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Diversity and Intersectionality

Studies in Religion, Education and Values


Edited By Jeff Astley and Leslie J. Francis

This volume brings together two core concepts that are central to understanding the social and public significance of religions and theologies within the contemporary world and are therefore of key importance to the discipline of religious education: diversity and intersectionality. Religious diversity requires an understanding of religions and theologies and their roles within a plural society. However, the effect of the intersectionality of multiple social identities on a person’s flourishing illuminates the ways in which the broader complexity of diversity must be viewed from different perspectives.

These core constructs were brought together in a recent conference convened by the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values, the leading international association for religious educators across the world. This volume presents twelve key contributions made to the seminar, spanning both conceptual and empirical approaches, and represents a unique collection of international perspectives on the interlocking themes of intersectionality and diversity.

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The International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV, ) is the most important international research association of its kind, with a major seminar session taking placed in a different country every two years. ISREV has no religious basis or test, and has members specializing, for example, in Protestant and Catholic Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and secular traditions. It was founded in 1978 by John M. Hull, the distinguished Australian academic, and John H. Peatling, then of the Character Research Project in Union College, Schenectady, New York. The first meeting in Birmingham, UK, had research papers from 32 scholars attending from ten countries. The 19th meeting, with four times the number of participants, was ISREV’s first return to England since 1978. It was held in 2014 in York St John University, UK, and it was my privilege to act as host.

In York, the seminar theme concerned diversity and intersectionality. In road systems, intersections are necessary. They can also be dangerous. Recently a senior member of a religious group was criticized for practising and teaching elements of another religion. In response, he described himself as ‘religiously bilingual’. This description raised as many questions as it answered, of course. But real people – in contrast to the ideal types of people popular in many books on religion or philosophy – generally live their lives with many languages, crossing many intersections. I suspect this is not a new phenomenon at all, but it is relatively newly recognized and...

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