The aim of the panel is to discuss how perceptions of different others change, the theoretical and methodological toolbox in research dealing with different others, conditions for inclusion and our ethical responsibilities for intercultural understanding.
Markers of differences between 'us' and 'others' are implicit in collective identity processes and construct borders between insiders and outsiders, belonging and non-belonging, normal and abnormal. However, the different other is not only an outsider but also among us. Various theories of 'outcasts' are represented in humanities and social sciences. Several definitions of the term 'outcast' might be keys to readings of the concept, because the distinctions between insiders and outsiders are always in processes of change according to places and time (see Bauman). The construction of collective identity through negative images of different others has shown its force and impact throughout history. An understanding of the organization of differences, whether marked by ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other signifiers, its functions and consequences, is a prerequisite to understanding processes of marginalization. The questions to be discussed are: How have the perceptions of different others changed in time and place? What are the emerging images of different others and why? Why are some markers of otherness so persistent while other 'aliens' are ignored? What are the conditions for inclusion of different others? What ethical responsibilities and what kind of theoretical and methodological toolbox should cultural researchers use in contemporary multicultural societies? Can or should research counteract exclusion and xenophobic images, emotions and attitudes? The panel welcomes papers with theoretical, ethical and empirical approaches to the functions and consequences of perceptions of different others and how to deal with them.