Cultural Relativism and the Discourse of Intercultural Communication: Aporias of Praxis in the Intercultural Public Sphere
O'Regan, John P.
Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University; University of Exeter
Language and Intercultural Communication
The premise of much intercultural communication pedagogy and research is to educate people from different cultures towards open and transformative positions of mutual understanding and respect. This discourse in the instance of its articulation realises and sustains Intercultural Communication epistemologically – as an academic field of social enquiry, and judgementally – as one which locates itself on a moral terrain. By adopting an ethical stance towards difference, the discourse of intercultural communication finds itself caught in a series of aporias, or performative contradictions, where interculturalists are projected simultaneously into positions of cultural relativism on the one hand and ideological totalism on the other. Such aporias arise because the theoretical premises upon which the discourse relies are problematic. We trace these thematics to a politics of presence operating within the discourse of intercultural communication and link this to questions of judgement and truth in the intercultural public sphere. We propose that the politics of presence be set aside in favour of an intercultural praxis which is oriented to responsibility rather than to truth.
Volume 7, Number 4, pp. 267-278