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By Manuela Guilherme

Interculturality needs to be defined in relation to concepts of multiculturalism, interculturalism and transculturality, considering the expectations which each one of them may bring to specific sociocultural communities and imagined political communities. There is no homogeneous notion of multiculturalism or interculturality as they report diversity itself and therefore one cannot refer to universal meanings of such concepts. Moreover, they are dependent on each other since intercultural relations cannot but exist on the grounds of multicultural recognition. The use and perceptions of multiculturalism and interculturality are also deeply ingrained on previous colonial matrices which enhanced either cultural and racial segregation or miscegenation. While interculturality implies an ontological situation, interculturalism stands closer to the idea of multiculturalism in that it calls for intercultural dialogue between the previously recognised different cultural identities. Critical interculturality claims for the need for “thinking Otherwise” (Walsh 2018) or for an “alternative thinking” (Santos 2018) which requires a profound transformation at the conceptual, social and political levels that can be summarised into a decolonial, inter-epistemic, intercultural “ecology of knowledges”.  Besides, either interculturality comes “from above” or “from below” which brings in the issue of asymmetric power relations between competing discourses which are not granted equity in terms of power and status 


Only recently have emotions been given relevance in studies dealing with multilingualism. Both authors point out the misunderstandings caused by different conceptual frameworks implied in intercultural communication and emotions raised by words whose translation misleadingly appear to be similar, those generally called as ‘false friends’. Different types of emotional management may then collide and cause intercultural conflict. The difference of attitudes, misinterpretation of intentions and unawareness of linguistic and intercultural subtleties and communication strategies, including norms, can mistakenly lead to stereotypes, prejudice and misunderstandings. All the above result of lay perception of intercultural communication, which is based on quick fix interaction remaining at the surface level of political, social and cultural systems. Some authors have focused on the importance of emotion recognition and emotion regulation, both supported by critical thinking, calling for (inter)cultural awareness to be perceived as a fundamental element in culturally diverse societies. On the whole, the neurological sciences have also brought in some input which clarifies how deep critical thinking, by generating a critical mind, and vice-versa, supports a rich version of critical (inter)cultural awareness that provides meaning to “feeling and knowing” (Damásio and Damásio 2020).

Related References

Collins, Haynes. 2018. “Interculturality from above and below: Navigating Uneven Discourses in a Neoliberal University System.” Language and Intercultural Communication 18 (2): 167–83. 

Damasio, Antonio, and Hanna Damasio. 2022. “How Life Regulation and Feelings Motivate the Cultural Mind.” The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Development, 15. 

Dietz, Gunther. 2018. “Interculturality.” In The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 1–19. 

Guilherme, Manuela. 2019. “The Critical and Decolonial Quest for Intercultural Epistemologies and Discourses.” Journal of Multicultural Discourses 14 (1): 1–13. 

Magalhães Lopes, Maíra. 2021. “Through Emotions – Tracing and Learning Multiple Forms of Becoming ‘Us’.” Alice News (blog). October 30, 2021. 

Oetzel, John G, and Stella Ting-Toomey. 2006. The Sage Handbook of Conflict Communication: Integrating Theory, Research, and Practice. Sage Publications. 

Pavlenko, Aneta. 2005. Emotions and Multilingualism. Cambridge University Press. 

Rajagopalan, Kanavillil. 2004. “Emotion and Language Politics: The Brazilian Case.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 25 (2–3): 105–23. 

Sousa Santos, Boaventura de. 2018. The End of the Cognitive Empire: The Coming of Age of Epistemologies of the South. Duke University Press. 

Ting-Toomey, Stella, and John G Oetzel. 2001. Managing Intercultural Conflict Effectively. Vol. 5. Sage. 

Walsh, Catherine E. 2018. “On Decolonial Dangers, Decolonial Cracks, and Decolonial Pedagogies Rising.” In On Decoloniality, 81–98. Duke University Press.

Cite this entry as:

Guilherme, Manuela. 2023. ‘Interculturality’. In Populisms and Emotions Glossary, edited by Cristiano Gianolla and Maíra Magalhães Lopes. Available atário