New publication: Mindfulness and the ethics of intercultural knowledge-work

Mindfulness and the ethics of intercultural knowledge-work

Zhuo Min Huang, Richard Fay & Ross White

Journal of Language and Intercultural Communication
Volume 17, 2017 – Issue 1: Dialogical Perspectives on Intercultural Communication as Social Practice


Mindfulness, or 念 (niàn) in Chinese, is a concept and set of related practices which have both ancient Eastern roots and current popularity (especially in the West). It provides a fascinating example of intercultural knowledge-work involving a complex set of conceptual migrations through time and space, across languages and cultures, and within domains and disciplines. We first review the vitality of the concept as used in Western disciplines (chiefly intercultural communication and psychotherapy), noting how the Eastern origins are mentioned but not fully discussed. We then review the ancient origins in Eastern religious and philosophical thinking concluding with an account of the development of the term in the East until recent times. As we discuss next, when these differing arenas of use and development interact, understandings become contested and issues of privilege vis-á-vis knowledge sources can be seen. These complexities raise questions about authenticity versus translation with regard to the differing uses made of the concept in the different arenas. Learning from the reviews of the differing understandings of this concept and the sometimes fraught interactions between them, we propose that scholars and practitioners working in our highly interconnected era, adopt an intercultural ethic to regulate and guide such knowledge-work.

念 (mindfulness)源于古老东方,在当前西方也颇受欢迎。这个概念及其相关实践提供了一个引人深思的文化间知识工作的案例。该案例包含了一系列极其复杂,穿越时间和空间,跨越不同语言、文化、领域和学科的概念迁移。本文里,我们首先解析‘念’在西方学科(特别是文化间交际学和心理治疗学)中的活跃动态,并指出其中对于‘念’的东方起源仅表面提及而未作深入阐述的现状。然后,我们回顾该概念在东方的宗教、哲学思想中的古老起源,以及在当代东方的知识发展。接下来,我们探讨这些不同‘舞台’间的互动对于‘念’的运用和发展所产生的理解和争议,以及其中关于知识来源之优势特权的相关问题。这些复杂性引起了我们关于概念在不同‘舞台’间、不同应用中,转译变幻所致的真实性的疑问,以及其中一些关于文化、领域间互动方式的担忧。因而,我们在此提出:在这个愈发息息相连的时代,所有致力于知识工作的学者和实践者都应采纳文化间交流的道德规范,以调控和指导极具复杂性的知识工作。

One comment

  • Susan Dawson

    Congratulations to all involved on a great article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am glad that your ideas are now out there in public.