Where: Dialogue Society, London
by Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi, St. Phillip’s Centre for Study and Engagement, Leicester
The United Kingdom is a key ‘Diaspora habitat’ for diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, economic and political groups across the globe. It offers ‘a home away from home’, providing a different social climate from ‘a melting pot model’ to ‘a mosaic model’. The seminar intends to highlight other European experiences of immigrant settlements and how religion and religious resurgence in the case of UK has become a prominent characteristic for the minority Diaspora communities to carve out their specific identities and to assail as confident social agents.
The seminar also provides a close study and an analysis of Leicester, the first city in the UK to become ‘a city of minorities’, outside London, whose population is nearly 300,000. Leicester takes pride in its varied religious, cultural and ethnic groups that create the ‘mosaic model’ it aspires. Many are its challenges and dilemmas. While ‘religious fervour’ enables a community to glue itself as a survival mechanism, it has the potential to pose a threat to other minorities, their progress and wellbeing.
The good effects of ‘religious fervour’ can be transformative as a social catalyst while its bad and ugly manifestations can be disabling and anti social, nullifying the very essence of religious faith. Diaspora ‘religious fervour’ as found in the UK has a social, political and community responsibility to portray, live and witness what religion stands for in the community.
Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi (PhD on majority–minority ethnic and religious conflict, Melbourne College of Divinity, University of Melbourne): Lecturer in Religion and Conflict, St. Phillip’s Centre for Study and Engagement, Leicester, UK. He develops and facilitates the Centre’s numerous programmes concerning interrelationships and dialogue between different religious, cultural and ethnic communities. Dr. Hettiarachchi is the founder Co-ordinator of the Luton Council of Faiths, Bedfordshire, UK. His primary research interests are in diaspora communities – their religious affiliations in the UK, Europe and Australia; their social adjustment processes; radicalisation of religious faith; land, history and notions of chosen-ness as political tools to define identity. He has published widely on related topics.