CFP Translation, Cosmopolitanism & Resistance

Journal of Communication and Culture

Theme: Translation, Cosmopolitanism & Resistance
Coordination: Maria Alexandra Lopes
Deadline for submission of original articles: 30th November 2014

Throughout history, translation has always been a site of multiple, often conflicting political, social and aesthetic agendas. Translation has diversely proven a pathway to conquering and steamrolling others into conformity, a locus of resistance and preservation of difference, as well as a space of dialogue between disparate worldviews. In either of these guises, translation has always had a powerful impact on different areas of human experience, from religion to science, from the media to politics, the economy and literature (Woodsworth and Delisle: 1995, 2012).

As an act of negotiation, translation is inextricably linked to processes of exchange of goods and ideas, cosmopolitization, hybridization and mobility (Cronin, 2002, 2010). Resistance, on the other hand, depicts a large array of attitudes, mentalscapes, emotions, political gestures that react against any given circumstance. ‘Resistance’ is taken here as a broad concept encompassing different meanings: on the one hand, the at times strong and/or violent opposition to something extant (the status quo, bigotry, censorship, ideology, globalization, etc.) or to come (new ideas, technology, value systems, etc.); and on the other hand, the ability to remain immune to something (other people, revolutionary trends, innovation, new ways of thinking, etc.). Thus, resistance may imply movement or immobility, creativity or epigone-like repetition, conservatism or unconventionalism with the decision to translate is often governed by one impulse or the other, depending on the degree of interest in change/preservation a given community evinces (Venuti, 2013).

The present issue of Comunicação & Cultura wishes to address and highlight modes of resistance and cosmopolitanism that translation may have promoted or facilitated down the ages and, especially, in the present time, thus reflecting upon the role and the effects of translation in different media, in the shaping of present-day politics and global economy, in acquainting a given culture with different patterns of behaviour, ways of life, narratives and geographies. As a potent tool for spreading ideas and ideologies, translation helps shape worldviews and social attitudes in indelible ways that need further investigation.

Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue #2: Cosmopolitanism by Miriam Sobre-Denton

Key Concepts in ICDThe second issue of Key Concepts in intercultural Dialogue is now available. This is KC2: Cosmopolitanism by Miriam Sobre-Denton. As always, all Key Concepts are available as free PDFs; just click on the thumbnail to download. Lists organized  chronologically by publication date and numberalphabetically by concept in English, and by languages into which they have been translated, are available, as is a page of acknowledgments with the names of all authors, translators, and reviewers.

CosmopolitanismSobre-Denton, M. (2014). Cosmopolitanism. Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue, 2. Available from:

The Center for Intercultural Dialogue is publishing a series of short briefs describing Key Concepts in intercultural Dialogue. The logic is that different people, working in different countries and disciplines, use different vocabulary to describe their interests, yet these terms overlap. Our goal is to provide some of the assumptions and history attached to each concept for those unfamiliar with it. As there are other concepts you would like to see included, send an email to the series editor, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz. If there are concepts you would like to prepare, provide a brief explanation of why you think the concept is central to the study of intercultural dialogue, and why you are the obvious person to write up that concept.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Why Cosmopolitanism?

Guest PostsWhy Cosmopolitanism? Guest post by Miriam Sobre-Denton.

Ah, cosmopolitanism.  The first time I found you, I was taking a class on global and transnational ethnography with Dr. Takeyuki Tsuda.  I read an article by Ulf Hannerz titled Cosmopolitans and Locals in World Culture.  He has since retracted many of the things he wrote in this article.  And yet, for the first time, I felt that I had read an intercultural theory (in an anthropology class, no less) that actually applied to my life.  So much of the work I’d done up until this point examined intercultural theories that provided dichotomies.  You were EITHER individualist OR collectivist.  When you travel, you EITHER make friends from your home culture OR your host culture.  You are EITHER a patriot OR an interculturalist.  Profoundly unsatisfying to me, as my experiences often hinged on dialectical tensions and dialogical experiences—those moments that exist between the both/and, rather than the either/or.  Cosmopolitanism was the first theory I’d ever read that said you could be BOTH rooted AND rootless; BOTH local AND global; that maybe you would be the most comfortable with others who experienced similar tensions, who live in spaces of in-between-ness.

And then the backlash set in.  Cosmopolitanism, you were not what I thought you were!  Cosmopolitanism, I was informed, really isn’t a theory of both/and.  This is a theory of exclusivity, of the ‘class consciousness of frequent travelers’; sure there was a sense of both/and-ness, but only for those privileged enough to be able to engage in voluntary sojourns that inevitably involve Western imperialism and cultural commodification.  Why would anyone want to study this concept? I was interrogated about the inherent violence that cosmopolitanism—particularly in its Kantian and previously Greco-Roman Stoic iterations.  This is a theory of global citizenship only accessible to those who have the privilege of being citizens in that kind of world.

