During the last few years, the European Union has put an increased focus on culture as a phenomenon both within and outside of the Community. In 2007 the European Commission published its first policy on culture and this document informs that globalization has increased the contact and exposure of other cultures around the world and, consequently, questions about “Europe’s identity and its ability to ensure intercultural, cohesive societies” (CEC 2007: 2) has emerged. Thus, the purpose of the agenda is to use the growing awareness about the EU’s “unique role to play in promoting its cultural richness and diversity, both within Europe and world-wide” (CEC 2007: 3). The acknowledged main instrument is the intercultural dialogue, a term that has become almost a prestige word and its presence in policy document of the European Union has been growing at an exponential rate, according to some scholars (cf. Dewey 2008). An arena where the intercultural dialogue is encouraged is education because these “institutions play an important role in fostering intercultural dialogue, through their education programmes, as actors in broader society and as sites where the intercultural dialogue is put in practice” (CEC 2008: 31).
My overarching objective of this paper is to map and analyse the discourse of the “intercultural dialogue” as it evolves in EU policies. The reason for doing this is that the importance of the intercultural dialogue when dealing with other countries and regions outside of the Union is emphasised. Within such rhetoric there is an idea that other countries and regions may benefit the European legacy. This could from a postcolonial perspective be seen as interlinked with a colonial legacy, where something is promoted to someone who has experience of being subjected by the very same product. The reason why this is even a possibility in the first place is due to Colonialism, since without it the “language links” between Europe and the rest of the World would not have existed.
Thus, in this paper I will develop a postcolonial perspective, drawing on scholars such as Edward W. Said (1978, 1993), Anibal Quijano (2000, 2007) and Stuart Hall (1997), on those ingredients, definitions and meaning that are attached to the intercultural dialogue in EU policy documents. The purpose of the chosen theory is to investigate how ideas of Europe’s colonial past are part of the discourse of the intercultural dialogue. Through this it can be possible to conclude that the world system is asymmetrical structured as centre-periphery, where the others opposed to Europe are marginalised to its outer edges.