One of the greatest challenges for art and culture, sounded by intellectuals and also by funding bodies, is to represent diversity. But what precisely does this term mean and why does it so often placate rather than produce what it names? Prof. Steven Vertovec, Director of the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany) puts forward the notion of “super-diversity,” noting “the need to re-evaluate conceptions and policy measures surrounding diversity by way of moving beyond an ethno-focal understanding and adopting a multidimensional approach.”

Developing this idea further, while aiming to question and complicate the focus on immigration in the current debate, the prolific and provocative scholar and activist Tariq Ramadan weighs in on the subject. In the resulting essay, translated into Dutch and Arabic, Prof. Ramadan sets out an argument that foregrounds universalism as a necessary, if de-valued, horizon and offers a critique of the uses and limits of dialogue and discourse within the day to day practice of super-diversity.


At stake in this series, introduced in 2008, are terms that define contemporary culture but that have been used to the point of meaninglessness. An editorial collaboration between Witte de With’s director, Nicolaus Schafhausen, and head of publications, Monika Szewczyk, together with Caroline Schneider of Sternberg Press in Berlin, Reflections editions are, as the series title evokes, sustained intellectual commitments. For each book in the series, one writer who exhibits particular originality of thought is invited to consider one problematic term, chosen by the editors. The book-length essay is something rarely seen in print and more rarely still in rigorous translation. In these compact books the text appears in three languages—in English, Dutch and a third language. The series is designed by Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht.