Interculturality is the social , cultural and communicative phenomenon in which two or more cultures or, rather, representatives of different specific cultural identities , interact on equal terms , without any point of view prevailing over the others or being considered “normal”. This type of relationship favors dialogue and understanding, integration and enrichment of cultures.
Although culture has always been a field of frequent exchanges, crossings and hybridizations, the concept of interculturality is typical of modern times. Today, globalization and digital commerce have brought people from far apart geographies and cultures into contact, and migration is a daily phenomenon. Therefore, the idea of interculturality is in contact with other congeners, such as diversity , plurality and multiculturalism.
However, the horizontal dialogue imposed by interculturality was not exactly common in human history. Economic empires , cultural hegemony and colonialism are a legacy that is difficult to reconcile with the idea that, deep down, cultures are all the same, without some being more advanced than others, or some better than others, but it all depends on the point of view (that is, from the cultural framework itself) of those who think.
Principles of interculturality
The principles of interculturality can be summarized as follows:
- There are no cultures better than others , nor more advanced, but all are equally worthy and worthy of respect . Therefore, the only way to understand a culture is to interpret it according to its own criteria.
- Cultures are enriched by contact with other people : the greatest manifestations of cultural richness and variety are associated with migration, integration, hybridization and miscegenation.
There are three recognizable types of interculturality:
- Relational interculturality , when it comes to contact between cultures, that is, egalitarian coexistence between people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Functional interculturality , when it comes to the inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups in the economic, cultural, social and political apparatus of the nation , through equalizing mechanisms, such as positive discrimination.
- Critical interculturality , when referring to the impetus of a critical debate on the relations between cultures, to illuminate and question historical, colonial and racial inequalities between different cultures, fostering a high-level cultural dialogue.
Interculturality is vital in times of massive migration and cultural plurality, such as globalization. It is basically about proposing instruments to rethink the traditional social, political and economic dynamics , in which a cultural group exerts hegemony over the others.
In this sense, the concept of interculturality is more useful than that of multiculturalism or pluralism, which simply diagnoses the presence of sociocultural elements different from the traditional ones in a community .
Examples of interculturality
These are examples of intercultural relations today:
- The dynamics of international student exchange and the promotion of learning other languages (and with them, other cultures).
- The promotion of a global culture through initiatives such as UNESCO World Heritage and other similar institutions .
- The academic reassessment of cultural and social traditions previously despised for belonging to “barbaric” or “backward” peoples.
- The hybridization of markets typical of economic globalization .
Interculturality and multiculturalism
The concepts of interculturality and multiculturalism have many points of similarity, referring to the coexistence in human communities of people with different cultural backgrounds. However, multiculturalism is content with pointing out and valuing cultural plurality , often ignoring the political and historical links that exist between cultures and which are largely responsible for the place that each one traditionally occupies.
On the other hand, interculturality normally proposes an egalitarian valuation, that is, political-social relations between cultures, emphasizing synergy and points of contact, hybridization and mutual enrichment between them.