Source: (2004) In Catherine Bell and David Kahane, eds, Intercultural Dispute Resolution in Aboriginal Contexts. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Pp. 70-93.

Theories of intercultural understanding are generally required and formulated in response to conflict between members of different cultures, when differing belief systems or worldviews grate against one another more sharply in the presence of a specific contested resource, value or belief. In such a situation, a theory of intercultural understanding serves as the underpinning for a practical approach to intercultural negotiation aimed at resolving the conflict. In the wake of a general apprehension by Europeans of the existence of the profoundly different civilizations in the inhabitants of other continents in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the colonial era that followed, such situations of conflict have arisen with destructive frequency between members of the dominant societies of “post”-colonial powers and members of formerly colonized peoples within those states or their former satellites. The following story drawn from the long history of these clashes helps to illustrate why approaches to intercultural negotiation that do not place a premium upon the pursuit of the intercultural understanding are unhelpful in achieving lasting resolutions of such disputes. (excerpt)