Recognition and the Politics of Identity and Inclusion in the 21st Century: Managing Diversity in Plural Societies

28 & 29 April 2011

The University of Hong Kong

Welcome to the Conference on “Recognition and the Politics of Identity and Inclusion in the 21st Century: Managing Diversity in Plural Societies”.  The Conference is part of the University of Hong Kong’s Emerging Strategic Research Theme on Diversity Studies and is supported by the Law Faculty of the University of Hong Kong, the Law Faculty’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Migration has generated an increasingly borderless world which has challenged the nation-state model as an effective tool for the governance of multiplicities and the management of diversity. As the nation-state is faced with the challenge of dealing with immigrants, non-nationals, refugees and others with newly emerging identities, there is a need to reassess existing frameworks for recognition of the claims of minority communities.

Whilst civil society movements over the course of the last century have helped secure legal recognition of the rights of minorities, the complexities of plural identities showcase the weaknesses of the current categorizations which form the basis for the extension or denial of rights.  As a result, it is necessary to critically examine the resulting marginalization of individuals and groups on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, national minority status, refugee status, gender, age, sexuality, health, and disability.  Current protections are inadequate as they continue to be based on exclusionary frames of analyses which ignore the distinct needs and rights of these groups.  The fact that each of these minority statuses often overlap with other minority traits further compounds the challenges of governance.

This conference seeks to explore the changing dimensions of the politics of identity and inclusion and their implications for governance and the protection of minority communities in plural societies.  The conference intends to forge new synergies between disciplines and will draw on the concepts of equality, non-discrimination, identity, inclusion, minority rights and human rights to address the comprehensive challenges posed by life at the margins of society.

Keynote Speaker: Ms. Gay J. McDougall, United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues

Topic: The Right to Be Me: Equality Wars on the Ground

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