When dialogue fails: an art educator’s autoethnographical journey towards intercultural awareness

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Eeva Anttila


In P. Burnard, E. MacKinlay & K. Powell (Eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Intercultural Arts Research, Routledge, London and New York, p.296-307 (2016)


In this chapter, the author investigates her professional practice in the context of arts education and revisits her doctoral study (Anttila, 2003) on dialogical dance pedagogy. She connects Martin Buber’s ideas about dialogue with Homi Bhabha’s (1994) notion of cultural hybridities, and presents the notion of intercultural awareness. She suggests that this notion, theoretically inspired by Buber’s dialogical philosophy and Bhabha’s post-colonialism, may be helpful in understanding and fostering social change. Moreover, she wonders if educators and researchers aiming for social change should examine their professional practice from the viewpoint of intercultural awareness. She then turns her focus towards her own professional practice. Utilizing autoethnographical and performative writing she explores ways to research “in-betweenness”. In conclusion, she proposes that arts educators and researchers interested in fostering social change through heightened intercultural awareness need to give up the search for coherence and cherish the emergence of hybrid spaces where difference may be performed and mutated. Being open for constant transformation is risky but may open new possibilities to live together.