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All inclusive: lustrum UG, 5-15 June 2019

Science programme Conference: “Growing together: Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion”

Brenda Bartelink

The Hague: City of Peace and Justice or Spiritual Battlefield?

When strategies towards realizing inclusive and peaceful societies do not align.

Handling diversity within nation states has always been challenging. This pertains to the governance of cultural, ethnic and religious differences through state politics, as well as to the organisation of diversity in social life.

Secularism has been seen, at least by some, as a way of handling such diversity, yet in practice refers to multiple and diverging strategies societies develop to respond to problems associated with diversity.

However  the analysis of these problems, as well as the solutions that are proposed, are not always shared between different actors. This leads to a dynamic of polarisation that often plays out on the intersections of religion, gender and majority/ minority relations.

This paper reflects on these dynamics by drawing on ethnographic research on African Christian spatial practices in the Dutch city of The Hague. It explores how religious practices challenge the racialized discourse on religious minorities that are seen as ‘stuck’ in traditional ways of living and not emancipated enough to be fully included in society.

At the same time these religious practices also challenge the ideals of 'growing together' by privileging a particular highly gendered Pentecostal Christian understanding of society and social challenges over other religious and secular approaches.

Brenda Bartelink is a senior researcher based at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. She conducts qualitative and ethnographic research on the intersections of religion, secularity, gender and sexuality in Sub Sahara Africa and Western Europe.

She is interested in how people and civil society actors in everyday practice navigate problems and issues that are subject of moral contestation and polarization. In addition she interested in societal impact and valorization academic knowledge on religion and diversity.

Last modified:30 May 2019 11.40 a.m.
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