There is a growing concern nowadays in culturally pluralist societies that multiculturalism as a diversity policy framework is experiencing a gradual drop in popular and political support. Yet, as research in many emigre societies shows this characterisation of the supposed failure of multiculturalism is not always supported as is the case in Australia where public support for multiculturalism and diversity remains relatively strong. Yet, many have suggested that multiculturalism at the very least is in need of conceptual recalibration in order to overcome some well publicised pitfalls such as the persistent urban segregation of certain migrant communities, the lack of engagement of mainstream/nationals, and the emerging challenges to social cohesion and national security post 9/11. It is within this context that an intercultural dialogue framework has been proposed as a possible conduit towards a new diversity governance policy framework.

Yet, despite the growing diversity of academic literature on all things ‘intercultural’, there remains an urgent need to clarify the conceptual contours for ‘interculturalism’ and to test its capacity for policy interventions and empirical applications. This is particularly the case as these applications and interventions are increasingly taking place within increasingly super-diverse settings.

On 6 August 2018, a public conversation between Prof Tariq Modood and UNESCO Chair for Comparative Research in Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, Prof Fethi Mansouri reflected on these changing global settings for diversity governance and will tried to answer questions pertaining to the following key issues:

  • Is there any credibility to the much repeated claim that multiculturalism is failing to deliver?
  • How are we to understand multiculturalism across national settings, conceptual framings and philosophical foundations?
  • What is meant by the intercultural turn in diversity management?
  • How do we understand interculturalism? And how does it differ from multiculturalism?
  • To what extent is interculturalism a replacement of multiculturalism rather than a useful correction?

This public forum explored these and other related questions and also engaged

the audience in an open Q&A facilitated by the Alfred Deakin Institute’s Professor Anita Harris.