Interculturalism as a means toward cultural inclusiveness and cross-cultural dialogue:
The case of Panama’s Ngäbe
Using a case study approach, this article explores the role of the Jose Domingo de Obaldia maternity hospital in Western Panama, and its policies and practices for responding to the cultural differences between Panamanian hospital staff and pregnant Ngöble Buglé patients, and their different understanding of health and illness that has been shaped by principles of traditional medicine. Using a range of in-depth interviews with hospitality staff and management and intercultural interpreters, this study explores how cultural aspects and differences can be of a compound and complex nature, requiring strong intercultural understanding, awareness and
cross-cultural dialogue. The case of the Ngöble Buglé illustrates how interculturalism can foster such cultural inclusiveness and cross-cultural dialogue, and how interculturalism can have implications for other Indigenous communities in Latin America, and for non-Indigenous communities facing increasingly cultural diverse environments and contexts.