Thick Description as a Tool for ICD

Resources in ICD“ width=Leeds-Hurwitz, W. (2019). Thick description. In P. Atkinson, S. Delamont, M.A. Hardy, & M. Williams (Eds.), SAGE research methods foundations [Online]. doi: 10.4135/9781526421036765746

Several years ago I was asked to write about “thick description,” a concept used mostly by ethnographers. Briefly, thick description recognizes complexity and the role of context. It is often contrasted with “thin description,” understood to be limited and superficial.

Thick description typically takes a semiotic approach, emphasizing how people construct and convey meaning through signs and symbols, both for themselves and others.

The volume has just been published, which leads me to think about ways in which thick description might be useful to understanding and encouraging intercultural dialogue. The essay describes some research by Jeff Todd Titon which points in a useful direction. Titon is an ethnomusicologist who “proposes a move to multivoiced interpretive accounts, that is, ensuring that multiple voices be heard—not only that of the ethnographer but also those of multiple informants from different positions, exploring potential gaps or disagreements. He emphasizes dialogue (including study participants speaking back to the ethnographer), questioning the analysis, as well as ethnomusicology in the public interest.”

“Ensuring that multiple voices be heard” – now that seems useful to intercultural dialogue! So a thick description will typically involve multiple layers of meanings, supplied by different participants, gathered over time, which together permit a better understanding of human behavior by interweaving separate descriptions into a single, complex whole.

U New Mexico State U: Cultural/Intercultural Comm (USA)

“JobAssistant Professor in Cultural/Intercultural Communication and/or Health Communication, Department of communication Studies, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM. Deadline: November 1, 2019.

The Department of Communication Studies at New Mexico State University seeks to hire one tenure-track faculty member to begin in the fall semester of 2020. The department seeks a colleague to teach and conduct empirically-based research in cultural/intercultural communication and/or health communication. Other desired areas of scholarship include communication theory, communication technology/social media, quantitative or qualitative research methods, and/or experience in the basic course in Communication.

Queensland U Technology: Digital Media & Comm (Australia)

“JobAssociate Professor in Digital Media and Communication, School of Communication, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Deadline: 20 October 2019.

The School of Communication seeks an Associate Professor who can develop and teach subjects in the School’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses, contribute to the research themes in the Digital Media Research Centre, and supervise higher degree research students.

The School of Communication is in a phase of expansion and renewal and seeks an Associate Professor who can develop and teach subjects in the School’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses, contribute to the research themes in the Digital Media Research Centre, and supervise higher degree research students.

The department is interested in strengthening their capacity in innovative blended and digital approaches to learning and teaching and one or more of the following research areas and teaching areas (both undergraduate and postgraduate coursework): complementarity between digital communication and media industry studies; the future of digital media platforms, industries, and economies; critical data studies and digital methods; social media; algorithmic culture; emergent business practices and branding strategies; policy developments in music and other entertainment industries. Expertise in social media industries and platforms in Asian contexts will be advantageous.

Furman U: Open Rank Faculty in Civic Communication Processes (USA)

“JobOpen Rank- Assistant, Associate, or Professor of Communication Studies (Civic Communication Processes), Furman University, Greenville, SC. Deadline: Open until filled; posted September 12, 2019.

The Department of Communication Studies at Furman University invites applications for an open rank tenure-track position. The ideal candidate will demonstrate excellence in teaching and a vibrant research agenda in the study of civic communication processes which include dialogue, deliberation, organizing, and media creation and circulation. We welcome applications from scholars in communication fields as diverse as health, sport, environment, non-profit, risk, conflict resolution, or social justice and reconciliation. Our curriculum features both a Rhetoric & Advocacy track as well as a Media Studies track in a rigorous liberal arts context.

The successful candidate will create and teach innovative upper-level courses in their area of expertise that aligns with these tracks. They will also be responsible for foundational courses of public speaking or digital storytelling; introductory-level courses; and research methods courses.

Mi’kmaq Version of Beatles ‘Blackbird’ (Canada)

Applied ICDVan Evra, Jennifer. (1 May 2019). Cape Breton student sings beautiful Mi’kmaq rendition of the Beatles’ Blackbird’. CBC Radio.

This essay and video about a translated song serve as a reminder that language and culture are bound together, and thus that intercultural dialogue has an important link to multilingualism.

“Blackbird is one of the Beatles’ most beloved songs — and now a small East Coast school has made it their own by creating a rendition in the Mi’kmaq language. Music students at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia created the cover as part of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, a United Nations initiative aimed at raising awareness of endangered Indigenous languages around the world. Led by music teacher Carter Chiasson, students recorded the Paul McCartney classic in their native Mi’kmaq language, with translation by Chiasson’s colleagues Katani Julian and Albert ‘Golydada’ Julian.”

