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School of Geography

International Conference on Living with Difference, 12-13 September 2012, Marriott Hotel, Leeds, UK

Conference theme: How do we develop the capacity to live with difference?

Confirmed Speakers

  • Ash Amin
  • Zygmunt Bauman
  • Davina Cooper
  • Patricia Ehrkamp
  • Anne-Marie Fortier
  • Sophie Watson

There will also be an International Panel and a User Panel


The conference will be organised around four strands:

  • Theorising and Researching Difference
  • Encounters with Difference
  • Contesting Values in the Public Sphere
  • Managing Difference: Socio-legal Responses

Call for Papers

We are witnessing an era of unprecedented population change. This is a product of the twin forces of the global economy and global conflicts which have accelerated patterns of international migration. Other forms of rapid population change are evident too. The historical shift from narrowly hierarchised forms of society to new modernities, in which individuals are assumed to be released from traditional constraints and to have more freedom to create their own individualized biographies, choosing between a range of lifestyles and social ties, has resulted in the more open public expression of a diverse range of social identities and ways of living (e.g. in terms of sexual orientation, disability, gender, religion and belief etc). In this context of super mobility and super-diversity, Stuart Hall (1993: 361) has claimed that ‘the capacity to live with difference is…the coming question of the 21st century’. It is an issue that is becoming even more pertinent given growing tensions arising from post 9/11 terrorism and subsequent Western military interventions and the current international financial crisis because historically there has been a hardening of attitudes towards ‘others’ and a rise in intolerance during times of crisis.

In this context one strand of interdisciplinary research has celebrated the potential for new hybrid cultures and ways of living together with difference to be forged. Yet, while an internalised globalisation of society has occurred at least in parts of many societies, not everyone has access to or sees themselves as part of this cosmopolitanism or will chose to participate in interactions with people different from themselves when such opportunities occur. Spatial proximity can generate positive intercultural encounters but it can also breed defensiveness and the bounding of identities and communities by generating or aggravating comparisons between different social groups in terms of perceived/actual access to resources.

We therefore invite papers from any discipline or geographical context that critically engage with this exciting topic to stimulate further debate about how societies can develop the capacity to live with difference, while also providing the chance to hear from leading thinkers on this topic.

Potential topics for submissions might include, but are not limited to: identification and belonging; attitudes towards any form of diversity (e.g. sexual orientation, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, religion and belief, age etc.); embodied encounters with difference; theories of cosmopolitanism; competing group rights claims; intercultural competencies; patterns of prejudice (e.g. homophobia, Islamaphobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, disablism, ageism etc.); concepts of tolerance and intolerance; structural challenges to inclusion; strategies for managing difference.

Submission of Abstracts

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 13 May 2012. Abstracts of up to 300 words should be emailed to geo-LIVEDIFFERENCE(at)

Abstracts should include a title, the presenter(s) institutional affiliation(s) and contact details and an indication of to which of the four conference themes the paper relates. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified in the week commencing 28 May 2012.