Volume 1, Issue 1  April 2018, pp. 12–26          Download PDF

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Interculturality in a different light: Modesty towards democracy in education?

Yongjian Li https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8645-25311, Fred Dervin https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9371-27172

1 Renmin University of China, China yongjian.li@helsinki.fi
2 University of Helsinki, Finland fred.dervin@helsinki.fi

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v1n1.28


This article problematizes interculturality in relation to how the notion of democracy is constructed, especially in education. Discourses of democracy have become more central in "interculturalspeak" (a somewhat uncritical approach to intercultural matters), especially after the mass arrival of asylum seekers and the spread of terrorism around the world. The authors challenge the often Western-centric considerations of the Other's democracy, through a close reading of a Chinese textbook. China seems to represent the Other par excellence when democracy is discussed. The article does not decide "subjectively" which country is better than others at "doing" democracy, especially in education. Neither do the authors wish to accuse anyone of "doing" it wrongly. What is demonstrated is that the topic of "democracy" is indeed found in China's secondary school textbooks. The following questions are asked: Which topics are covered? How is democracy problematized explicitly/implicitly? What potential similarities are to be found with the "Western" understanding of democracy? This rare insight into discourses of democracy (the changing self; relations between self-other; citizenship, rights, duties in the textbooks) from China proposes to rethink how we see self-other in intercultural terms, to develop more intercultural modesty and to learn with each other rather than against or merely from the other.


© Yongjian Li, Fred Dervin

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Li, Y., & Dervin, F. (2018). Interculturality in a different light: Modesty towards democracy in education? Intercultural Communication Education, 1(1), 12–26. https://doi.org/10.29140/ice.v1n1.28

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