Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Transformation: a Feminist Perspective

Nausikaa Schirilla


The conception of intercultural dialogue is in a certain sense a contribution to conflict transformation, as many conflicts have a cultural dimension or are touching cultural problems. Therefore I will first outline in this paper what I understand by intercultural dialogue and present my idea of it. Secondly I will show in which way intercultural dialogue can contribute to conflict transformation and thirdly 1 will say what could be a feminist perspective in approaching this question.

May I start with an example and describe a situation, where an intercultural encounter is leading to conflicts and where a dialogue is necessary. In schools in Frankfurt teachers are frequently confronted with the situation that young Turkish girls are not allowed to take part in the swimming lesson as their parents assume that Islam forbids them to show themselves in a bathing suit to boys or male teachers. They think this might arise sexual desire and is forbidden by Islam. The german teachers will insist on the non sexual character of the swimming lesson and on their educational aim to enable girls to exercise their body in the water and learn how to swim. They will make use of their power and force the girls to take part, if they do not submit, the girls will get bad marks. On the other hand, the parents will stick to their position, will feel powerless and they will develop the idea that german culture is hostile to Islam. Experiences like this might further the tendency that these parents will adopt fundamentalist positions and fight against integration into german society.

Working Papers Munduan, n 2

2nd January 2008


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