Sharing an Exotic Meal as ICD

Guest PostsSharing an Exotic Meal as a Trigger of Intercultural Dialogue. Guest post by Mine Krause.

Elif Shafak’s novel The Bastard of Istanbul (Turkish title: Baba ve Piç) tells the captivating story of a Turkish and an American-Armenian-Turkish patchwork family, both female dominated. Coming from very different cultural backgrounds, the characters’ mentalities often seem incompatible. The religious Banu lives under the same roof as her atheist sister Zeliha and their Kemalist mother Gülsüm… and yet they somehow get along and even love each other in this household full of contradictory world views. The serious issues dealt with in this novel are numerous: the role of collective amnesia and individual memory, patriarchy and women’s rights, incest, identity. Among these topics is also the relationship between food experiences and intercultural dialogue.

It might seem trivial but eating habits tell us a lot about other cultures and identities. After all, “we are what we eat,” as the slogan says. When it comes to the search for identity, the universal language of food can indeed play an essential part.

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Xenophobia vs. Intercultural Dialogue

Guest PostsXenophobia vs. Intercultural Dialogue by Anastasia A. Karakitsou

https://wronghands1.com/2016/07/01/xenophobic-world-map/
Figure 1: From Atkinson, 2016.

The Psychology of Xenophobia

The term xenophobia comes from the Greek words for foreigner/ stranger (xenos) and fear (phobia) and is pretty self-explanatory: it describes the condition where I fear anything that is foreign to me (and anything that is foreign to the likes of me). Xenophobia, analysed in its roots as the age-old “fear of the unknown”, naturally generates apprehension and anxiety in the human mind (or soul, depending on your beliefs), because fear is an all-too-powerful emotion. Evolutionarily speaking, fear has been a crucial survival tool for our ancestors, as it alerted them to the surrounding dangers by activating their fight or flight response. This is why xeno-phobia encourages social discrimination and prejudice towards a specific group labelled as “fear-inducing,” i.e., as a threat to our national identity, to our racial purity, to our law and order, etc. Spurred by powerful and primeval fear, initial discrimination and prejudice may well escalate to hatred and actual, physical violence; psychologically speaking, fear is, for the most of us, too overpowering to manage and reason with.

The question is who is in the position to label x, y, z social group as a threat.

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Andalusia’s Ambivalence: Between Convivencia and Islamophobia

Guest PostsGuest post by Linda J. de Wit about Andalusia, a region that has often been described by means of “paradoxes, contradictions, syntheses or contrasts. Andalusia can at the same time be regarded as a unique case – not unusual for a frontier region – and as challenging contemporary understandings and expectations about concepts like multiculturalism and social cohesion.” 

Lion of Spain
The lion of Spain’s coat of arms as part of Islamic-style wall decoration in the royal palace in Seville. Photo by Linda J. de Wit.

Andalusia’s Ambivalence: Between Convivencia and Islamophobia
by Linda J. de Wit

The southern Spanish province of Andalusia is a much-invaded corner of Europe. Its history and culture have been shaped by peoples as distinctive as Iberians, Phoenicians, Celts, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Castilians. In the context of intercultural communication, the region is sometimes invoked by referring to the seven centuries from which it inherited its name: between 711 and 1492 it was the heartland of Spain under Islamic (Moorish) rule, Al-Andalus. This period is today often associated with the concept of convivencia: the peaceful coexistence and cultural interaction of Muslims, Christians and Jews. In this light, both Andalusia’s past and its present make interesting case studies of multiculturalism.

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Intercultural Dialogue via Organizing International Academic Conferences

Guest PostsMy name is Margarita Kefalaki and I hold a doctorate in Intercultural Communication. When I returned to Greece after 8 years study in France, I knew exactly what I would like to do: to communicate and exchange with people from all around the world. The organization of international academic conferences was a dream come true. This dream became reality with the Communication Institute of Greece (COMinG) in 2013. This association was established originally in France in 2003, under another name, but the focus on communication and interaction was always central. Academics, researchers, PhD students and anyone interested in communication, interaction, education, and exchange is welcome to join the association and/or participate in our conferences. Continue reading “Intercultural Dialogue via Organizing International Academic Conferences”

