Ida Castiglioni on The Embodiment of Culture

Course Description

While the idea of “culture” is an abstraction, the actual experience we have of culture is a very concrete one. Borrowing a concept from Humberto Maturana, I have defined culture as “the praxis of living of a coordinated group of people.” Coordination within groups depends on people having a shared experience of everyday life in a particular context, such as a national, ethnic, or professional one. Human beings live life through their senses, both literally and metaphorically. Thus, our individual and collective embodied experience is a key concept for understanding culture. Culture frames the perceived experience of the senses in a particular way so that we give meaning, attribute value and feel emotion in resonance with groups of affiliation. This raises the issue of the construction of our cultural identity: how aware are we of the process, how conscious are we of the fact that it is inscribed in our body? Integrating multicultural identity means dealing with the dynamics of this process and framing them intentionally.


This course will activate this long journey of discovery that leads to incorporating intercultural competence into one’s praxis of living.


Target Group

The course is intended for participants who have attended the IDRAcademy foundation course “Constructivist Foundations of Intercultural Communication: Applying the New Paradigm” or an equivalent course (to be negotiated with IDRInstitute directors before enrollment).
Expected participants are interculturalists, counselors, educators, coaches and people with a multicultural background who wish to deepen their embodied cultural self awareness to use it in support situations and for their own enhancement of intercultural competence.



  1. Learning the evolution of the embodiment concept
  2. Reflecting on the construction of cultural identity and its embodiment
  3. Becoming culturally aware of the daily experience of the body
  4. Contacting resistance to alternative perception
  5. Understanding other people’s embodiment of culture
  6. Integrating body’s awareness into communication with different cultures (people and contexts)
  7. Learning strategies for intentionally shifting perceptual cultural framing

The course is designed like a workshop in which theoretical contents are blended with sharing of experience, physical exercises (integration of deep breathing and easy access physical movements) and individual reflections. This will be the basis for developing cultural self awareness and ability to observe oneself in working and relational contexts.

A “dinner in the dark” will be integral part of the workshop. Participants will dine in a place that simulates the experience of blindness in order to elicit other senses.


Ida Castiglioni



Dr. Ida Castiglioni has her Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication from the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). She teaches and administers the Management of Political and Social Services program in the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Milano Bicocca (Italy), and she coordinates its Erasmus Plus program.

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