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Impossible Interculturality?: Education and the Colonial Difference in a Multicultural World
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
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.
Series
Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 182
Keyword [en]
Interculturality, multiculturalism, intercultural education, policy, postcolonialism, cultural difference, colonial difference, European Union, interculturalidad, delinking
Keyword [sv]
Interkulturalitet, mångkultur, interkulturell utbildning, policy, postkolonialism, kulturella skillnader, koloniala skillnader, Europeiska Unionen, interculturalidad
National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106245DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-106245ISBN: 978-91-7519-348-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-106245DiVA: diva2:714944
Public defence
2014-05-23, 101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-30 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The EU and the Recycling of Colonialism: Formation of Europeans through intercultural dialogue
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The EU and the Recycling of Colonialism: Formation of Europeans through intercultural dialogue
2012 (English)In: Educational Philosophy and Theory, ISSN 0013-1857, E-ISSN 1469-5812, Vol. 44, no 9, 1010-1023 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present essay focuses on problematizing the European Union’s claim that interculturaldialogue constitutes an advocated method of talking through cultural boundaries—inside as wellas outside the classroom—based on mutual empathy and non-domination. More precisely, theaim is to analyze who is being constructed as counterparts of the intercultural dialogue throughthe discourse produced by the EU in policies on education, culture and intercultural dialogue.Within the Union, Europeans are portrayed as having an a priori historical existence, whilethe ones excluded from this notion are evoked to demonstrate its difference in comparison to theEuropean one.The results show that subjects not considered as Europeans serve as markers of themulticultural present of the space. Thus, intercultural dialogue seems to consolidate differencesbetween European and Other—the‘We’ and ‘Them’ in the dialogue—rather than, as in line withits purpose, bringing subjects together.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Keyword
postcolonialism, European Union, EU, intercultural dialogue, intercultural education, multiculturalism, multicultural education
National Category
Educational Sciences Languages and Literature Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-76574 (URN)10.1111/j.1469-5812.2011.00839.x (DOI)000310474700009 ()
Available from: 2012-04-11 Created: 2012-04-11 Last updated: 2017-12-07
2. In the Name of Interculturality: On Colonial Legacies in Intercultural Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>In the Name of Interculturality: On Colonial Legacies in Intercultural Education
2015 (English)In: British Educational Research Journal, ISSN 0141-1926, E-ISSN 1469-3518, Vol. 41, no 3, 520-534 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper scrutinises the ways in which students who have completed a university course on interculturality distinguish between sameness and otherness in attempts to integrate, relate to and build a bridge to those deemed culturally different. It makes use of interviews to analyse the factors that shape the interpretation of otherness and difference in the students’ definitions of interculturality, as well as their statements about the relationships between us and them, and descriptions of instances of learning and teaching that have taken place between parties in different parts of the world. Theoretically, the paper is based on a postcolonial framework, highlighting the continuing influence of colonialism and Eurocentric ways of reasoning inside as well as outside the classroom in today’s society. One of the main conclusions of the paper is that in the process of transferring knowledge, there is a risk that the history of modern Europe will be sanctioned as the historical trajectory for the rest of the world to follow, with the accompanying supposition that this can only be made possible by extending a helping hand to the Other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2015
National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106243 (URN)10.1002/berj.3153 (DOI)000356625000009 ()
Note

On the day fo the defence date, the status of this article was Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-30 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Three Texts on Intercultural Education and a Critique of Border Drawing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Three Texts on Intercultural Education and a Critique of Border Drawing
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This essay explores the ways in which boundaries of estrangement are produced in the academic literature assigned for courses on interculturality. As the existence of interculturality is dependent on the ascription of content to culture, since the notion, by definition, always involves more than one singular culture, this essay seeks to provide an answer to the question of what this literature implicitly defines in terms of sameness vis-à-vis otherness and thereby chart the conditions for becoming intercultural. This question is especially important because theself in interculturality has to be, in principle, generalizable: it should be such that it signifies a position available for occupation by anybody with proper training in this approach. Starting from the assumption that different experiences, languages and identities, under the name of culture already intersect, and are contaminated by, one another, and are therefore already intercultural before being subjected to study under the auspices of ‘interculturality’ as an educational topic, the essay goes on toproblematize the way in which interculturality tends to construe sameness and difference along national lines and does little to cater for multiple, as opposed to national, or other unified, identities.

National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-106244 (URN)
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-30 Last updated: 2014-04-30Bibliographically approved
4. Why Interculturalidad is not Interculturality Colonial remains and paradoxes in translation between indigenous social movements and supranational bodies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why Interculturalidad is not Interculturality Colonial remains and paradoxes in translation between indigenous social movements and supranational bodies
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
Keyword
interculturality; indigenous movements; delinking; modernity; coloniality; European Union
National Category
Educational Sciences Cultural Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105523 (URN)10.1080/09502386.2014.899379 (DOI)000347522000006 ()
Available from: 2014-03-26 Created: 2014-03-26 Last updated: 2017-12-05

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Aman, Robert

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