Papers accepted for 2nd BIBAC conference

Abstracts recently accepted for the 2nd BIBAC (Building Interdisciplinary Bridges Across Cultures) International Conference (hosted by Cambridge University, UK, 31st July-01st August, 2016):

  • Al-Masri, N., Frimberger, K. and Attia, M. (2016). ‘Hope is our bread and butter’: towards a human ecological language pedagogy in the context of siege.
  • Fay, R., Hawley, R. and Sherwood, E. (2016, July). ‘Klezmer returns to college’ – intercultural experience and social engagement through musical performance.
  • Huang, Z. (2016, July). An interdisciplinary exploration of ‘who I am’: using visual-creative-arts to understand intercultural personhood.


  • Mariam Attia

    Abstract for ‘Hope is our bread and butter’:

    This presentation is a reflection on the process of developing a situated language teacher education programme in Teaching Arabic to speakers of Other Languages (TASOL) informed by a human ecological approach (Phipps & Levine 2012). In a human ecological view on language learning, the speaker’s ability or inability to communicate, learn or ‘flourish’ in an educational environment is considered a ‘spatial’ phenomenon, dependent on the communicative conditions and educational requirements produced by the environment. ‘Competence’ is thus not simply read as open-ended potentiality dependent on the individual’s efforts alone, but seen as embedded within wider societal structures which can enable and nurture, or equally, disable the individual’s disposition to become ‘competent’ in the first place.

    The programme is designed for teachers in the context of siege in Gaza, Palestine. It constitutes of 60 hours of online teaching with the purpose of supporting prospective teachers of Arabic in developing their own online teaching material. Our aim is hereby not to impose a ‘best practice’ framework but to work towards a relational, human ecological model of teacher training, in which ‘appropriate methodology’ and practices are shared and developed collaboratively and in a context-specific way. Grounded in such relational model, the programme is based on five pillars:

    CONTEXT – This includes consideration of various contextual factors and the complex manifestations of resilience, determination, beauty, healing, oppression, suffering and trauma, which mark life in the Gaza strip. As this is an international course, co-created by professionals from diverse cultural, linguistic and disciplinary backgrounds, the ‘intercultural’ is thus deeply embedded in the course design, rather than added-on as an abstracted teaching dimension (e.g. in the form of an intercultural competence model). Given learners’ and teachers’ different identity positionings, the course foregrounds the importance of online learning spaces, in which active stances of critical inquiry (e.g. Guilherme 2006) and ‘critical’ community building (e.g. Ahmed 2000) can be enabled for the purpose of self- and mutual development.

    CREATIVE ARTS – Creative arts pedagogies are central to the programme because of our relational outlook on teacher education. We conceptualise creative arts pedagogies as critical intercultural, and define them as the collaborative production of artefacts in a shared learning space (e.g. drawings, pieces of music or drama) as well as collaborative reflections on artworks which are part of artistic traditions (e.g. Darwish’s poetry) or have previously emerged as practices of resistance and hope (e.g. street art/Graffiti art or Al-Ali’s cartoons). We hereby do not make a distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art but simply explore the artwork’s emergence contextually and for its critical, pedagogical function. Considering arts practice as critical intercultural pedagogy allows us to teach and learn from within the contested contexts that Palestinian teachers find themselves in, and to build on the ‘artful’ resistance practices and practices of hope that are already present in the Gaza context. Another example for such recent ‘artful’ practice of resistance and hope are a series of paintings created by the Islamic University’s deaf student population. The paintings emerged out of the context of war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, and were part of an on-campus exhibition entitled ‘Educational and Psychological Consequences of the war Against Gaza’ (May, 2015). The students’ artworks can now also be found online (

    The students’ paintings do not only communicate their memories of violence but also resonate their hopes for a future ‘good’ life (post-war) which, through its striking visual imagery, communicates across cultures and languages around the world. By putting critical creative practices at the centre of our course pedagogy, we wish to enable meaningful learning spaces guided by an ethical, situated praxis. A focus on ethical praxis (MacDonald & O’Regan 2012; Phipps 2014) enables (us) educators to reflect on our role and responsibility in developing ‘just’ educational practices (Todd 2007), as opposed to ‘best’ practices, which “address the relationship between politics and agency, knowledge and power, subject positions and values and learning and social change” […] (Giroux & Searls-Giroux 2004, p.111).

    TECHNOLOGY & CRITICAL PEDAGOGY – Considering the context of siege, we are aware of our reliance on online platforms to facilitate our educational encounters. We wish however to NOT construct this fact as a deficit which might hinder pedagogically meaningful encounters. Instead, we regard technology, much like the creative arts pedagogies mentioned above, as a central critical intercultural pedagogy at the heart of our programme. Learning from Palestinian teachers who conceptualise the online encounter and digital pedagogies as part of their practices of resistance and hope, we equally embrace and celebrate the potential of digital platforms to facilitate human connection and engagement in shared, meaningful learning spaces. Given the teachers’ practical, technological expertise, our programme will draw on their advice and feedback on ‘what works best’ in the Gazan context, and assist them in theorising their practice.

