Intercultural personhood: A non-essentialist conception of individuals for intercultural research

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In this article, I, following Kim (2008, 2015), explore the concept ‘intercultural personhood’. To do so, I use creative-arts methods to enable students’ meaning-makings about ‘who I am’ in their intercultural experience. Based upon the imaginative arts-mediated meaning-makings of four students at a culturally-diverse UK university, I provide a conceptualisation of intercultural personhood as: a personalised hybrid construct of change and exchange which is negotiated through multipolarised tensions of being. This conceptualisation liberates the conception of individuals from essentialist and reductionist identifications. It extends Kim’s discussion of ‘intercultural personhood’ by a) avoiding a self-other orientation, and b) foregrounding the aspect of ‘personhood’. This conceptualisation recognises that a person constructs their ‘self’ through the reciprocal relativity of exchange, and exists in the fluidity of living and their agency for negotiation. Their deliberate living and negotiation stretch across the multipolarised tensions/dilemmas of normal humanities, revolving around the fragile core of self-existence. My conceptual exploration about intercultural personhood provides a step towards the operationalisation of non-essentialist thinking in understanding individuals and their experiences for intercultural research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalLanguage and Intercultural Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2020


  • Intercultural personhood
  • arts methods
  • intercultural education
  • intercultural experience
  • non-essentialism


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