Research Output

‘Intercultural competence’ as an intersubjective process: a reply to ‘essentialism’

  In this paper, we problematise a competence-oriented reflective approach to intercultural education by drawing on four students’ reflective essays about their experiential learning experiences on an ‘Intercultural Competence’ (IC) module. Their reflections sometimes evidence much-vaunted IC attributes such as ‘tolerance’ and ‘empathy’, but often indicate individually-developed, non-teleologically based IC criteria. Furthermore, reflection was often painful and at times led to a ‘falling back on’ essentialist notions of culture. We suggest that rather than reject essentialism as a ‘simplistic’ starting point, it should be recognised as existing symbiotically with non-essentialist notions and could be used critically throughout intercultural learning.

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  • Date:

    13 December 2017

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  • Library of Congress:

    HT Communities. Classes. Races

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    303 Social processes

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Zhou, V. X., & Pilcher, N. (2018). ‘Intercultural competence’ as an intersubjective process: a reply to ‘essentialism’. Language and Intercultural Communication, 18(1), 125-143.



intercultural competence; essentialism; non-essentialism; reflection; experiential learning

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