The article introduces the special issue by presenting the concept of organised cultural encounters that are encounters organised to manage and/or transform problems perceived to originate in or include cultural differences. Inspired by Pratt’s conceptualisation of the contact zone, a critical perspective on the particular historical and spatial context of any encounter and how this context frames and mediates what takes place during an encounter is applied. While the articles of the issue present different varieties of organised cultural encounters, it is argued that they are not only of the same kind because of our analytical framework, but also because they share various features. They are scripted events tied to the particular social arena with which the encounter is associated and thus shaped in important ways by the existing norms, discourses, roles and hierarchies that govern these arenas. Furthermore, they also share the idea that the transformative potential of the encounter is inherently risky, since their potentiality is tied in with unpredictability, while risk cannot be left out because it at the same time is a precondition for transformation. The articles of the issue illustrate how script and risk come up in a different way.