In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Intercultural Dialogue

  • Introduction
  • Multiculturalism, Interculturalism, Transculturalism, and ICD
  • Conceptual Framings of ICD
  • Operational Framings of ICD
  • Debates on ICD as Cultural Policy
  • Analytical Frameworks for ICD
  • Edited Collections
  • Special Journal Editions
  • Research Reports and Handbooks
  • Foundations and Centers

Communication Intercultural Dialogue
Nazan Haydari
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0287


Intercultural dialogue (ICD) as a concept and a focal point of discussion has appeared in a limited number of research areas since in the 1980s when multiculturalism was introduced as an alternative to assimilation-oriented policies in many societies. In the 2000s, interculturalism emerged as a response to challenges induced by globalization and transnational migration, and transculturality has (re)appeared to address the complexity in the formation of cultures. ICD was framed as an alternative cultural policy to address increasing cultural diversity. Several international organizations, including UNESCO, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations, have set intercultural dialogue as a key priority for cultural diversity management reflecting increasing interest in intercultural dialogue in policymaking contexts. For example, The Council of Europe’s White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue: Living Together As Equals in Dignity was released in 2008 and the year 2008 was announced as the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. While ICD is often perceived as a practical tool of interculturalism, a significant effort has taken place during the last decade to characterize it as a significant transdisciplinary research area. Several edited collections and special journal issues reflect these efforts. While a lack of clarity about the theoretical contributions of ICD continues, growing debates over multiculturalism, interculturalism, and transculturality in recent years have created a significant space within which the theoretical and conceptual contributions of ICD can be re-evaluated, and its definitions expanded. Critical perspectives on the adaptation of ICD into a cultural policy framework brings its instrumentalization process into discussion. While the etymological roots of dialogue back in Greek, Latin, and Plato point to the fluidity and the complexity of the concept, the literature on the meta-analysis of ICD research maps out theoretical and conceptual terrain of the field. The research emphasizing the multilayered and complex dynamics of ICD (e.g., intractable conflict cases and peacebuilding efforts) introduces new lines of inquiry and analytical frameworks in the reconceptualization of ICD. ICD is an expanding transdisciplinary research area with significant potential contributions to communication studies. While research on variety of concepts, such as intercultural competence, mediation, and interaction, contributes to the field of intercultural dialogue, they are not included in this section.

Multiculturalism, Interculturalism, Transculturalism, and ICD

The concept of multiculturalism has been challenged in political and academic discourses in the 2000s. In academic debates, it has been suggested that “multiculturalism” can be replaced by “interculturalism.” During the last decade, transcultural has been revisited in intercultural communication research to address the dynamic nature of culture, identity, and communication. This section comments on current debates on multiculturalism, interculturalism, and transculturalism. Bouchord 2011 and Zapata-Barrero 2017 point to the potential for interculturalism as a significant legitimate policy, while Modood 2018 argues in the favor of multiculturalism underlying the significance of its key features for an alternative new paradigm. Stokke and Lybæk 2018 proposes the concept of critical multiculturalism for the reconceptualization of dialogue, embracing the complex dynamics of macro level policies and micro level resistances. Ortiz 1995 (originally 1940) coins the concept of transculturalism to challenge the static interpretation of cultures. Baker 2022 and Onghena 2008 address the significance of tranculturality to explore the complexity of relations and interactions. Opposed to the essentialized interpretations of interculturality, transculturalism, and multiculturalism Guilherme and Dietz 2015 opens the roots of these concepts into discussion to move beyond essentialized interpretations of the concepts.

  • Baker, Will. 2022. From intercultural to transcultural communication. Language and Intercultural Communication 22.3: 280–293.

    DOI: 10.1080/14708477.2021.2001477

    Explores transcultural communication as a significant concept to investigate complex, fluid, and dynamic connections and interactions in language and intercultural communication. Consists of extensive discussion on the transculturality and development transcultural communication.

  • Bouchord, Gérard. 2011. What is interculturalism?. McGill Law Journal 56.2: 435–468.

    Draws from Quebec example in the Bouchard-Taylor Report to present interculturalism as a model for integration and the management of ethnocultural diversity. Consists of discussion on the characteristics of interculturalism, and locates Quebec interculturalism in relation to Canadian multiculturalism.

  • Guilherme, Manuela, and Gunther Dietz. 2015. Difference in diversity: Multiple perspectives on multicultural, intercultural, and transcultural conceptual complexities. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 10.1: 1–21.

    DOI: 10.1080/17447143.2015.1015539

    The article criticizes Western conceptualization of interculturality, transcultural, and multiculturalism from an essentialized “either-or” perspective. Drawing from two projects in the higher education institutions of Latin America, they suggest tracing the interpretations of these concepts and their deep roots in cultural, political, and academic context and ontological standpoints. A relevant discussion that illuminates the ontological and epistemological implications of the concepts in relation to non-Western setting.

  • Modood, Tarıq. 2018. Interculturalism: Not a new policy paradigm. Comparative Migration Studies 6: 22.

    DOI: 10.1186/s40878-018-0091-5

    Points to the obscurity of interculturalist approaches in the use of concepts such as local, place, and proximity that leads to a dichotomic understanding of micro and macro, and the city and national. The key features of multiculturalism are specified to be integrated into a new potential paradigm.

  • Onghena, Yolanda. 2008. Transculturalism and relation identity. Quaderns de la Mediterránia 10:181–184.

    Underlines the (re)appearance of “transcultural” in addressing the dynamic nature of culture, relations, and identity. A helpful source to trace the roots of transcultural and transculturation.

  • Ortiz, Fernando. 1995. F. Ortiz, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar. Madrid: Cátedra.

    (Cuban counterpoint: Tobacco and sugar.) A widely referenced work that traces the concept of transculturalism back to anthropology as originally defined by the Cuban ethnographer Ortiz. “Trans” is used to challenge static understanding of culture underlying the complex processes of colonization and immigration in the formation of Cuban culture. Spanish-language reprint, 2001. English edition: Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 1995.

  • Stokke, Christian, and Lena Lybæk. 2018. Combining intercultural dialogue and critical multiculturalism. Ethnicities 18.1: 70–85.

    DOI: 10.1177/1468796816674504

    With a critique of liberal multiculturalism for reflecting the state perspective, the article proposes combining intercultural dialogue with critical multiculturalism to understand the complex relationship between dialogue as a policy from above and community level minority resistances. The Mohammed cartoon affair in Norway is presented as a point of analysis.

  • Zapata-Barrero, Richard. 2017. Interculturalism in the post-multicultural debate: A defence. Comparative Migration Studies 5.14: 1–23.

    The article points to the potentials of interculturalism as a distinctive legitimate policy with emphasis on common bounds rather than differences in fostering relationship and communication among people of different backgrounds with an acknowledgement of rights-based approaches. Argues that interculturalism reassesses the problematic citizens/immigrant divide and carries the potential for xenophobia-reduction and solidarity-promotion.

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