    LANGUAGE – The course will be delivered bilingually in Arabic and English. Our target audience is a mixed grouped of trained language teachers. Given our relational approach to teacher education, we do not wish to simply replicate a (UK/Europe-based) ‘best practice’ framework that is separate from the teachers’ actual life contexts in Gaza. Instead, we will co-develop models in accordance with a human ecological approach. In practice, this means sharing the language we use to describe our educational efforts, e.g. individual teaching experiences, pedagogical principles and ‘visions’ for education. These will be brought in conversation with existing philosophical perspectives; ones which emerged out of the Palestinian context (e.g. Said 1979, Abu-Lughod 2002) as well as from other, world-wide contexts in which education acted as a resistance practice/practice of freedom (e.g. Freire 1973/1995, hooks 1994). Our aim is hereby to arrive at a praxis-based development of context-specific ‘best’ teaching practices, informed by our hands-on and situated learning and teaching experiences, as well as our shared reflections on philosophical perspectives, regarding the role that education plays or should play as part of a ‘humanity-facing’ education (e.g. Todd 2008).


    Abu-Lughod, L. (2002) Do Muslim Women really need saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others, American Anthropologist, Vol. 104, No. 3 (Sep.), pp. 783-790. Retrieved from:

    Freire, P. (1973): Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Seabury

    Freire, P. (1995): Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. Robert R. Barr. New York: Continuum.
    Giroux, H. & Searls-Giroux, S. (2004). Take back higher education: Race, youth and the crisis of democracy in the post-civil rights era. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Guilherme, M. (2006): Is there a role for critical pedagogy in Language/ Culture Studies. An interview with Henry Giroux. Language and Intercultural Communication, 6 (2), 163-175, DOI:10.2167/laic235.0.

    hooks, b. (1994): Teaching to Transgress – Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York, London: Routledge.

    Levine, G. S. & Phipps, A. (2012): Critical and Intercultural Theory and Language Pedagogy. Boston: Heinle.

    Mac Donald, M.N, O’Regan, J.P. (2012): The Ethics of Intercultural Communication., Education Philosophy and Theory, doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2011.00833.x.

    Phipps, A. (2014): They are bombing now: Intercultural Dialogue in Times of conflict. Language and Intercultural Communication, 14 (1), 108-124.
    Said, E. (1979): Orientalism. New York, Toronto: Random House.
    Todd, S. (2007): Promoting a Just Education: Dilemmas of rights,freedom and justice, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 39:6, 592-603, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2007.00310.x
    Todd, S. (2008): Facing humanity: The difficult task of cosmopolitan education. Todd, Paper at the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain/ Annual Conference.

  • Zhuomin Huang

    An interdisciplinary exploration of ‘who I am’: using visual-creative-arts to understand intercultural personhood

    Zhuomin Huang
    The University of Manchester


    Students at The University of Manchester (hereafter, UoM) are participants in an increasingly internationalised Higher Education campus which is embedded in a multicultural urban setting. Both the internationalised and multicultural character of this context provides students with opportunities, which they may or may not embrace, to live and study interculturally (or at least have some intercultural experiences). Given these opportunities, and the experiences they encourage, in this paper, I discuss what living in such an interculturally-rich context might mean for the personhood of the individuals concerned, and how visual-creative-arts (VCAs) can be used to explore this question.

    By ‘intercultural personhood’, following Kim (2008, 2015), I mean an individual’s perspective on how they see themselves in this interculturally-rich context. My use of this term intentionally distinguishes my focus from research into ‘(cultural) identity’ in two ways. First, ‘personhood’ emphasises first-person meaning-making regarding the developing sense that a person has about ‘who I am’ (Glas, 2006; Splitter, 2015), whereas ‘identity’ more usually emphasises the qualities that a person shares with a group of other people thereby distinguishing them from others (Hall & Du Gay, 1996; Glas, 2006). In other words, ‘personhood’ offers a developmental perspective regarding how individuals see themselves, while ‘identity’ describes them in relation to group characteristics. Second, my focus is on the ‘intercultural’ rather than the ‘cultural’ aspect of personhood because I see each person as a culturally-complex and culturally-unique individual (Singer, 1988) interacting with other such individuals, and, for the purposes of the study on which this paper draws, doing so in an interculturally-rich context. In this way, I want to develop my understanding of students’ intercultural personhood by looking into their instrumental (Glas, 2008) and constructive (Kim, 2015) views about their intercultural experiences. In other words, I hope to learn from students’ reflective and reflexive accounts (i.e. an instrumental view) of their intercultural experiences, and what meanings they develop (about and from these experiences) as relevant for their sense of ‘self’ (i.e. a constructive view).

