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On the Paradox of ‘Organised’ Encounter

Wilson, Helen F.

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Encounters are politically and pedagogically charged. They have long been celebrated for their ability to chip away at prejudices, enact cultural destabilisations, shape subjectivities, and produce new knowledges. Yet encounters come with risk. The paper argues that encounters should be taken as very specific genres of contact and offers a conceptual interrogation of the notion of encounter, and its (dis)organisation, as a way of reflecting on the paradox of ‘organised encounter’. In particular, the paper suggests that the promise and hope of organised encounter stands in tension with the recognition that encounters are inherently unpredictable –that they are about rupture and surprise. Taking this tension forward, the paper asks what possibilities remain for forms of planned encounter in intercultural contexts and focuses on two concerns. First, a concern with what happens when something that is inherently unpredictable becomes a site of intervention and secondly, a concern with the risks of encounter, and for whom the risks are most acutely felt. It finishes by reflecting on what it might mean to keep hold of the unpredictability of encounter in organised settings and what it means for questions of difference, power, and privilege.


Wilson, H. F. (2017). On the Paradox of ‘Organised’ Encounter. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 38(6), 606-620.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 12, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 3, 2017
Publication Date Nov 3, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2019
Journal Journal of Intercultural Studies
Print ISSN 0725-6868
Electronic ISSN 1469-9540
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 6
Pages 606-620


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