Narratives of Hope: Self-Worth and the Current Crisis in American Society and Beyond
Harvard University, United States of America
With growing inequality, the American Dream, and its equivalents elsewhere in the world, is becoming less effective as a collective myth. With its focus on material success, competition and self-reliance, neoliberalism is leading the upper-middle class toward a mental health crisis while the working class and low-income groups do not have the resources needed to live the dream. It also generates a hardening of symbolic boundaries toward various groups. One possible way forward is broadening cultural inclusion by promoting new narratives of hope. I will discuss approaches to achieving this goal. I will go on to discuss the role of culture and belonging in the promotion of collective well-being and conclude with an exploration of the implications of my analysis for Europe and other advanced industrial societies.
Michèle Lamont is Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. She served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association in 2016-2017 and she chaired the Council for European Studies from 2006-2009. She is also the recipient of the 2017 Erasmus prize for her contributions to the social sciences in Europe and the rest of the world. A cultural and comparative sociologist, Lamont is the author of a dozen books and edited volumes and over one hundred articles and chapters on a range of topics including culture and inequality, racism and stigma, academia and knowledge, social change and successful societies, and qualitative methods. Lamont is Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University; and Co-director of the Successful Societies Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Cities of Fears, Cities of Hopes, and the ‘Refugee Crisis’
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
There is a pressing intellectual challenge to re-think two coterminous concerns: the rediscovery of the ‘local’ and the city in particular, and an understanding of the experience of displaced migration in European cities. Drawing on Bauman’s (2003) distinction between ‘cities of fears’ and ‘cities of hopes’, this keynote will ask what a focus on the ’local’ can tell us about recent developments in the governance of displaced migrants and refugees. Taking a multi-sited approach spanning cases in the south and north of Europe, it will discuss the challenge of housing and accommodation in particular, to consider how local and city level approaches may reproduce, negotiate and sometimes significantly diverge from national level policy and rhetoric, and what these means for our understanding of cities and migration today.
Nasar Meer is Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. He is the Principle Investigator of the JPI ERA Net / Horizon 2020 GLIMER project, examining the governance and local integration of migrants and Europe’s refugees, and Editor in Chief of the Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. His publications include: Islam and Modernity (4 Volumes) (ed, 2017); Interculturalism and multiculturalism: Debating the dividing lines (co-ed, 2016); Citizenship, Identity and the Politics of Multiculturalism: The rise of Muslim consciousness (2015, 2nd Edition); Racialization and religion (ed, 2014), Race and Ethnicity (2014) and European Multiculturalism(s) (co-edited, 2012). In 2016 he was awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Thomas Reid Medal for excellence in the social sciences, and in 2017 he was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.