May 9-10, 2016
Towards a Pedagogy of Religious Diversity
During this two -day workshop, the Turkish delegation used as a focal point the recent publication of EPIL namely the book titled Towards a Pedagogy of Religious Diversity, eds. Reinhild Traitler and Teny Pirri-Simonian. The aim of the workshop was two-fold: on the one hand the in-depth understanding of EPIL’s methodology as expounded in different chapters of the book and secondly the mapping of various issues related to identity and plurality.
Each delegation member was responsible to present a different chapter of the aforementioned book. After a brief introduction, a vivid discussion took place on major aspects involving EPIL pedagogue.
Discussing the EPIL experience as formulated by Teny Piri-Simonian we came to the conclusion that despite the span of time from the 70’s, still ‘concientization’ and ‘learning in community’ are valid concepts in today’s societies. As EPIL methodology was refined over time the main concepts of total equality in communication and respect to one’s ideas, proved to be important assets in establishing an understanding between different peoples.
Learning thyself through others was a concept the Turkish delegation discussed thoroughly. Self and group identification is not always as clear-cut as we tend to believe. Despite the efforts of the modern state to create single and uniform identities, in the time of globalism multi-identification is the rule rather than the exception. Moreover although assuming different identities is the prerogative of immigrant societies, multiplicity of identification is also seen in the host societies. This realization is yet another example of the reflexivity of social interaction.
The other important issue emerging from the discussion of the Turkish delegation relates to the issues of integration, assimilation and social cohesion. The historical aspect of Turkish immigration to Europe was the vehicle to start a constructive discussion on what defines assimilation and why the concept of integration failed to produce mutually respecting societies. One of the concepts outmoded was that of tolerance. Although used extensively in the previous decades to denote positive instances of non-violence, we have come to accept that as Goethe said ‘to tolerate a person is to offend a person’. Tolerance finally translated into recognition of diversity without relating to the vehicle of diversity, i.e. the individual. Finally we came to the conclusion that the concept of social cohesion would be more fitting to the multiplicity of today’s societies.
This multiplicity lies in the heat of the concepts of pluralism and plural societies, another focal point of our discussion. Keeping in mind these concepts we concluded that through the prism of the EPIL methodology of learning, acknowledging difference and staying connected are perhaps the most appropriate ways to become aware of prejudice and deal with it. Analyzing conflicts and creating possibilities to overcome obstacles and difficulties cannot but make us stronger in the long run.
The violent attempt during the 15/07 failed coup, to disturb abruptly our exertions as a society to understand each other, has made us realize how important and urgent is now more than ever before to intensify our efforts to stay connected in community and grow over conflicts, obstacles and difficulties.