    The study in question is my on-going doctoral research which, through the lens of mindfulness (Ting-Toomey & Kurogi, 1998), attends to insights from mature students about their intercultural experiences at UoM and in Manchester. The students in question are not drawn from any particular group(s) or nationality/ies (e.g. international or domestic students, Chinese, or Japanese) as has been the case in many previous studies of internationalised university-life (e.g. Holmes, 2004; Schweisfurth & Gu, 2009; Grayson, 2008). Given my aforementioned understanding of the culturally-complex and culturally-unique individual (Singer, 1998), and my characterisation of UoM (i.e. increasingly internationalised) and Manchester (i.e. significantly multicultural), I could have included each and every UoM student. In addition, I do not seek to identify problems, challenges and/or critical incidents in students’ intercultural experiences, nor to promote strategies for (re)solving such problems or improving their intercultural practices (as has been focused on in many existing studies) (e.g. Bamford, 2008; Leask, 2009). Instead, I view the students as active thinking-agents who can, to a great extent, autonomously make sense of their intercultural experiences, and from whom I can learn about their individual understandings regarding who they are as they live and study in this interculturally-rich context.

    However, the primary focus of this paper is methodological – in it, I outline the eight VCAs-based methods (such as ‘Blind-portrait’, ‘Digital-edited Photography’, and ‘Free-style Painting’) I am using to explore intercultural personhood. By ‘visual-creative-arts’, I mean the visible media, created or found by students (Riessman, 2008), which provide a means for students to make sense of their experiences in this university-and-city context, and to share these understandings with me. The visualised nature of these understandings enables me to look into students’ invisible and fluid mind-worlds (Hâkansson et al., 2003; Reissman, 2008). In this paper, I give examples of my use of VCAs-based methods and the kind of insights arising from their use. I discuss how such methods can provide an open and creative space (Sullivan, 2008) for students to think, and to make meanings of their intercultural experiences (Pink, 2001). I also illustrate how they serve to be powerful tools for supporting students’ reflective processes (Lemon, 2006), and for presenting their communicative products (Tversky, 2011) of meaning-making. By using VCAs to explore how students take meaningful ownership of their intercultural experiences through VCAs, I offer a methodological contribution regarding the use of VCAs-based methods in, for, and as research.

    My discussion of using VCAs for understanding mature students’ intercultural personhood bridges the arts, intercultural communication and psychology. I explore interdisciplinary questions such as: ‘What are the cognitive, psychological and communicative powers of the arts in understanding one’s ‘self’ and the meanings of one’s experiences?’; ‘What do intercultural experiences mean to the ‘self’?’ and ‘How can the arts be used to illuminate one’s understandings about being intercultural?’ By considering such questions in the paper, I begin to map out a new territory – that of understanding the meaning of being intercultural (i.e. intercultural personhood) through the use of visual-creative-arts (VCAs).

  • Richard Fay

    Abstract for the klezmer paper:
    In this paper, having introduced the music-culture known as klezmer (a word combining the Hebrew words klei and zemer and translatable as ‘vessel of sound’), we outline our approach to teaching it in recent years in a UK conservatory-type context in which Western Classical music is prioritised, and then reflect on the broadening of our students’ musical, cultural, and contextual horizons through engagement with, and performance of, klezmer.

    As widely discussed (e.g. Rogovoy, 2000; Sapoznik, 1981, 1999/2001; Slobín, 2000, 2002; Strom, 2002), the genre of music now known as ‘Klezmer’ has roots dating back to the Middle Ages and was originally an integral part of the wedding (and other) celebrations of the often Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish communities in central and eastern European. Those communities experienced great oppression throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and were very largely destroyed during the Holocaust. However, this music-culture survived as a result of emigration and the resulting establishment of diaspora communities especially in the USA. Recordings made in the early part of the 20th century in this New World context (and, as recently discovered in the EMI archives, also in Europe) captured some of the Old World sound and provide invaluable access to an otherwise lost sonic and cultural world. As the century progressed, these recordings also evidenced the desire, to quote a local radio jingle of the time, for ‘Jewish melodies in swing’, i.e. for a mixing of Old and New World musical sensibilities. Then, as the emigrants settled, and their children and grandchildren became a part of the American melting pot, klezmer almost disappeared completely. It seemed that this shtetl-music had limited relevance and resonance in the new cultural setting where few wanted to remember the Old World experience of being Jewish. However, for the revivalists of the 1970s and 1980s, sufficient recordings had been archived and enough older klezmorim (i.e. klezmer musicians) remained to ensure that American klezmer could be rekindled and reframed as part of the contemporary music-scape. Since then, and not without controversy, klezmer has mushroomed into a transglobal world music genre with a widely distributed pool of players and aficionados. But what this might mean varies from context to context. For example, the reappearance of klezmer in countries such as Germany and Poland (from which the Jewish presence had all but been eradicated) has led to some commentators to speak of cultural appropriation whereas others view the revived forms in terms of cultural translation (Waligorska, 2013).

