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German-Israeli Exchange Project
Diversity in Israel and Germany – German Israeli Young Researchers’ Exchange on Diversity
The exchange project between the University of Haifa and the University of Hildesheim focused on cohabitation in plural societies. It was addressed to young researchers working on their thesis (MA or PhD) and doing empirical research on diversity. Getting to know each other and exchanging views on their research projects and research practice enabled the participants to work out and make visible differences and similarities in their respective environments with respect to the social and academic discourse of diversity. Together, the Israeli and German students analysed how different dimensions of diversity (ethnicity, gender, age, disability etc.) are shaped and negotiated. They then reflected on how these specific constructions of difference in relevant social fields of practice (chiefly in the education sector) take effect and come to be crucial for inclusion and exclusion precesses.
“Diversity” has recently become a key term in academic and public debates on the constitution of modern societies. Diversity is defined by a number of criteria like age (generation), gender (and sexual orientation), race (national or ethnical origin), place of birth or origin (migration experience), physical/psychological ability (state of health), language (linguistic capital), class (socio-economic status), area (urban vs. rural, centre vs. periphery) and religion (cultural heritage). The social relevance of these categories has varied over time and space in Israel as well as in Germany. The limits that define the development and implementation of educational, political and social concepts of dealing with diversity shift depending on the state of tension between heterogeneity and homogeneity. In this context, especially processes of exclusion and inclusion need to be examined more closely. Besides the overall question of what holds ethnically and socially heterogeneous communities of different religions together, the project looked at the following subquestions:
Which narratives of diversity can be made out in today’s Israel and Germany? How are dimensions of diversity conveyed and negotiated in these two countries? What are the academic and methodological challenges within the focal point diversity research? How do the young researchers devise their empirical work in this field? How do they position themselves as researchers and citizens within this social discourse? And finally, to come back to the basic question, what doeshold together ethnically and socially heterogeneous communities of different religions?
The project brought together 16 young Israeli and German academics who were analysing different aspects of diversity in their doctoral or masters thesis, i.e. their theses were ositioned within the broad spectrum of diversity studies while originating from different fields (educational studies, musicology, religious studies, geography, sociology, etc.). Special emphasis was placed on methods of qualitative social research or a combined approach of quantitative and qualitative methods.
The partner universities SU Hildesheim and University of Haifa hosted a total of four intercultural research workshops between 2013 and 2015.
The exchange project was completed on 7 May 2015 with an international conference.
1st workshop: december 2013 in Germany
3rd workshop: november 2014 in Germany
2nd workshop: may/june 2014 in Israel
4th workshop: may 2015 in Israel