In his opening address to the 2008 Gulbenkian conference Can There Be Life Without the Other?, the distinguished writer on cultural studies Arjun Appadurai summarises the challenge that faces us all: 'If we can agree that dialogue is always a risky affair, we can ask ourselves what risks are involved and why it is worthwhile, even compulsory, to take these risks today'.
In a time of globalisation and social instability, finding a way to live with the 'Other' has never been a more urgent obligation.
In the papers in this latest volume of the "Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation"'s conference series, thirteen authors explore the risks and the potential of communication between communities, faiths and cultures.
Each writer brings to the subject a wealth of scholarship; their disciplines encompass the social sciences, literature, art, religion and psychology.
Each brings, too, a global perspective, as a citizen of the diasporas of the twenty-first century.
They offer a politics of hope to a world in crisis.