Wed, Sep 11, 2013
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

September 2013 Racial Equality and Diversity Webinar: Differentiating Culture

Webinar presented by Dr. Robert Strauss, Affiliate Faculty, Department of Behavioral and School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Regis University College of Professional Studies and Managing Partner, Global Perspectives Consulting

The interculturalist's emphasis on cultural differences is in conflict with social activism's opposition to essentialism. Yet, both strongly purport to be right. Or, so this seems to be the case. What is essentialism? It is an assumption that a group of people has a fixed set of requisite attributes essential to the essence of the group (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or race). If essentialism is used by those in power to deny a group of people access to resources or recreation, then it is wrong. For example, my grandfather was initially denied membership into country club because the Board believed that, based on the pronunciation of his last name, that he was Jewish.  At the same time, interculturalists or any one of us who has traveled across the country or abroad, knows that cultural differences do exist between people groups. Not only do people from Argentina speak Castellano, but they also love futbol, especially the Boca Juniors. How do we respect known differences between people groups but at the same time not give space to illegitimate essentialism? The webinar will explore the definitions of cultural differences and essentialism. Also, participants will discuss how to reconcile these seemingly opposing assumptions. 

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