THE CONCEPT

Common sense and political correctness tell us that stereotypes are prejudices, which should be avoided. Contemporary research, however, indicates that stereotypes and prejudices are very different phenomena and that stereotypes persist in spite of educational efforts. The DEVHAS project has developed and examined a new hypothesis to make sense of stereotypes and their persistence: stereotypes function as heuristics for social interaction between groups. Rather than describing people, they transmit instructions to a certain group of human beings for going about with another group.

For example, the stereotype 'Indians are unreliable' does not give us a description of the world. It does not say that all Indians are unreliable, that a certain percentage of the Indians are unreliable, or even that some Indians are unreliable. Rather, it provides a horizon of expectations for Europeans to go about with Indians. ‘Europeans are racist’ is another example: it does not tell us that no or some Europeans are racist’; rather it provides Asians with instructions about what to expect when dealing with Europeans.

Some of the consequences of the DEVHAS hypothesis are: (1) stereotypes are neither true nor false; (2) we cannot fight stereotypes the way we fight factual statements about the world, by trying to provide correct information; (3) we will find stereotypes in all social interactions; (4) we will also find stereotypes in personal relationships and in images of the self; (5) since stereotypes have everything to do with social interaction, and social interaction differs in different cultures, the presence and use of stereotypes will indicate cultural differences. This means that one culture may use stereotypes in a different way than another culture.

In Going Beyond the Stereotypes, this new way of thinking about stereotypes will be explored, explained and illustrated by international academics and political, business and educational experts from Europe and South Asia. The aim is twofold: (1) to have participatory work sessions in which the audience will have the opportunity to discuss the topics with the academics and experts, and (2) to develop accessible strategic and policy recommendation documents on the stereotypes between Europe and South Asia.