And yet, cosmopolitanism, you continued to proliferate, to grow in breadth and depth.  From when I first learned the term in 2006, to the present day (2014), cosmopolitanism theorists flocked to you, across disciplines ranging from sociology and political economy to religious studies and linguistics.  Everyone was coming to the party—which also involved directly addressing the critiques of elitism and western imperialism brought with such ferocity by its opponents.  Forms of vernacular, non-Western, non-elite and critical cosmopolitanism, which have actually been around since its nascence in places like ancient China in the philosophies of Mo Tzu and Mencius, as well as being promoted by the African philosophy of Maat, are resurfacing in work by such scholars as Pnina Werbner, George Delanty and Walter Mignolo.

In intercultural communication, we are, to extend the metaphor, late to your party.  Intercultural communication scholars, particularly those who embrace critical and postcolonial approaches, are only now beginning to accept that this cosmopolitanism a term that is growing in strength, rather than waning.  As the world shrinks and difference becomes something that can no longer be hidden from (if it ever could), cosmopolitanism in its critical and vernacular forms has reemerged as a theory for our time, which insists not that we should all embrace each others’ many and varied values, but rather that we should understand that we all have values, and all hold those values dear to ourselves and the people and things we love.  This kind of dialogic empathy requires hope as an approach to non-binary thinking.  Cosmopolitanism is not a project that can be forced upon people; instead, it must be voluntarily embraced as an ethic of care for the world, from those next door to those across the ocean.   My colleague Dr. Nilanjana Bardhan and I have recently published a book titled Cultivating Cosmopolitanism for Intercultural Communication:  Communicating as Global Citizens, in which we propose cosmopolitanism’s use for our discipline as a space of hopeful dialogue to move from either/or to a space of both/and.  Cosmopolitanism, you may not be the answer, but you certainly deserve to be a part of both the discipline the dialogue.

Download the entire post as a PDF.

Building bridges from theory to practice

I’m currently teaching a course on communication theory.  It’s an undergraduate class, one of those that’s designed to recruit majors.  Recently, one of my students, Joel, raised his hand in class.  You know the type:  he’s talkative, friendly and bright, a bit overbearing, and trying to figure out ‘what does it all mean’.  And that is precisely what he asked in the middle of a lecture/discussion on the importance of communication theory:  “But Miriam, what’s the point?  How does this stuff work in the real world?  Why should I care?”

It’s an age-old question, and one that students and teachers alike often struggle with, particularly in the social sciences and the humanities:  what is the connection between abstract, above-the-clouds theory and the pragmatic, day-to-day life we lead in the world?  But the question is, really, neither mundane nor naïve.  Indeed, I would argue that, in intercultural communication, this question is particularly important and yet woefully under-addressed.  We come up with all of these amazing theories to describe alienation, assimilation, identity processes, cultural difference—but we publish them in reputable journals and exorbitantly-priced textbooks and provide ‘in real life’ examples primarily at the undergraduate level.  Meanwhile, interculturalists who work in the world (outside of academic research), in such areas as refugee counseling, immigration, study abroad, international business, etc., are often working with little-to-no theoretical training, or with outdated approaches to difference such as the U-Curve or Iceberg models.

Where is the dialogue between theorists and practitioners?  What’s the point of doing such great and important work, on theories such as cosmopolitanism, hybridity, critical race theory, and others, if they are only accessible to other academics?  Those of us who identify as critical intercultural scholars are constantly talking about teaching others that difference should be embraced rather than feared, and yet here we are, talking in a language that is only accessible (literally, in terms of access to academic articles; and figuratively, in terms of being able to translate the academese we learn in graduate school) to a small portion of the population: those most like us.

In a discussion of intercultural dialogue, we would do well to listen to questions like Joel’s—the “how does this work” and “why should I care” questions.  If we are the idealists that the field really demands, then shouldn’t we be taking our work outside of the academy and applying it to those who need it, such as those who work with migrant populations, underserved urban youth, patients without health insurance, and on and on?  How can we build bridges between the important work that is done by university researchers and the communities we intend to serve?

