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The Politics of Us and Them

Ian Buruma en Tariq Ramadan

Nowadays we can no longer easily split up the world into I versus the Other, Us versus Them, the Familiar versus the Stranger - since in a globalized world we are all connected.
But globalization goes together with differentiation and diversity, with the proliferation of specific (national, religious or ethnic) identities. How to reconcile both tendencies? How to deal with unity and diversity in this global context - especially in terms of politics and democracy?

Politics as Religion
Ian Buruma
The Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit draws a distinction between politics as religion and politics as economics. Politics as religion deals in absolute truth, which can be sacred, but also secular. Politics as economics is more, like trade, compromise between different interests. Is there a way for the politics as religion and politics as economics to find some common ground in a liberal democracy? Is compromise possible? This problem, ranging from the example of Dutch Calvinist politics to that of contemporary Islam, will be the core of Ian Buruma’s presentation.

Who is the stranger?
Tariq Ramadan
Who are the strangers? Who are the members of the family? The new Muslim presence in the West is questioning both the old definition of our identity and our sense of belonging. Globalisation is moving and removing the old points of reference; as we are not sure who ‘we’ are it becomes easier to define who ‘we’ are not. This negative definition of our identity is the open door to potential new conflict, rejection and racism. Is our neighbour a threat or a chance and could it be that our Muslim neighbour is from the family without us knowing it? So who would be the stranger?

Ian Buruma is a British-Dutch writer and academic. Much of his work focuses on Asian culture. He has held a number of editorial and academic positions, and has contributed numerous articles to the New York Review of Books.

Tariq Ramadan is a Swiss academic and Islamic scholar. He is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University. Through his writings and lectures he has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world.

The Lolle Nauta Forum is initiated by the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen, in cooperation with Studium Generale and de Volkskrant in order to stimulate the public debate, and named after Lolle Nauta, himself a public intellectual and Professor of social philosophy and philosophy of science at the University of Groningen from 1971 till 1994.

Interesting links
Website Ian Buruma
Wikipedia Ian Buruma

Website Tariq Ramadan
Wikipedia Tariq Ramadan

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