    A starting point for our teaching of klezmer lies with the teaching in the 1970s/80s in the USA by the revivalists, an approach described, for example, in Netsky’s seminal chapter, “Klez goes to college” (2004). However, our context is substantially different. We have been teaching klezmer in a UK university department for the last five years only – an initiative which, echoing Netsky’s work, we describe as ‘klezmer returns to college’. Given that the available klezmer pedagogy relates to an earlier era and to a particular musical, cultural, and educational context, we needed to develop an approach, shaped by the pioneering work of others, but nonetheless reframed to be appropriate for our time and context. A further source of pedagogical inspiration lay with the traditions of Performing Ethnomusicology (e.g. Krüger, 2009; Schippers, 2010; Solis, 2004) and with World Music Education (e.g. Campbell, 1996; Campbell et al, 2005). Additionally, we brought an intercultural purposefulness (e.g. Field, 2010) to our thinking, and we sought to challenge the givens of our field, to be socially transformative (re our students’ engagement with local audiences, Jewish and non-Jewish), and to enact in some ways the developing traditions of Applied Ethnomusicology (e.g. Harrison, Mackinlay & Pettan, 2010). In the paper, we outline the main characteristics of the approach we have developed as shaped by these diverse possibilities.

    Each year, a group of between 8-15 students learn to play klezmer, a genre which for them is typically an unfamiliar musical idiom flowing from unfamiliar cultural roots. By the end of their taught time with us they must be able to perform klezmer, a musical ‘Other’ for them, to audiences significantly Jewish in make-up (another cultural ‘Other’ for our students). This world music (klezmer) education process generates not only a dialogue between differing music-cultures (and their associated forms, and learning and performance styles, of which we will say more in the paper), but also a dialogue between the disciplines of Ethnomusicology and Intercultural Communication (especially concerning the criticality with which ‘culture’ is used). Further, most of those teaching and learning klezmer in this 21st century Mancunian (UK) context are not from a Jewish background and, whilst for some this might be seen as part of the aforementioned cultural appropriation, we believe that it has enabled purposeful intercultural dialogue through music. It also represents a process of social engagement which is playing an important role in the developing cultural weave of our city, as well as helping to shape our students’ musically-framed understandings of the cultural and intercultural. (862 words)

    Campbell, P.S. (1996). Music in cultural context: eight views on World Music Education. Reston, VA.:
    Music Educators National Conference (MENC).

    Campbell, P.S., Drummond, J., Dunbar-Hall, P., Howard, K., Schippers, H. and Wiggins, T. (eds.) (2005). Cultural diversity in music education: directions and challenges for the 21st century. Queensland: Australian Academic Press.

    Field, J. (2010). Middle school music curricula and the fostering of intercultural awareness. Journal of Research in International Education, 9(1): 5-23.

    Harrison, K., Mackinlay, E. and Pettan, S. (eds.) (2010). Applied ethnomusicology: historical and contemporary approaches. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Krüger, S. (2009). Experiencing ethnomusicology: teaching and learning in European universities. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.

    Netsky, H. (2004). “Klez goes to college”. In T. Solis (ed.), Performing ethnomusicology: teaching and representation in the world music ensembles (pp.189-201). Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Rogovoy, S. (2000) The essential Klezmer: A music lover’s guide to Jewish roots and soul music, from the Old World to the Jazz Age to the Downtown Avant-Garde. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.

    Sapoznik, H. (1981). Liner notes for Klezmer Music 1910-1942 – available from: (last accessed 30th December, 2015).

    Sapoznik, Henry. (1999/2006). Klezmer! Jewish music from Old World to our world. New York: Schirmer trade Books.

    Schippers, H. (2010). Facing the music: shaping music education from a global perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press

    Slobín, M. (ed.) (2000). Fiddler on the move: exploring the klezmer world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Slobín, M. (ed.) (2002). American klezmer: its roots and offshoots. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press.

    Solis, T. (ed.) (2004). Performing ethnomusicology: teaching and representation in the world music ensembles. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Strom, Y. (2002). The book of klezmer – the history, the music, the folklore from the 14th century to the 21st. Chicago, ILL.: Cappella Books.

    Waligorska, M. (2013). Klezmer’s afterlife: an ethnography of the Jewish music revival in Poland and Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Keywords: ethnomusicology; ‘culture’; dialogue; interdisciplinary; social engagement