The Multicultural Workplace and the Impact of Rising Resentment of Non-dominant Cultures

23-25 November, 2017, Jyväskylä, Finland

Processes and strategies for initiating, maintaining, and furthering intergroup interaction or research

Interculturalists around the globe for decades have been dedicating their “life’s work to building bridges among cultural differences, softening barriers to living life with cultural others.” International organizations have long recognized that cultural differences impact cross-cultural communication and therefore organizational success, and intercultural trainers are providing members of international organizations with cultural awareness, understanding of the value of cultural differences and skills for adapting styles and behaviors to enable culturally different colleagues to work successfully together.

The challenges created by human movement and relocation in the 21st century, by choice or in response to human-made or natural disasters, has ignited a trend where many people and in fact nations have taken defensive lines and discourse as a means to protect their cultural identities. Few groups have enjoyed Donald Trump’s rise to the White House more than Europe’s far-right white nationalists, who have forged closer links with like-minded groups in the U.S. and benefited from Trump’s perceived sympathy for strands of their radical politics.

Yet this is a trend that has been building for years. In July of 2011, a gunman described as a right-wing Christian extremist with a hatred of Muslims and ties to right wing Neo Nazis opened fire at an island youth camp in Norway targeting Muslim youth. The toxic combination of the most prolonged period of economic stagnation and the worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War has seen the far-Right surging across the continent, from Athens to Amsterdam and many points in between.

Daniel Friberg, a prominent figure in the Swedish radical right identitarian movement, who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville is a clean-cut, smooth-talking far-right activist who describes himself as an identitarian. The French-originated ideology, increasingly influential among European far-right youth, argues for the preservation of a white or European identity, while, in theory, attempting to decouple from the overt racism, violence, and fascist symbolism that have been a barrier to the far-right’s political acceptability in post-war Europe. He sees “identitarian” and “alt-right” as largely synonymous terms.

What happens when this form of right wing ideology makes its way into the workplace and in the classrooms of interculturalists? What methods or philosophies exist to challenge this rhetoric, or prevent it from taking over the classroom?

In this interactive workshop, participants will explore the mindset and philosophy of this new breed of smooth-talking far-right activist or identitarians and the European far-right who argue for the preservation of a white or European identity. Following this interactive discussion participants will break into small groups to explore the complex dynamics of a multicultural workplace and the impact of rising resentment of non-dominant culture populations by these extremist groups. They will then be asked to identify training approaches and strategies specifying the most critical issues of identity xenophobia and how to address them in the classroom.

In the report out each team will be asked to share their group’s ideas along with their own experiences  facing these critical issues in the classroom and how interculturalists can more effectively challenge this growing right wing isolationist philosophy.

The overall goal of the session is to encourage intercultural trainers to identify approaches to challenging right wing isolationist philosophy and strengthen training programs around the globe.

Workshop leader and facilitators include  Elmer Dixon, Executive Diversity Services and Dr. George Simons.

Rise of Identitarianism

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