In addition to two other works, the New York Times writer James Ryerson has recommended Fordham University Press’ City of Gods: Religious Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens. Ryerson begins by noting the relative lack of traditional philosophy covering the subject of immigration especially from classic philosophers such as John Stuart Mills and Henry Rawls among others. He explains the disparity by classifying immigration as a modern, hot-topic political issue and proclaims an urgent need for “deep thinking” in this important area:
“Be that as it may, with hostility toward immigrants and refugees fueling the ‘Brexit’ movement and the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, we could use some deep thinking right now about the relationship between the state and its citizens. This deep thinking would no longer start with the assumption that we already know who is included in that relationship (thanks for nothing, John Locke!), but rather would inquire how, in light of often conflicting values like local democracy and global justice, we should go about figuring that out.” (Read full article in The New York Times.)
City of Gods by R. Scott Hanson is a history and ethnography of Flushing, Queens in New York City. An important site in colonial America for its place in the history of religious freedom, Flushing is now perhaps the most striking case of religious and ethnic pluralism in the world—and an ideal place to explore how America’s long experiment with religious freedom, immigration, and religious pluralism began and continues. Ryerson endorses the book by saying, “the historian R. Scott Hanson uses the story of Flushing—which calls itself the birthplace of religious freedom in America and is now the hub of the most religiously diverse large county in the United States—as a “case study” of the promises and drawbacks of pluralism. How religiously diverse can a society get?”.
This is precisely the question Hanson seeks to answer in a realistic and grounded fashion. By exploring pluralism from a historical and ethnographic context, City of Gods takes a micro approach to help bring an understanding of pluralism from a sometimes abstract realm into the real world of everyday lives in which people and groups are dynamic and integrating agents in a complex and constantly changing world of local, national, and transnational dimensions.
City of Gods: Religious Freedom, Immigration, and Pluralism in Flushing, Queens is available to order on www.fordhampress.com at 20% off. Use discount code NYT-GODS-2016X at checkout.
You can follow R. Scott Hanson on Twitter @rscotthanson.