Intercultural Dialogue?

”It’s a total failure! We have hundreds of policy papers, but has anything changed?”. One of the participants of the round table burst out in frustration. After four days on the Encatc Conference in Lyon (France) on the topic ”Intercultural dialogue and project management”, listening to professors, directors, general secretaries, presidents, coordinators on different European levels, you wonder.

78 million Europeans live in poverty, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir shows in an article just a day after the conference. 78 millions. It’s equivalent to 16% of the European population.  At the same time as educators from Europe gathered in Lyon to discuss intercultural dialogue, ministers gathered in Marseille to take up the fight on poverty and social exclusion in Europe. Policy papers are written, at the same time as people in Europe, many of them immigrants, struggle to find a job and to live above the poverty line. People are still killed in Europe today on the basis of the colour of their skin, religious belief or for putting forward controversial opinions. So what is missing? There is not a lack of initiatives. Non-profit organisations, artists and cultural entrepreneurs start new projects all the time to address and put light on societal challenges and difficulties. On a small-scale grassroot level these initatives struggle in an unpredictable funding system, where the policies written seem to miss their purposes.

Intercultural dialogue. What in the world does it mean? A quick look in the Encyclopaedia suggests that ”intercultural” consider the processes where people with different languages and cultures communicate with and influence each other. ”Dialogue” is said, in the same dictionary, to be a conversation between two or several persons. The dialogue, the same source suggests, gives excellent opportunity to let the participants characterize themselves, in opinions, judgements and ways of expression. What happens when you put these two words together? Do the meaning get stronger when putting two words of communication next to each other? Or do they simply take out each other, so the meaning gets pointless?

In Lyon we were presented to two projects that in interesting ways try to reach people, communicate and experiment with new forms of expressions: Image-aiguë and the Lyon Opera project Kaléidoscope.


Artists’ situation in USA was described on this website here in June this year.

Two Swedish books (in Swedish) with a critical perspective on how the question of multicultural society has been handled in Sweden is Etnotism by Aleksander Muttori at Bwana Club, and Befria oss från mångkulturalism edited by Rasoul Nejadmehr, Sven-Eric Liedman och Dariush Moaven Doust published by Natur & Kultur.

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