Intercultural relations between identity and otherness: a socio-semiotic analysis

Giorgio Borrelli


From a socio-semiotic perspective, translation – understood in its inter-lingual and inter-semiotic dimension – represents a fundamental theoretical/methodological instrument for the study of intercultural relations.

Dialectics between identity and otherness is, first of all, dialectics between different signs. On the one hand, signs make difference: indeed, every culture, by means of its (verbal and non-verbal) signs, distinguishes itself from the others, and affirms its identity. Social and cultural distinctions are distinctions made of and by signs; in this case – paradoxically –, difference means identity. But if we consider as a fact that different cultures produce different signs, and if we consider every sign as interpretable, then we also have to admit that intercultural translation is possible. From such a perspective, difference makes signs, and translation constitutes the semiotic process through which new sign systems could arise from the dialogical encounter between differences. Rather than closing in a community identity, opening to otherness represents the new intercultural challenge for Contemporaneity.

Parole chiave

Cultural identity; Jus-naturalism; Human rights; Ideology; Signs systems; Logic of Identity; Logic of Otherness; Socio-semiotics; Inter-lingual and Inter-semiotic Translation

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