The International Intercultural Cities Comparative Study

The idea of the ‘intercultural city’ is gaining traction around the world as a local-level policy approach which promotes cultural and social cohesion by fostering dialogue and interaction across cultural boundaries. However, the global spread of the intercultural city model has highlighted a wide variation in how the core concept of intercultural interaction is being translated into specific policies and practice (Zapata-Barrero, 2015; White 2018; Massana 2018). A crucial step towards the consolidation of the intercultural city movement therefore is a deeper understanding of the factors shaping these variations and their policy outcomes.

In a world-first, the International Intercultural Cities Comparative Study is bringing together an international team of leading intercultural cities researchers to explore how cities are implementing intercultural policies in three regions with very different histories of migration and diversity policy. The first is Europe, a region comprising ‘new immigration countries’ which have been the epicentre of both anti-multicultural sentiment and the intercultural cities approach (Zapata-Barrero, 2015). The second is North America, and specifically Canada, the ‘classical country of immigration’ recognised as both a bastion of multiculturalism and the home of its own variant of interculturalism (White, 2018).  The third region is Australasia, and specifically Australia, a ‘country of immigration’ in which multiculturalism has until recently reigned unchallenged as ‘the’ diversity approach (Ballantyne 2022). 

The study will provide an exploratory mapping of convergences and divergences in how the intercultural cities approach has been expressed in policies and practices in four intercultural cities across three countries: Spain, Canada and Australia

Participating Cities

Ballarat, Australia – Intercultural City

Ballarat is located in Victoria, Australia, approximately 105 kilometres from the state capital Melbourne. It is the state’s third most populous urban area, with an estimated population of 111,361. Australia’s first Intercultural City, Ballarat, stands on Wadawurrung country, which was heavily mined for gold in the 1850s by a large influx of many different nationalities. Ballarat’s Intercultural City Strategic Plan promotes social inclusion and wellbeing within its multicultural and Indigenous communities, highlighting the positive contributions migrants and Indigenous Australians have made to our community.

Salisbury, Australia – Intercultural City

City of Salisbury is an Intercultural City located 25km north of Adelaide in South Australia. It spans 161km2 and has over 140,000 residents and great cultural diversity. City of Salisbury acknowledges that it is on the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. The council’s vision is to be ‘a progressive, sustainable and connected community’. City of Salisbury is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone, a Welcoming City, and now an Intercultural City.

Sabadell, Spain – Intercultural City

Sabadell is a Catalan city, co-capital of the Vallés Occidental region and has a population of 207.540 registered inhabitants. Situated only 26 kilometres from Barcelona it is the fifth largest city of Catalonia. During the 19th and 20th century it was the pioneer in the industrial revolution of the textile sector in Catalonia, converting itself in the most important wool city of the Spanish state and gaining the nickname “the Catalan Manchester”.

Sherbrooke, Canada – Intercultural City

Sherbrooke, population 173,207, is the sixth largest city in Quebec and is located in the southeast of the province. Representing 50% of the Estrie region’s demographic weight, Sherbrooke is its cultural, administrative and institutional hub. The third largest immigration centre in Quebec, it has welcomed some 15,000 citizens of immigrant origin, 50% of whom are refugees. Sherbrooke is rich in cultural diversity, thanks to the more than 130 communities that make it vibrant. The city’s unique atmosphere is enhanced by the presence of these many cultures.