Intercultural communication in child and family health: insights from postcolonial feminist scholarship and three-body analysis

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Concerns about intercultural communication practices in child and family health were raised during a South Australian ethnographic study. The family partnership model was observed as a universal pedagogic tool introduced into the host organisation in 2003. It has a role in shaping and reshaping cultural production within child health practice. In this study, we draw on insights from postcolonial feminist scholarship together with three-body analysis to critique the theoretical canons of care that inform intercultural communication in the child and family health setting.We contend that although the family partnership model may be very useful, its intended universal application is problematic in the context of multiculture. Issues of race, gender and class were seemingly unattended when using a communication approach based in historical scientific rationalism. Liberal interpretations of discourses of equity and empathy arising out of contemporary models of communication were often adopted by child and family health nurses and protected them from seeing the inherent binaries that constrain practice. Insights from postcolonial feminist thinking enabled us to recognise the problems of applying theory to practice in a linear fashion. We demonstrate the use of three-body analysis as a deconstruction strategy to refigure how theory might be understood and worked with in the multiculture that is Australia.

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