Migration, Language and Dialogue

Guest PostsMigration, Language and Dialogue
by Gabriel Furmuzachi

Migration brings with it, no doubt about it, important changes in the lives of those who chose to leave. Identity is one these fundamental changes. One needs to find one’s place and one’s self in a new environment without the benefit of a tradition and without the support of one’s family, history and language. As an immigrant, one becomes another, one’s identity has to be reassessed, built up from scratch. We are not talking here about personal identity in the sense analytic philosophy considers it. Instead, our understanding of identity relies on narratives: we come to understand ourselves and our place in the world through stories we tell or are told about ourselves. The fabric of these stories gets torn once we decide or are forced to leave. We should strive to mend it and we think one can only do this dialogically. These are the issues we will try to discuss here.

We are going to quickly follow three accounts of immigrant lives. Then we will attempt to make sense of them by appealing to a couple of philosophical concepts, namely dialogue and cosmopolitanism, which we consider to be viable solutions to the difficulties brought about by migration.

The first account we’ll talk about is the one from Strangers to Ourselves by Julia Kristeva, the second, from Eva Hoffman’s autobiographical novel Lost in Translation and the third focusing on the immigrant stories documented by the Haitian/American writer Edwidge Danticat in her Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Writer at Work.

Read the full essay.

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Amritsar: Conflict & Harmony

Applied ICDAmritsar: Conflict and Harmony
Guest Post by Linda J. de Wit

Amritsar is a medium-sized city in India serving as a tourist destination for two main reasons. First, it is the location of the holiest temple of the Sikh religion; second, it is the closest city to the Wagah border crossing with Pakistan where thousands of visitors assemble to watch the ceremonial closing of the gates every day.

The city and its surroundings have great significance in the history of Partition and the border ceremony is probably the most tangible example of the persistent tensions between the countries separated in 1947. In a remarkably aligned military drill, soldiers on both sides parade up and down, accompanied by hostile looks, aggressive hand gestures, and kicks so high they are basically standing splits. The audiences cheer every move in what almost looks like a dance-off.

When the two flags simultaneously are lowered, a single brief handshake takes place before the border gates are violently slammed shut in the neighbor’s face. The crowds applaud and shout patriotic slogans. The ceremony is a joyful event with music and dancing, having the atmosphere of a sports game. The souvenirs on the Indian side signal that the subject matter is more serious, as they boast about the “world’s largest border guarding force.” Most visitors have probably never been, and will never go, to the other side.

Back in the city, one can visit the Partition museum, the only one in the country. It recounts how the division of British India along religious lines caused millions of people to leave their homes. Amritsar’s train station saw refugees leaving in both directions, as well as packed trains arriving with no one alive, attacked because they were Muslims or Hindus.

A stone’s throw from the museum is a walled garden, Jallianwala Bagh, where a massacre took place by British forces among peaceful protesters in 1919. Gatherings had been forbidden and, without providing a warning, soldiers opened fire on the crowd for ten minutes, killing hundreds. This was one of the events that nourished the independence movement in India.

The city’s main attraction, however, is a different place, drawing more visitors than the Taj Mahal: the Golden Temple. It is the spiritual center of Sikhism because it is where the original version of the religion’s holy book lies. The Temple’s four doors symbolize that people from east, west, north and south can enter the place, irrespective of caste, creed and sex: Sikhism’s fundamental values include absolute equality and the unity of humankind.

The free information booklets distributed around the Temple describe how Sikhism holds that, in essence, all religions are an expression of the same fundamental truth. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak (1469-1539), strove to bring Hindus and Muslims together: “his life and teachings were a symbol of the harmony between the two communities.”[1]

The peaceful ambience of the Temple complex is a heartening change from the city’s gloomier connotations. Tears may spring to the visitor’s eyes, due to mountains of onions being peeled by countless volunteers: every Sikh place of worship has a common kitchen distributing free meals. At the Golden Temple some 75,000 people per day share the same food, sitting together in a row on the floor.

For the moment, such harmony is, on a larger scale, still something to strive for. Last December, the Heart of Asia peace summit took place in Amritsar, but India and Pakistan did not successfully initiate a dialogue process.[2]

The significance of Amritsar in history, as in the present, remains ambiguous. The city is the backdrop of some of the most intense examples of failing intercultural and interreligious dialogue and the consequences thereof. At the same time, as the capital of Sikhism, the city is imbued with the inclusive philosophy of tolerance and unity. For all its contrasts, Amritsar ultimately is a symbol of hope of a better future.

