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Boundaries, Membership & Belonging

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Is it possible to have a world without “us” and “them”?

All societies distinguish members from non-members. Indeed, evolutionary biology and psychology suggest that humans are predisposed to distinguish “us” from “them,” and the process can lead to increased trust and cooperation towards members. But it can also lead to prejudice, suspicion and injustice towards non-members.

The Boundaries, Membership & Belonging program explores ways to create and empower groups without falling back on ideas that produce pernicious divisions and hierarchies.

As migration and globalization weaken traditional boundaries around the world, many people are searching for a sense of belonging and are staking claims to membership. Recent political events show that if a new, inclusive sense of "we" is not developed, people may turn instead to appeals based on exclusionary boundaries of ethnicity, religion and class.

The program brings together leading social scientists and political and legal theorists who will collaborate to make sense of membership politics. They ask whether we can re-draw boundaries in a way that is inclusive without losing solidarity and the possibility of collective action. In short, why membership matters in a globalizing world.

Detailed Program Description for Applicants to the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program, 2021-2023

Founded

2019

Supporters

BMO Financial Group, The Jarislowsky Foundation, Jacqueline Koerner

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Political science
Law
Psychology
Sociology
Economics
History
Philosophy

CIFAR Contact

Kate Geddie

Fellows & Advisors

Program Directors

Irene Bloemraad

Program Co-Director

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
University of California Berkeley
United States

Will Kymlicka

Program Co-Director
Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Successful Societies
Queen's University
Canada
Fellows

Yasmeen Abu-Laban

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
University of Alberta
Canada

Frederick Cooper

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
New York University
United States

Victoria Esses

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Western University
Canada

Evan Lieberman

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Allison Harell

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Université du Québec à Montréal
Canada

Audrey Macklin

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
University of Toronto
Canada

Nathan Nunn

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Harvard University
United States

Stephen David Reicher

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
University of St. Andrews
United Kingdom

Prerna Singh

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Successful Societies
Brown University
United States

Andreas Wimmer

Fellow

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Columbia University
United States
Advisors

Keith Banting

Advisor

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Queen's University
Canada

Catherine Dauvergne

Advisor

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
University of British Columbia
Canada

Hazel Markus

Advisor

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Successful Societies
Stanford University
United States

Vijayendra Rao

Advisory Committee Chair
Advisor

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Successful Societies
World Bank
United States

Ayelet Shachar

Advisor

Boundaries Membership & Belonging
Max Planck Institute Study of Religious & Ethnic Diversity
Germany

Related News

Boundaries, Membership & Belonging

CIFAR Presents: The Walrus Talks Boundaries

Watch CIFAR fellows explain how divisions shape our lives, what lies between borders, and what membership means now.

Advances

Hope for an inclusive future

A Q&A with Boundaries, Membership & Belonging co-director Will Kymlicka

Announcement

CIFAR welcomes new fellows

Celebrating 112 appointments from across disciplines and around the world

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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