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Article

Kuaer Theory  

Ryan M. Lescure

Although queer theory was profoundly influenced by the womanist feminism of the 1980s and its emphasis on the ways in which intersectionality affects lived experience, popular queer theorizing generally lost this as it became more popular in academic contexts during the 1990s. Generally, the popular queer scholarship that was being published in the 1990s did not pay much attention to the diversity of queer experiences and subjectivities. Because many popular queer theorists at the time were White, affluent, cisgender, and based in the United States, their scholarship, while anti-heteronormative, tended to reflect their privileged racial, socioeconomic, gendered, national, and cultural standpoints. Subsequently, this scholarship tended to construct a singular, definitive, and universal queer subject position as White, affluent, cisgender, and based in the United States. Wenshu Lee’s kuaer theory is an example of one of the first significant theoretical challenges to queer theory’s problematic universalizing tendencies. Initially advanced in 2003, kuaer theory is influenced by postcolonialism, womanism, and E. Patrick Johnson’s quare studies, which Lee characterizes as having advanced queer theory in a similar way that womanism did for feminism. Finding inspiration in the writing of Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, and Gloria Anzaldúa, kuaer theory applies womanist concepts to expand on the foundation built by Johnson’s quare studies, which calls for queer theorists to focus on the particularity and diversity of sexualities as well as the ways in which sexualities relate to and are shaped by race, gender, socioeconomic class, and culture. Kuaer theory agrees with and advocates for all of these things, but it notably adds a transnational perspective and emphasizes that queer theorists must also highlight the relationships between sexualities and nation, nationality, power, and culture at the local, national, and transnational levels. Kuaer theory notes that queerness, queer activism, and queer knowledges are not exclusive to the United States or to the Western world. Because of this, kuaer theory encourages queer theorists to emphasize the local and intersectional particularities of people’s sexual experiences and subjectivities while simultaneously being critical of the ways in which queer theory itself often reproduces imperialism and cultural hierarchies at the global level. Kuaer theory continues to be influential among queer theorists, especially for its critique of queer theory’s often implicit reproduction of hierarchies. Like quare studies, kuaer theory is often cited by queer theorists who challenge queer theory’s continued general inattention to intersectionality and to the multiplicity of queer subjectivities. Finally, kuaer theory’s emphasis on transnational and transcultural perspectives as well as its criticism of queer theory’s imperialistic consequences has proven to be a substantial influence on critical intercultural communication and the emerging field of queer intercultural communication.

Article

Globalizing and Changing Culture  

Hans J. Ladegaard

Although there is no exact definition of globalization, and relatively little empirical evidence on how it affects people’s lives, most scholars argue that it reflects an increasingly mobile and interconnected world. People travel for pleasure or work, or they migrate to other parts of the world. They also communicate with linguistic and cultural others, either face-to-face or via modern communication technologies, which requires them to use a global lingua franca (English). This leads to greater interdependence and a sense of sharedness, but also to more intergroup conflicts. Thus, the world has become more interconnected, but also more fragmented, and social and economic inequality both within and across nation-states has become more visible. The importance of culture as an analytical concept in (intercultural) communication research is another pertinent topic in the literature. Some scholars have argued that culture has lost its potency as a meaningful analytical concept and therefore should no longer take center stage in communication research. Others claim that culture will always be salient and influence behavior. How and to what extent globalization changes culture has also been discussed extensively in recent years. Some scholars argue that globalization leads to sameness and uniformity, and ultimately to the end of the nation-state. Others disagree and posit that globalization leads to a strengthening of the nation-state and of the cultural values we associate with it. A meaningful way to test theoretical assumptions about globalization and culture is to analyze communication and work practices in global organizations. Research from these contexts suggests that globalization has not led to cultural assimilation and uniformity. Employees in the global workplace and student sojourners use national stereotypes as a frame of reference when they communicate with cultural others, and they demonstrate high awareness of cultural differences and how they impact their communication, study, and work practices. Recent research on cultural change and globalization has included a critical dimension that questions a world order where the increase in power and cultural and economic wealth in developed countries happens at the expense of poor people with no voice and little visibility living in developing countries. Critical (intercultural) communication research considers these imbalances and also provides a critique of Anglocentric research paradigms, which do not include the cultural and linguistic experiences of non-Western cultural others.

Article

Methods for Intercultural Communication Research  

John Oetzel, Saumya Pant, and Nagesh Rao

Research on intercultural communication is conducted using primarily three different methodological approaches: social scientific, interpretive, and critical. Each of these approaches reflects different philosophical assumptions about the world and how we come to know it. Social scientific methods often involve quantitative data collection and research approaches such as surveys and experiments. From this perspective, intercultural communication is seen as patterns of interaction, and we seek to explain and understand these patterns through clear measurement and identification of key independent variables. Interpretive methods often involve qualitative data collection and research approaches such as interviews and ethnographic observation. From this perspective, intercultural communication and meaning is created through interaction, and we seek to understand these meanings by exploring the perspectives of people who participate as members of cultural communities. Critical methods often involve qualitative data collection and research approaches such as interviews and textual critique. From this perspective, intercultural communication involves inequalities that can be attributed to power and distortions created from (mis)use of this power. Critical scholars seek to unmask domination and inequality. Most scholars utilize one of these primary approaches given the consistency with their world views, theories, and research training. However, there are creative possibilities for combining these approaches that have potential for fuller understanding of intercultural communication.

