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A philosophical reflection on the role of culture in international relation

Barnabas Obiora Idoko


Man is a social animal. As such, throughout the long history of mankind, men and women from different cultural backgrounds have had cause to interact, both on the level of individual and as cultural groups bringing about cultural crosspollinations. Sometimes, this intercultural encounter leads to the enrichment of the cultures involved or to a cultural hybridization birthing a new culture altogether. At other times, the encounter results in conflict or what has come to be described in international studies as the ‘clash of cultures’. No other time in history is this phenomenon of cultural conflict more prevalent than in our time and no area is it more emphasized than at the level of international relations where globalization has enhanced the meeting and interaction of people and nations from different cultures. This paper applies the philosophical method of analysis to investigate how inter-cultural dialogue can be deployed as a means of fostering international peace. The paper discovered that culture, though an under-emphasized element in mainstream international relations studies is a key determinant of how nations conduct their affairs internationally. To this end, it recommended that encouraging the respect of other people’s cultures and intercultural dialogue, especially at the level of the relations between states is one of the most effective ways of mitigating conflicts in this age of globalization and multiculturalism.