SIETAR Europa Congress:
18 – 21 May 2022, Malta and Online. Deadline: 17 November 2021.
The intercultural field was born out of the 50s and 60s of the previous century. There were a lot of things that were taken for granted in that time that are not anymore: large parts of the global south were still colonized or on the verge of becoming independent; working globally was the privilege of a tiny minority of multinational companies headquartered in western Europe and North America; the iron curtain between the USSR and the West was considered inevitable and forever impenetrable; the oppression of women, people of colour and the LGBTQ community was normality and rarely questioned.
Of course, research into culture from the very beginning always came with the best intentions: if we could just understand each other better, we would find ways to work well with each other.
The intercultural field has grown considerably over the past decades. There are tools, theories, studies and concepts ad infinitum. Nonetheless, we see the deterioration of our natural environment threaten the well-being of people and peace on earth. Deep and old racist and class- based structures cause violence that dominate the headlines almost daily. Far-right populism is on the rise globally, as fundamental freedoms are declining even in places that were thought to be resilient democracies, in Europe and beyond. The recent global pandemic has amplified and clarified many of these systemic issues that were more easily ignored before. It has shown the incredible potential of what humans can achieve, when they work together across and beyond boundaries; it has also shown how we fail when we don’t.
So the question is, has interculturalism failed? Has it fulfilled its promise? Has it even promised the right things? Or, to put it bluntly, does interculturalism need to be replaced, reformed or reshaped to match the challenges this world faces?