, citizenship and migration studies. Her work includes Globalizing Citizenship (2010) is published in journals such as Citizenship Studies, Review of Constitutional Studies, European Journal of Social Theory. Email [email protected]

Feyzi Baban is associate professor of Political Studies and International Development at Trent University.  His research interests include international relations theory, cosmopolitanism, citizenship studies and Turkey-EU relations.  His work is published in several edited book collections and in such journals as Global Society, European Journal of Social Theory, Citizenship Studies and Studies of Political Economy. Email: [email protected]


Fuat Keyman is Director of Istanbul Policy Center and Professor of International Relations at Sabancı University. Keyman is a leading Turkish political scientist and an expert on democratization, globalization, international relations, Turkey – EU relations, Turkish foreign policy, and civil society development. He is a member of the Science Academy. He has worked as a member on the Council of Wise People as part of the Peace Process to the Kurdish issue. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books, including: Turkey, The Arab Spring and Beyond (with Bülent Aras, 2016), Global Turkey in Europe 3: Democracy, Trade, and the Kurdish Question in Turkey-EU Relations (2015),  and Democracy, Identity and Foreign Policy in Turkey (with Şebnem Gümüşçü, 2014). His articles appear in such journals such as Third World Quarterly, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, Journal of Democracy, European Journal of Social Theory, Theory Culture & Society, and Review of International Political Economy. Email: [email protected]

Research Assistants

Diana Thomaz, Doctoral Candidate, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Ontario

Anisah Madden, Department of International Development Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada