Professor Francois Grin, University of Geneva in Adelaide to speak about the value of linguistic diversity

With globalization, most contemporary societies are confronted with increasingly pressing migration issues. This trend is very general, affecting not only comparatively young "immigration countries" like Australia, but also western European countries with centuries-old state traditions. Across these different socio-historical backdrops, however, migration flows have one important consequence in common – namely, they challenge the linguistic and cultural self-image of receiving countries. This, in turn, often gives rise to political tensions whose effects are hard to predict.

Professor François Grin of the University of Geneva argues the response to this challenge, from the social sciences and humanities, has generally been one that emphasizes the concept of "tolerance" as the key for harmonious intergroup relations. While its application comes in different variants, ranging from a British-style, semi-communitarian approach to the French republican perspective that stresses the privatization of linguistic and cultural difference, "tolerance" is seen as the necessary and perhaps sufficient condition for harmonious living together. However, the current success of populist or far-right political parties (sometimes reflected in election results) questions the sociological adequacy and the political relevance of an exclusive focus on the notion of tolerance.

Professor François Grin teaches economics and diversity management at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Geneva.