CFP Communication Media & Governance in the Age of Globalization (China)

ConferencesCall for papers: Third Biennial Conference on Communication, Media, and Governance in the Age of Globalization, June 19-21, 2020, Communication University of China, Beijing, China. Deadline: November 1, 2019.

The National Communication Association (NCA) announces the Third Biennial Conference on Communication, Media, and Governance in the Age of Globalization, to be held on the Beijing campus of the Communication University of China (CUC), June 19-21, 2020. The conference seeks to foster greater understanding between and collaboration among Chinese scholars of Communication and a wide range of international colleagues affiliated with NCA.

For this event, organizers will be using the United Nation’s “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs). Approved in 2000, and signed by all 191 UN members, the MDGs serve as benchmarks in human development, quality of life, and global partnership.

CFP Language Epistemology & Politics of Knowledge Production

“PublicationCall for Papers for a Themed Issue: Language, Epistemology and the Politics of Knowledge Production, Journal of Language, Culture and Society. Deadline: November 15, 2019.

Editors invite abstracts for full-length manuscripts to be published in Language, Culture and Society (LCS) as part of a themed issue on Language, Epistemology and the Politics of Knowledge Production.

In the first two editorials of the journal editors argued for an approach to knowledge on language and culture as a terrain of struggle. This, they believe, requires close attention to how our analytical and conceptual choices, the collaborations we engage with, the academic and political agendas we pursue and the ways we relate our work to knowledge produced by others get entrenched with complex dynamics of power and inequality characterizing both the academic fields and the social world at large.

Editors invite contributions aiming to explore how these processes are re-articulated through the very epistemological choices that we researchers as knowledge producers make in the language disciplines. They welcome texts addressing the political nature of such choices by critically engaging with frameworks that may have contributed to normalize meanings of empirical neutrality and universality. This may include issues concerned with any aspect of data generation/analysis as well as with our own writing in the packaging of the stories that we claim to document.

CFP: Language & Migration (USA)

ConferencesCall for papers: Language and Migration: Experience and Memory, MAY 7-9, 2020, New York City and Princeton University. Deadline: November 1, 2019.

Migration Lab: People and Cultures across Borders, Princeton University and The Study Group on Language and the United Nations announce a collaborative symposium on “Language and Migration: Experience and Memory” MAY 7-9, 2020.

  • Part I, New York City: Thursday May 7 to Friday May 8, noon, will consider how language affects the experiences of permanently or temporarily settled refugees and migrants, those in transit, and the larger population around them. Keynote Speaker: Ingrid Piller, Professor of Applied Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

  • Part II, Princeton University:  Friday evening May 8 to Saturday, May 9, evening, will focus on memory in the cultural work of migrants and immigrants. Keynote Speaker: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer.

Language is a vital, but underexplored, factor in the lives of migrants, immigrants and refugees. It has a direct impact on the experiences and choices of individuals displaced by war, terror, or natural disasters and the decisions made by agents who provide (or fail to provide) relief, services, and status. Distilled through memory, it shapes the fictions, poems, memoirs, films and song lyrics in which migrants render loss and displacement, integration and discovery, the translation of history and culture, and the trials of identity.

This interdisciplinary, international symposium on Language and Migration will examine the role of language in the lives and works of migrants.

Germany Talks: Creating Within Country Dialogues

Applied ICD

In 2017, Zeit Online (the online platform for the Germany newspaper Die Zeit) organized the first ever My Country Talks event, Germany Talks.

“The idea for the first Germany Talks event came about after Donald Trump had been elected president, Britain had voted for Brexit and France was on the verge of electing a right-wing president. Western societies seemed increasingly divided.

ZEIT ONLINE’s editorial team asked itself: What can we do to overcome polarization? How can we help our readers to have a conversation outside their own filter bubble?

On May 4, 2017, ZEIT ONLINE posted a widget on its homepage with the question: “May we introduce you to someone?” After a couple of weeks, 12,000 people had registered through the widget in the hopes of meeting someone in their neighborhood with a different political perspective.”

Germany Talks led to the creation of My Country Talks. In 2018, comparable events were organized for Italy, Austria, Germany (again), and Switzerland. In 2019, Finland, Belgium, Italy, all of Europe, Norway, Denmark, and Britain held events.

Stanford U: Assistant Professor in Muslim Societies (USA)


Assistant Professor in Muslim Societies, Stanford Global Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Deadline: October 25, 2019.


Stanford University invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor faculty position focused on the culture, economics or politics of Muslim societies. They especially welcome applications from scholars who are studying Muslim societies in Iran and Central Asia, as well as South, Southeast and East Asia.

The successful applicant for this position will be appointed in one of the following departments within the School of Humanities and Sciences: Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Political Science, or Sociology. The successful applicant will have teaching and advising responsibilities in their home department and will also be expected to contribute to the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies’ curricular and outreach efforts.

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