Front cover of program brochure for InterculturAdelaide. Picture: Nazia Ejaz.
Today, I hosted a major public event called InterculturAdelaide. The event introduction that I wrote for the brochure is below, along with my welcome to participants.
InterculturAdelaide is a major public policy summit and action research project. It aims to bring together scholars, policymakers and other stakeholders to consider the idea of “interculturality”—broadly defined as a set of cultural skills supporting openness and adaptivity. The day’s proceedings will encompass issues related to Australia’s own diverse population, and to Australia’s international relationships across the Asian region.
InterculturAdelaide is embedded within the final day of the Ninth International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS9), which has brought nearly 1,000 Asia scholars to Adelaide this week.
InterculturAdelaide is supported by the South Australian Government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet.
InterculturAdelaide is an innovative public policy and action research summit set inside the Ninth International Convention of Asia Scholars. It is designed with connections in mind, namely to link this week’s discussion about Asia and Asians to new Australian conversations about our own diversity.
Since the 1970s abolition of the White Australia policy and Australia’s official embrace of multiculturalism, migrant diaspora populations have become integral to the nation. Since the 1990s foreign policy turn to Asia, these same diasporas have joined in the nation’s efforts to improve our engagements with the region around us.
No longer a “white tribe of Asia”, as Indonesian journalist Ratih Hardjono put it in 1994, Australians now find that Asian engagement is firmly a part of the nation’s domestic life — it is not only a feature of international relations.
Increasing diversity and enmeshment with Asia call for improved initiatives which build Australians’ capacity for smart, sensitive interaction across and between varied cultural contexts, including those created by politics and faith. It is our contention at InterculturAdelaide that this capacity is best supported by a new policy framework designed not only to manage, but to live and experience, the diversity inherent in our community.
In the interest of improved understanding and a more resilient and cohesive national community, new policy frameworks to support this experience should be brought together under a common rubric. At InterculturAdelaide, we propose that this new rubric is “interculturality” — broadly defined as a set of attitudes and skills that leverage our multiculturalism to raise our levels of cultural adaptivity.
To explore this proposition, we have brought together scholars, communities and policy practitioners from a wide range of communities of interest. We encourage you to participate and inform our discussion. Our summit, in turn, will inform a policy paper for the Government of South Australia.
On behalf of our team, including Co-Convener Dr Gerry Groot and Project Coordinator Ms Annie Drahos, I welcome you to InterculturAdelaide.
- First published in the InterculturAdelaide program booklet, the full text of which is available here.