Thinking the intercultural encounter as art : aesthetic emancipation and the fiction of autonomy

Frimberger, Katja (2022) Thinking the intercultural encounter as art : aesthetic emancipation and the fiction of autonomy. In: Intercultural Communication Pedagogy and the Question of the Other, 2022-03-23 - 2022-03-23, University of Edinburgh.

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With the aim to respond to the critique of ego-centric connotation and rationalist aporias in theorisations of intercultural communication pedagogy, I will approach the question of how to think the self-other relation as an irreducible alterity from an existential and aesthetic perspective. What would it mean if we conceptualised intercultural encounters as art? Drawing on German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (2013) and educational theorist Klaus Mollenhauer's (2008), I will argue that an understanding of the mode of being of art will shine some light on the incompatibility of those notions of social and political emancipation that are at the heart of critical pedagogical models (e.g. Freire, Boal), and the aesthetic emancipation that Gadamer and Mollenhauer would posit sits at the heart of our aesthetic experiences - in life and art. The meaning of art and other cultural phenomena (like our intercultural lives) unfolds in our encounter with them, within the world of which they speak; a world which we are of course already part of. If art is knowledge, and encountering an artwork means sharing in that knowledge, how do we do justice to the truth that is revealed within this dialogue (with art, the world as other and ourselves) - beyond the mere subjectivity of the person? Aesthetic experience cannot be easily narrated in terms of rational and ethical action, expressed in words, or guarantee that the possibility for transformation - that was felt in the realm between identity and fiction (when encountering art) - will manifest in everyday reality afterwards. Aesthetic effects pose a provocation for education and intercultural communication pedagogy tied to episteme and praxis. Mollehauer suggests that the utopian territory of aesthetic emancipation is the (contingent) 'I's self-image, which becomes accessible to others only in the (retrospective) description of aesthetic experience. What happens to intercultural communication pedagogy when it has to theoretically capitulate in the face of intercultural encounters as art?