The special issue on Intercultural Dialogue in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(2), co-authored by Shiv Ganesh and Prue Holmes, consolidates emerging interest in intercultural dialogue. The special issue emerged from the “Intercultural Dialogue” NCA Summer Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2009. The four selected articles build upon, expand, and critique current understandings of intercultural dialogue, in particular, the important definition established by the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (2008). This definition locates intercultural dialogue beyond mere tolerance of the other and situates deep shared understandings, as well as new forms of creative and expressive communication, as dialogic outcomes.
The four articles elaborate the terrain on intercultural dialogue in five important ways: 1) by drawing on key theorists of dialogue and intercultural communication; 2) by understanding dialogic encounters as intercultural, embedded in national, political, economic, religious, and historical interests, in order to view social problems in new and creative ways; 3) by engaging reflexively in the dialogic processes occurring in intercultural settings and encounters; 4) by situating the study of intercultural dialogue as an applied and pragmatic endeavour, using theories as resources for good practice; and 6) by explicating ethics as central to dialogic processes, for example, in contexts of social justice and colonization.
Witteborn’s paper “Discursive Grouping in a Virtual Forum: Dialogue, Difference, and the Intercultural” investigates how participants, in this case, Uyghur diaspora, construct difference in a virtual forum where difference is an opportunity for dialogic transformation. Witteborn’s analysis reveals that interlocutors mostly confirmed group locations through identity terms, truth talk, and distrust, which prevented dialogue. In reflecting on the meaning of intercultural, she thus cautions not to overemphasize the cultural at the expense of other meanings of group location important to interlocutors.
LaFever’s article “Empowering Native Americans: Communication, Planning, and Dialogue for Eco-Tourism in Gallup, New Mexico” emphasizes the importance of finding ways to meet the participartory needs of a marginalised (Navajo) community to engage and support them in public dialogue. Her study highlights the need for continued development of dialogic practices, and for closer ties among communication and planning scholars.
Carbaugh, Nuciforo, Saito and Shin, in “’Dialogue’ in Cross-Cultural perspective: Japanese, Korean, and Russian Discourses,” explore terms and practices relating to dialogue in the three discourses identified in the title. Their analysis of the term “dialogue” reveals distinctive goals for communication, implicit moral rules for conduct, and the proper tone, mode, and interactional structure within each discourse. They conclude that cross-cultural knowledge of this kind can clarify and address vexing problems such as the cultural balancing of information and truth with relational concerns.
MacLennan’s essay “’To Build a Beautiful Dialogue’: Capoeira as Contradiction” examines the dynamic dance-fight-game of African-Brazilian origins as a metaphor for dialogue. Through text, literature and personal experience, MacLennan reveals how dialogue is constituted through contradiction and paradox. Drawing on co-cultural theory, she reveals the importance of five key contradictions occurring in capoeira that have relevance to intercultural dialogue among cocultural groups.
Together, the articles in this collection expand current understandings of dialogue as they seek to explore the potentially dialogic role of conflict as well as consensus and collaboration. As such they inaugurate a productive exchange between scholarship on dialogue and intercultural communication studies, thereby setting an agenda for studies of intercultural dialogue.