[1] Dr. Sir Radhkrishnan, as cited in: Singh Shan, H. (2015). Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Unique and Universal Scripture. Dharam Parchar Committee.

[2] http://www.atimes.com/inod-pak-dialogue-process-fails-launch-amritsar/

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Intercultural Challenges of the Deaf HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Intercultural Challenges of the Deaf HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Guest Post by Leila Monaghan

I grew up in New York and worked in the theatre industry in the 1980s. The profound impact of the AIDS epidemic was clear. Death was everywhere. When I returned to school to study Deaf culture I learned of the impact of AIDS on the Deaf community. One of my fellow students at the Gallaudet 1988 summer program was Gene Bourquin, part of the early Gay Men’s Health Crisis buddy network providing support for people with AIDS across New York City. From him I learned how the city’s flourishing gay Deaf community had been massively impacted. He shared the story of an isolated Deaf man in the Bronx he had worked with, his first buddy and one of the earliest to die.

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Literature for Intercultural Awareness: A “Key to Perception”?

Literature for Intercultural Awareness: A “Key to Perception”?
Guest Post by Michael Steppat (University of Bayreuth)

It has been said that literary works can benefit and advance intercultural understanding. For instance, Mazi-Leskovar maintains that “literature should alert readers to all those who are in one way or another different from the readers themselves. Literature thus encourages inter- and intracultural awareness” (2010, p. 10); “multicultural literature remains one of the sources through which issues related to intercultural communicative competence can be successfully addressed” (2006, p. 278). Wasikiewicz-Firlej (2012) explains that “works of literature enable the reader to observe the world from multifarious perspectives and cherish the diversity of individual perception. The power of literature lies in its unique ability to deeply involve the reader both at a cognitive, as well as emotional level.” Taking Japanese writer Haruki Murakami as an example, Kuryleva and Boeva have found: “The overwhelming majority of the writer’s literary heroes, placed into alien cultural environments, become the participants of intercultural communication” (2010, p. 171). This is not only a feature of recent literature, however. In the very beginning of western literary culture, Homer’s Iliad culminates in a Book 24 which poignantly depicts the furtive (and rather desperate) visit of Trojan ruler Priam in the quarters of the Greek enemy, at risk of his life.

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Peace Profile of Sebastiano D’Ambra

Peace Profile: Sebastiano D’Ambra
Guest post by Belinda F. Espiritu

A Peace Profile is a short biography about an individual peace activist or an organization dedicated to working for peace. It describes the individual or organization, what actions they have taken in working for peace, and what contributions or achievements they have made to foster peace in a particular peace issue or area of conflict.

Multiple peace profiles have been published in Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice in recent years. Among the peace activists described have been the following notable persons: Arundhati Roy, Aung San Suu Kyi, Dorothy Day, Gush Shalom, Gustavo Gutierrez, Herbert Jose de Souza, Jayanti Kirplani, Jeanette Renkin, Martin Buber, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, David Dellinger, Jayaprakash Narayan, Larry Hartfield, Le Xun, Stephen Biko, Salvador Allende, Federation of African Women’s Peace Networks, Afghan Peace Volunteers, Christiana Thorpe, and many more.

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Intercultural Communication or Post-Cultural Communication?

Guest Post by Paola Giorgis

Intercultural communication or post-cultural communication? Reflecting on mistakes in intercultural encounters

Some years ago, I worked with a total of about 350 refugees who, with the help of some radical activists, had become squatters, taking over an empty building which occupied almost an entire block. Most were from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan; the majority were young men, a few women with children, and there were one or two couples with babies. A group of associations had gathered to offer help and, as an activist and volunteer in an association for human rights, I decided to participate. With the on-and-off support of the local Institutions (mainly town council and prefecture), the group of associations developed a project which had the goal of meeting basic needs – food, shelter, health care – and then organizing the integration of the refugees into the region through accommodation, language classes and vocational training courses. What I liked about this project was that its goal was not assistance, but rather creating a path to autonomy and independence. The first to be integrated were the women with their children, then the vulnerable males (young men with diseases or handicaps), and then all the rest. The project lasted for about one year, and at the end of that time, all the refugees were, more or less successfully, integrated and settled in the region.

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