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Why Interculturalidad is not Interculturality Colonial remains and paradoxes in translation between indigenous social movements and supranational bodies
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
2015 (English)In: Cultural Studies, ISSN 0950-2386, E-ISSN 1466-4348, Vol. 29, no 2, 205-228 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interculturality is a notion that has come to dominate the debate on cultural diversity among supranational bodies such as the European Union and UNESCO in recent years. The EU goes so far as to identify interculturality as a key cultural and linguistic characteristic of a union which, it argues, acts as an inspiration to other parts of the world. At the same time, the very notion of interculturality is a core component of indigenous movements in the Andean region of Latin America in their struggles for decolonization. Every bit as contingent as any other concept, it is apparent that several translations of interculturality are simultaneously in play. Through interviews with students and teachers in a course on interculturality run by indigenous alliances, my aim in this essay is to study how the notion is translated in the socio-political context of the Andes. With reference points drawn from the works of Walter Mignolo and the concept of delinking, I will engage in a discussion about the potential for interculturality to break out of the prison-house of colonial vocabulary – modernization, progress, salvation – that lingers on in official memory. Engagement in such an interchange of experiences, memories and significations provides not only recognition of other forms of subjectivity, knowledge systems and visions of the future but also a possible contribution to an understanding of how any attempt to invoke a universal reach for interculturality, as in the case of the EU and UNESCO, risks echoing the imperial order that the notion in another context attempts to overcome. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015. Vol. 29, no 2, 205-228 p.
Keyword [en]
interculturality; indigenous movements; delinking; modernity; coloniality; European Union
National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105523DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2014.899379ISI: 000347522000006OAI: diva2:707914
Available from: 2014-03-26 Created: 2014-03-26 Last updated: 2015-03-02
In thesis
1. Impossible Interculturality?: Education and the Colonial Difference in a Multicultural World
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impossible Interculturality?: Education and the Colonial Difference in a Multicultural World
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

An increasing number of educational policies, academic studies, and university courses today propagate ‘interculturality’ as a method for approaching ‘the Other’ and reconciling universal values and cultural specificities. Based on a thorough discussion of Europe’s colonial past and the hierarchies of knowledge that colonialism established, this dissertation interrogates the definitions of intercultural knowledge put forth by EU policy discourse, academic textbooks on interculturality, and students who have completed a university course on the subject. Taking a decolonial approach that makes its central concern the ways in which differences are formed and sustained through references to cultural identities, this study shows that interculturality, as defined in these texts, runs the risk of affirming a singular European outlook on the world, and of elevating this outlook into a universal law. Contrary to its selfproclaimed goal of learning from the Other, interculturality may in fact contribute to the repression of the Other by silencing those who are already muted. The dissertation suggests an alternative definition of interculturality, which is not framed in terms of cultural differences but in terms of colonial difference. This argument is substantiated by an analysis of the Latin American concept of interculturalidad, which derives from the struggles for public and political recognition among indigenous social movements in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. By bringing interculturalidad into the picture, with its roots in the particular and with strong reverberations of the historical experience of colonialism, this study explores the possibility of decentring the discourse of interculturality and its Eurocentric outlook. In this way, the dissertation argues that an emancipation from colonial legacies requires that we start seeing interculturality as inter-epistemic rather than simply inter-cultural.

Abstract [sv]

Fokus för denna avhandling är spridningen av begreppet interkulturalitet inom utbildning. Utbildningspolicy, akademisk litteratur och mängden kurser i högre utbildning ägnade åt begreppet vittnar alla om dess betydelse i försöken att förena det kulturellt partikulära med det universella. Med Europas koloniala förflutna i åtanke och dess skapande av hierarkier mellan vad som definieras som kunskap, ämnar denna avhandling undersöka vilka kunskaper som krävs för att bli interkulturell. Syftet är framför allt att besvara frågan vad som händer med interkulturalitet om kulturella skillnader istället förstås som koloniala skillnader. Utifrån ett dekolonialt perspektiv som fokuserar på hur skillnader skapas och upprätthålls utifrån föreställningar om kulturella identiteter, analyseras EU-policy, akademisk litteratur samt intervjuer med studenter som avklarat en kurs i interkulturalitet. Analysen visar på hur interkulturalitet, i dess nuvarande tappning, riskerar fastna i en singulär europeisk utblick på världen upphöjd till universell lag. Snarare än att mildra eller förändra maktrelationer och skapa möjligheter till mellanmänskliga möten, riskerar därför interkulturaliteten att bidra till fortsatt förtryck av den som anses kulturellt annorlunda. En alternativ utgångspunkt står att finna i en annan översättning av interkulturalitet – interculturalidad – hämtad från ursprungsbefolkningarnas kamp för att bli synliggjorda, att dela makten, på den offentliga arenan i Bolivia, Ecuador och Peru. Genom att lyfta fram begreppet interculturalidad, som just har sitt ursprung i singulariteten och bär med sig själva erfarenheten av kolonialism, tillförs en möjlig distansering från interkulturalitet med dess implicita eurocentrism. Avslutningsvis argumenteras för att befrielse från kolonialismens ok kräver att interkulturalitet omkodas som inter-epistemisk.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. 106 p.
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 182
Interculturality, multiculturalism, intercultural education, policy, postcolonialism, cultural difference, colonial difference, European Union, interculturalidad, delinking, Interkulturalitet, mångkultur, interkulturell utbildning, policy, postkolonialism, kulturella skillnader, koloniala skillnader, Europeiska Unionen, interculturalidad
National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106245 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-106245 (DOI)978-91-7519-348-9 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-05-23, 101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-30 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved

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