Ruins by Steven Darian

Guest Posts

Ruins: A guest post by Steven Darian.

Darian writes: “If you really want to understand another culture, you must immerse yourself in it, especially if that other culture existed long long ago. You must feel yourself into the life, even if it is from a thousand years ago.

Here are a few places I’ve been to and have tried to feel my way into the soul of: the fabled city of Gaur, where the Ganges River joins the Brahmaputra, on its journey down to Calcutta, and the famous clay soldiers of Xi’an. I’ve called the piece RUINS.”

These pieces are from Darian’s forthcoming book The Wanderer: Travels & Adventures Beyond the Pale, appearing fall 2019 and published by Linus Learning.

Read the entire excerpt.

Lisa Childress: Increasing Faculty Engagement in ICC & Internationalization on Campus

Guest Posts

Increasing Faculty Engagement in Intercultural Communication and Internationalization on Campus by Lisa K. Childress.

How can faculty members promote intercultural dialogue on campus? That is what those of us who are advocates for intercultural communication (ICC) and internationalization seek to encourage on a daily basis. Many faculty members on campus may already see interdisciplinary dialogue as an avenue through which to gain a more holistic understanding of their subject matter. In other words, many of our colleagues already believe in the value of looking at research and teaching through more than one disciplinary lens as a way to provide a more complex, comprehensive point of view. The question thus becomes: How can we use the already held value of interdisciplinarity as a springboard to promote the value of ICC and internationalization?

Let’s look at this conundrum through a series of questions:

As faculty members, we seek to develop our students’ global competencies.

(1) What is the foundation for developing our students’ global competencies?
Answer: The internationalization of our curricula.

(2) What is at the heart of internationalizing our curricula?
Answer: Our faculty.

(3) With what do faculty primarily concern themselves?
Answer: Their department’s goals and values and their individual teaching and research agendas.

(4) How can we shift our university’s academic departments towards a more intercultural and international focus?
Answer: Customizing ICC and internationalization to unique disciplinary priorities.

So, how can we move the ball forward? Since faculty members live within their academic disciplines, that is where the conversations and the impetus for increasing faculty engagement in ICC and internationalization need to begin.

Read the full discussion in order to learn the next steps.

Johanna Maccioni: Overlanding from Brussels to Kuala Lumpur

Guest PostsOverlanding from Brussels to Kuala Lumpur: A few comments on interactions along the way, by Johanna Maccioni.

Johanna Maccioni and family

As a family with four children, we decided to travel for a year and a half from Brussels to Sydney with our own truck. Our first itinerary planned to cross Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, part of Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and finally Australia. However, we never managed to obtain Chinese visas, so we had to build a new itinerary. From Mongolia, we exited through Siberia again to reach Vladivostok where we took a ferry to South Korea and then to Japan. We then shipped our truck to Borneo planning to cross from Malaysia to Indonesia by land on that island, and then take ferries up to Dili in Timor for a last leg to Darwin. During the time our truck was being shipped from Japan to Borneo, we stopped in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. But plans changed again as we were running out of time and money. So, we finally decided to travel to peninsular Malaysia from Borneo, made a loop in Thailand and Laos and sent our truck back home from Kuala Lumpur to sell it. The trip continues for us as we have now settled for a projected two years in New Caledonia, a French island in the Pacific, giving us time to visit part of Oceania.

This road trip was a very exciting adventure and experience to learn from. While there are many possible subjects to describe, I would like to report here a few comments related to interactions during our trip, placing them into a personal perspective.

During this trip, there have been three main type of interactions with others: interactions with local inhabitants in each country, interactions with the expatriate community living abroad, and interactions with members of the overlanding community.

Read the full description to learn the details of these 3 types of interactions, and follow the family’s blog to learn more details of their experiences.

Sharing an Exotic Meal as ICD

Guest Posts

Sharing 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.

Read the entire essay.

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.

Example of dialogue among cultures

Guest PostsAn interesting example of dialogue among cultures by Maria Flora Mangano.

I have just taught a course in a rather unique context. The course was Communication of Scientific Research, offered to students (MSc and PhD) at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, located in Bari (in Southern Italy). The Institute is part of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, located in Paris.

This course was an extraordinary experience: five days, of 8 hours of lessons per day, supplemented by moments of dialogue during the meals and after dinner. All told, a very intense week, with more than 25 students from Masters and PhD courses in various agronomic disciplines. Among the group, only two were Italian, the other students coming from almost 15 countries in the Mediterranean area, from Kosovo to Morocco.

The course produced many challenges for me: first of all, the fear to propose content in a non-native language, especially topics related to dialogue as a space of relationship among, beyond and across our cultures and disciplines; then the proposal of building this space during all the week, in class and out, with students who came from countries where there are still conflicts.

We discussed in class the attack in Beirut last week, as one student had parents who lived in that zone; the same with the Egyptian students with whom we tried to talk about the 50 deaths in Cairo during the riots in the streets.

It was extremely intense to dialogue with students about the value of the other and otherness, starting from European philosophy, which risked appearing far from all their cultures. I tried to introduce the content starting from keywords, as I usually do in my teaching activities, also in Latin and ancient Greek languages, exploring the meaning of the various terms in all of their languages.

I proposed that every student introduce her or himself in 10 minutes by using whatever tools they wanted. We spent a lot of time in class analyzing their oral presentations, which were delivered by slide, oral speeches, or music (one student played some songs from his country with a guitar).

The issues around scientific research gave me the opportunity to introduce other topics related to the relationship with the other, which are different for every country. I also shared with them the notion of creating a “safe” space of dialogue.

One exercise used the short film, Twice upon a time (about bilingualism in Canada). The results were interesting: the students who came from countries close to the European tradition (if we can use this expression), like Turkey or the Balkans (in particular, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Bosnia), appreciated the movie and found it a fitting conclusion to the lesson. But the students from the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) and from the Middle East (Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon) did not enjoy it as much. In fact, they found it boring and a bit excessive, as they did not fully appreciate the issues depicted.

Ramadan started during the course, which provided another wonderful opportunity for sharing and dialogue. The majority of the students in this course were Muslim, but only about half were observant. Those who were needed to fast (not only avoiding food, but also even water), throughout the day, even though in Southern Italy the summer is hot. I proposed to the students that I would participate in their evening prayer, after dinner, for almost one hour, since it was the only one of the five times dedicated to daily prayer that we might share. They were very happy and surprised, as they told me that it was uncommon for a non-Muslim to join in prayer with them.

At the end of the sessions we had ice cream in the garden (the campus is really beautiful), after dinner and after prayer. It was another occasion for interaction among the group members, including some students who were not enrolled in this course.
Course CSR_MAI 2013-rev

I asked students to send me their feedback and so I have been receiving beautiful notes. I have the feeling that we shared something new, beyond only disciplinary content, as many of them have now told me.

Download the entire post as a PDF.