Achieving cross-cultural understanding

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Martineau, Wendy.

The thesis defends a form of contextual dialogical multiculturalism as necessary to the important task of achieving cross-cultural understanding. In response to the simplified accounts of culture found within abstract liberal theory and "strong" multiculturalism, the thesis develops a position that responds to the deep reality of difference and the embeddedness of persons within different horizons, whilst at the same time sensitised to the dynamic and internally diverse nature of cultural and religious communities. Engaging with claims within contemporary debates that multiculturalism segregates communities, it is argued that a form of multicultural integration is necessary to foster connection between groups. Through appeal to a range of literature, including Anglo- Indian imaginative literature and feminist discussions of culture, the thesis develops a more subtle and nuanced understanding of culture and identity as characterised by change and continuity. Using the insights of Gadamer's hermeneutic position and the feminist "world travelling" approach, it is argued that cross-cultural understanding and dialogue can be reached only through complex recognition of the situated position from which the self and the other speak. Gadamer's metaphor of an evolving "fusion of horizons" is invoked to illustrate the ability of a dialogical contextual position to mediate a path between moral relativism and abstract universalism. The compatibility of a culturally sensitive approach with a situated universalism is illustrated through discussion of the culture of human rights, which is seen as a powerful example of universalism constructed through dialogue.
  • References (1)

    146 Yasuaki, Onuma (1999) Toward an Intercivilizational Approach ot Human Rights in J. Bauer & D. Bell, eds. The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) pp. 103-123

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