IALIC 2015: “Intercultural Communication in Social Practice
Greetings from Edinburgh!
I reckon my name might sound unfamiliar to some of you, slightly because I completed my PhD at Manchester a few years ago, and largely because I have been quiet on this forum for a long time as I was drawn to the various adventures in the early stage of my academic career in a different institution.
Nevertheless, I’m never away from LANTERN, still participating in joint conference presentations and publications etc. when there is an opportunity. Here I’m posting an update about the most recent collaboration, an abstract (see below) that Richard and myself submitted to the 15th IALIC conference on “Intercultural Communication in Social Practice”, to be hosted by Peking University, China on Nov 27-29, 2015.
‘Home’, an overlooked space for intercultural competence development?
Xiaowei (Vivien) Zhou and Richard Fay
Research about intercultural competence development has been traditionally contextualised in the experiences of individuals who have the privilege to travel across cultural borders. This research is often underpinned by a belief that exposure to foreignness defined in national terms is a pre-requisite for the development of intercultural competence and such exposure tends to occur only when one makes a physical move away from one’s cultural home. However, we find that these beliefs are both insufficient and problematic to help us understand the complexities characterising the intercultural arena. The growing scholarly interest in a non-essentialist perspective on intercultural communication has inspired us to re-examine the space where cultural otherness becomes manifest, comfort zones are confronted and intercultural learning takes place.
In this presentation, we provide a few case studies from our diverse professional contexts as an attempt to illuminate what seems to be happening in an often overlooked space for intercultural competence development. We start with Vivien’s UK-based experience of teaching postgraduate students originally from the UK (typically labelled as “home” students) and Germany on an intercultural communication module. The latter comprise the majority of the student group enrolled in this module. A collective disappointment is often noted from these cultural travellers about studying in the vicinity of “home” rather than in a “truly international” environment. We then move onto Richard’s work, with Leah Davcheva, theorising intercultural competence from the narratively-voiced identity performances of Bulgaria’s small Sephardic Jewish community as understood through their linguistic resources, including the heritage language Ladino.
Through these examples, and our sharing of them with each other and with our audience, we seek to also foreground, extend, and conceptualise our dialogue about intercultural communication, a dialogue which is itself intercultural and merits problematising scrutiny as part of a critical orientation to intercultural thinking.
culture, intercultural communication, intercultural competence, non-essentialism, dialogue