Article

Néstor García Canclini and Communication Studies  

Toby Miller

Néstor García Canclini is an anthropologist and philosopher of culture whose work in Latin America has pioneered ideas of interculturalism, hybridity, consumption, and citizenship, both regionally and globally. His collaborative and individual research has provided extensive empirical and theoretical insights into the daily lives of ordinary people, as well as the significance of indigenous and avant-garde art and the role of the popular in building nations and sustaining them under circumstances of globalization.

Article

Rhetorical Approaches to Communication and Culture  

Soumia Bardhan

The convergence of rhetoric, culture, and communication has led to the development of two predominant areas of study within the field of communication: intercultural rhetoric and comparative rhetoric. Intercultural rhetoric illustrates how culture-based arguments are constructed by advocates during intercultural interactions and how the arguments make sense within a particular cultural frame or worldview. These studies attempt to represent the cultural sensibility and rhetorical traditions invoked by a particular intercultural interaction. Rhetorical practices are seen as emerging from the beliefs and values of distinctive cultural communities, and the convergence of intercultural communication and rhetoric becomes evident when people act rhetorically and their diverse cultural assumptions gradually or suddenly become apparent during intercultural interactions. Comparative rhetoric focuses on the cross-cultural study of rhetorical traditions, past or present, in societies around the world. Comparison of (rather than interaction between) the rhetorical practices of two or more cultures is often the focus of comparative rhetoric studies. Comparison helps in the identification of rhetorical features in one culture that might not be evident otherwise, to unearth what is universal and what distinctive in any rhetorical tradition, including that of the West. Intercultural rhetoric and comparative rhetoric share some conceptual and methodological features; both fields are characterized by similar beginnings and some shared debates. However, they also have distinct characteristics, challenges, and historiographies. For intercultural rhetoric, approaching intercultural contexts and situations utilizing theories and concepts from rhetorical studies affirms non-Western modes of reasoning and advocacy. Recent methodological developments have allowed critics to more comprehensively represent rhetorical traditions and to discover novel ways to understand intercultural conflicts and mediate cultural differences. Conceptualizing rhetorical situations as intercultural dialogues suggests the ways in which intercultural rhetorical theorists need to be mindful of the multivocal quality of social discourses. Rhetorical interpretation of texts benefits from a comparative approach that allows for speculation with respect for and grounding in another culture’s history, as well as reflection on the cultural outsider’s motive and assumptions. It is useful for the quest of meaning not to be limited to the standpoints within each disparate culture; pragmatically, they must have a dialogue since comparative rhetoric allows the analysis of different discourses, the discovery of common grounds of engagement, and the revelation of cultural assumptions.

Article

Cross-Cultural Adaptation  

Young Yun Kim

Countless immigrants, refugees, and temporary sojourners, as well as domestic migrants, leave the familiar surroundings of their home culture and resettle in a new cultural environment for varying lengths of time. Although unique in individual circumstances, all new arrivals find themselves in need of establishing and maintaining a relatively stable working relationship with the host environment. The process of adapting to an unfamiliar culture unfolds through the stress-adaptation-growth dynamic, a process that is deeply rooted in the natural human tendency to achieve an internal equilibrium in the face of adversarial environmental conditions. The adaptation process typically begins with the psychological and physiological experiences of dislocation and duress commonly known as symptoms of culture shock. Over time, through continuous activities of new cultural learning, most people are able to attain increasing levels of functional and psychological efficacy vis-a-vis the host environment. Underpinning the cross-cultural adaptation process are the two interrelated experiences of deculturation of some of the original cultural habits, on the one hand, and acculturation of new ones, on the other. The cumulative outcome of the acculturation and deculturation experiences is an internal transformation in the direction of assimilation into the mainstream culture. Long-term residents and immigrants are also likely to undergo an identity transformation, a subtle and largely unconscious shift from a largely monocultural to an increasingly intercultural self-other orientation, in which conventional, ascription-based cultural categories diminish in relevance while individuality and common humanity play an increasingly significant role in one’s daily existence. Central to this adaptation process are one’s ability to communicate in accordance to the norms and practices of the host culture and continuous and active engagement in the interpersonal and mass communication activities of the host society.

Article

Media Literacy Education for Diverse Societies  

Annamária Neag, Çiğdem Bozdağ, and Koen Leurs

Since the 1980s, media literacy has been a central topic in the field of communication, media, and education studies as a result of a parallel growth of polarization between societal groups and use of digital technologies for self-representation. In this article, we present a brief overview of the evolvement of media literacy and other competing terms and discuss emerging approaches that incorporate issues related to the politics of difference, representations and voice of marginalised groups. Although existing concepts and projects focus on singular aspects such as representation and media production by minorities, they do not commonly integrate concerns of diversity and media literacy education from a critical and holistic perspective. Building on critical pedagogy, feminist and decolonial theory, there is a need for a more inclusive and intersectional approach to media literacy education. Such an approach should focus not only on marginalized groups but also on society as a whole, it should advocate a critical understanding of the mediated construction of reality and offer grounds to successfully challenge dominant representations, and it should equip people with the skills not only to participate and raise their own voices but also to pay more attention to practices of listening to work toward a level playing field between mainstream and marginalized groups.