I don’t propose that we stop building intercultural theory.  I think the work we do in intercultural research, particularly with today’s critical and postcolonial turns, is imperative to thriving in a world in which difference is coming closer to our doors rather than farther away.  However, with this divide between town and gown, between theory and practice, particularly in intercultural communication research, too much is lost in the translation.  I’d like to call for creative ways of applying academic theory to real world contexts, in ways that get our students jazzed about life beyond college, to see futures for their intercultural understandings of the world they learn in the classroom.  Programs such as Dr. Amy Stornaiuolo’s work with adolescent literacy, called Space2cre8, are heeding such calls, but there is room for so much more.  Students like Joel, those who understand that there could be more to theory than just memorization and regurgitation on an exam, can start to build these bridges, but only once we realize that our work needs to go further.  Let’s get this conversation moving outward, starting by answering Joel’s question:  “You should care because this work is essential to living in a multicultural world.”  This is the opening of our dialogue.

Miriam S. Sobre-Denton
Assistant Professor | Intercultural Communication
Southern Illinois University Carbondale


Miriam Sobré Profile


Miriam Sobré is Assistant Professor of Instruction at University of Texas, San Antonio, TX.

Miriam Sobre-Denton


Her research focuses on critical cosmopolitanism for intercultural communication, education for global competency in underserved communities, white privilege and Latina/o identities, postcolonialism and identity hybridity. Miriam received her Ph.D. from  Arizona State University in 2009; her dissertation was a 2 ½ year ethnography of a cosmopolitan social group. Miriam is also a Faculty Reader for the Master of Arts in Intercultural Research at the Intercultural Communication Institute.  She received her MA from the University of Texas at Austin and her BA from the University of Puget Sound.

Her publications include the following:

Sobré, M.S. (2017). Multicultural third culture building: A case-study of a multicultural social support group. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 45, 1.

Sobré, M.S. (2017). Developing the intercultural class-space: Theoretical implications and pragmatic applications of critical intercultural communication pedagogy. Intercultural Education, 28(1), 39-59.

Sobré-Denton, M.S. (2017). Cosmopolitanism—a critical, postcolonial perspective. In Y. Y. Kim & K.L. McKay-Semmler (Eds.), International encyclopedia of intercultural communication. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sobré-Denton, M.S. (2015). Virtual intercultural bridgework: Social media, virtual cosmopolitanism, and activist community-building. New Media and Society, 18(8), 1715-1731. DOI: 1461444814567988

Sobré-Denton, M.S. (2015). Cosmopolitanism. In J.M. Bennett (Ed.), Sage encyclopedia of intercultural competence (pp. 126-128). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sobré-Denton, M.S. (2015). Virtual cosmopolitanism in a networked society. In B. McEwan (Ed.), Navigating new media networks: Understanding and managing communication challenges in a networked society (pp. 127-138). Lexington Books.

Bardhan, N., & Sobré-Denton, M.S. (2015). Interculturality, cosmopolitanism and the role of the imagination: A perspective for communicating as global citizens. In M. Rozbichi (Ed.), Perspectives on interculturality (pp. 131-160). New York: Palgrave-MacMillan.

Work for CID:
Miriam Sobré wrote KC2: Cosmopolitanism.

Questioning geocultural boundaries


Communication Theory special issue on “Questioning geocultural boundaries of communication theories: De-Westernization, cosmopolitalism and globalization”

Guest editors: Silvio Waisbord and Claudia Mellado
Submission deadline: April 1, 2013

Although Western perspectives have been dominant in the study of communication, scholars have called for the emancipation of non-Western theories and new conceptual and theoretical perspectives. Researchers have shown the importance and vitality of communication theories grounded in various philosophical conceptions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This call should not be understood as an effort to “de-Westernize” communication studies. On the contrary, the task is to explore whether non-Western perspectives expand the analysis and challenge central assumptions and arguments.

Communication Theory therefore invites authors to submit papers for a future special issue on “Questioning geocultural boundaries of communication theories: De-Westernization, cosmopolitalism and globalization.” Contributions could analyze current theoretical developments in communication studies across the world, revisit epistemological and historical foundations, examine the integration of Western and non-Western perspectives in communication studies, the uses of theories of global comparative research, discuss the relevance of non-Western theories and models, and successful and failed efforts at theoretical cross-pollination. Submissions may address but should not be limited to the following

– Amidst the globalization, indigenization, and hybridization of communication and cultures, what do we mean by non-Western and Western theories?
– What are non-Western communication theories? Are they primarily based on non-individualistic, communitarian notions of self and universalistic premises?
– What are the commonalities and differences among non-Western theories? What contributions and differences do they offer?
– How do non-Western theories reframe questions and arguments grounded in Western theories?
– Is it valid to denominate theories on the basis of geo-cultural origin? How are essentialist positions reaffirmed? How and by whom or what are they challenged?

Manuscripts must be submitted by April 1, 2013, through the online submission system of Communication Theory. Authors should indicate that they wish to have their manuscript considered for the special issue. Inquiries can be sent to Silvio Waisbord (waisbord AT and Claudia Mellado (claudia.mellado AT

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