Maynooth University Conference on Intercultural Competence

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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The International Conference on ‘Intercultural Competence: A Concept in Need of Rethinking?’ will take place at Maynooth University, from 5th – 7th September 2019.

The conference will take place at Maynooth University, North Campus, Callan Building. The conference fee will be 100 Euro, payable on arrival on 6th September (incl. lunch and tea breaks). There will also be an optional conference dinner in the evening of 6th September at a cost of 50 Euro, also payable on arrival.

About this Conference on Intercultural Competence

Over the past decades, the concept of intercultural competence has become an increasingly relevant construct for foreign-language teaching/learning, as well as for cognate disciplines such as pedagogy, psychology, anthropology, cultural studies, business management, and others. It was originally derived from Chomsky’s notion of linguistic competence, later broadened from a pragmatic point of view by Hymes to the notion of communicative competence, and then further broadened to the current concept of intercultural competence. Linguistic competence was, however, originally understood as an innate phenomenon, whereas intercultural competence obviously has to be acquired.

The recent increase inmigrants and refugees in central Europe and elsewhere and its resulting conflicts have put the concept of intercultural competence to a serious test in everyday life, which it appears to have failed in some regards. Many states in Europe and beyond are rife with socio-cultural tension, hostility, and fear, and the rise of far-right and racist political parties is only one indicator of the frictions evolving. This scenario was not what had been anticipated by the proponents of intercultural competence: there frequently seems to be no resilient third space between the cultures, and many citizens (as well as many migrants) did not develop any significant receptiveness of the cultural Other. Attitudes appear to harden, rather than to move in the direction of openness, tolerance, and understanding. Of course, there are many complex reasons playing into this scenario, but it might be time to critically revisit the concept of intercultural competence, both in terms of its underlying cultural-relativist framework and in terms of the validity of its usefulness for the disciplines of applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, intercultural and critical pedagogy, cultural studies, linguistic anthropology, language philosophy, and related areas.

Read more or register your place online.


Gemma Creagh

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