发布时间: 2010-12-27 浏览次数: 199

Conference Reviews

International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies: Culture, Communication and Adaptation in Global Context

LIU Cheng 

The 16th annual conference of International Association of Intercultural Studies (IAICS) was held at South China University of Technology (SCUT) in Guangzhou,China from June 18-20,2010.More than 320 participants from 28 countries and regions attended  the conference and presented their papers.This conference was hosted by IAICS and SCUT,and jointly organized by the Cross-Cultural Communication Research Center of SCUT,the China Association for Intercultural Communication (CAFIC) and the China Association for International Education. The conference languages were Chinese and English, and the latter was used successfully and eloquently among conference attendees throughout the conference itself as well as with the ever-helpful conference assistants and hotel staff.

The Opening Ceremony was introduced by Conference Co-Director Professor AN Ran from SCUT. She warmly welcomed all participants who attended this conference on behalf of the organizing committee.This was followed by a welcome address from Professor QIU Xueqing,Vice-President of SCUT,who expressed a warm welcome on behalf of SCUT,emphasizing that people should view the world from a multi-cultural  perspective in this global era. He pointed out that cultural communication  is neither one-way penetration nor simple assimilation, but should be a dynamic process of contact, dialogue, understanding, and interpenetration. IAICS President Professor L.Brooks Hill from Trinity University, U.S.A. and CAFIC President Professor JIA Yu Xin from Harbin Institute of Technology, China addressed the conference on behalf of IAICS and CAFIC.

Dr. LIU Jinghui, chair of the China Association of International Education,then spoke, focusing on the fact that China is fast developing  in educational exchanges with other countries. She stated,  “In 2009, more than 230 thousands of foreign students from 190 countries were enrolled in 610 universities and other educational institutions  in China. Among them,18245 foreign students are sponsored by the Chinese government scholarships.” A group photo was taken after the opening ceremony.

There were two keynote speech sessions during this conference. In the first session, four keynote speakers  delivered  their presentations. The opening keynote was delivered by Professor Dan Landis of the University of Hawaii, U.S.A. His topic was Whither Goest Intercultural Communication Research: Some not so profound thoughts from a not so profound person. He attempted to peer into the future of intercultural communication research and tried to point out some research areas that would advance the field. He looked at areas such as the impact of globalization, and the potential contributions of micro-blogging, the study of diasporic populations, and the development of culture centered humor.

The second keynote speech entitled Globalization and Multilingualism: the case of the UK was delivered by Professor Viv Edwards of the University  of Reading, UK. Professor  Edwards  held that although  linguistic diversity has always been a defining feature of the British Isles, it has assumed new proportions in recent years, a period during which the transnational  flow of people has been accompanied  by a corresponding  flow of languages. She charted the changing nature of diversity and the adaptations to which it has given rise. In relation to minority communities, examples from the domains of religion, the economy, the media and the arts were used to illustrate the maintenance  of both cultural  and linguistic  identities.  In relation  to the host community,  the focus was on the growing  recognition  of the cultural and economic capital associated with multilingualism  as well as changes in conceptualization from diversity as a problem to diversity as a resource.

Professor D. Ray Heisey comes from Kent State University, U.S.A. His topic was “Iranian Perspectives on Communication in an Age of Globalization.” He argued that the Middle East–and more specifically, Iran – is an area that has not received much attention in communication  research.Iran is one of the leading nations in the Middle East region that has a culturally-rich history and civilization. The purpose of his paper was to highlight the state of the discipline of intercultural communication in Iran and some of the recent thinking and writing there that has commanded the attention of scholars  in the field. The movement  in the University of Tehran, led by Dr. Saied Reza Ameli, toward the study of intercultural communication and globalization was examined for its impact on transforming Islamic identity. Ameli’s research on cultural policy formation and cultural duality formation was also examined. His conclusion was that the efforts being made by Iranian scholars should be studied more and understood better by communication scholars so that research theory and practice in that country can take their rightful place in the globalization of communication studies.

The fourth keynote was delivered by Professor SUN Youzhong of Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, the only Chinese keynote speaker in this conference.His topic was Intercultural  Communication and Global Democracy: A Deweyan Perspective. His major research questions included: 1) What does intercultural communication imply from a Deweyan perspective? 2)What is a Deweyan version of global  democracy? 3)What is the relationship between intercultural communication and the development of global democracy? 4)What principles should guide intercultural  communication  that would contribute to the construction of global democracy? Professor SUN stressed that, from a Deweyan perspective, the construction of a global public in a global democratic community is the foundation or precondition  for global democracy.This is where intercultural communication could make its unique contribution, understood not only as practical means to satisfy immediate individual, organizational and national needs in intercultural contexts, but also as a consummate end or an intercultural democratic way of life.

In afternoon concurrent sessions,there were  many fascinating sessions throughout  the conference on additional  intercultural topics including Media, Culture and Communication;  Image, Culture and Media Discourse;Identity and Culture; Intercultural Adaptation;Language,Ethnicity and Culture;Issues in Intercultural Interaction; Education in Intercultural Context;Media,Culture and Political Communication; Advertising and Culture;Teaching and Culture;and Issues in Identity.

In a very interesting panel discussion, representatives from 15 Cross-Cultural Communication Research Centers in China gave short presentations to introduce the specific vision, research and future aims of their centres. The discussion was chaired by Professor JIA Yu Xin, Chair of the China Association of Intercultural Communication. It was noted that each center has its own characteristic pattern of development.For example, the focus of the center of Harbin, the earliest intercultural communication center in China established  in 1993,was on research  and the applications of research  for teaching, and active participation  in academic events at home and abroad.Most importantly, after many years work, they have a well-established research team. Centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xi’an are all located in foreign language and English teaching  departments.  The center in Guangzhou is the first to combine  a focus, firstly,on the Chinese language and culture with intercultural communication and, secondly, on the intercultural adaptation of international students in China.This is a pioneering area of study in China. Researchers in this center have a background in education and Chinese learning.

Several papers were presented  from the same perspective as the Guangzhou center, including that of Professor ZHOU Jian from Jinan University, who spoke on “Cultural implications in textbooks for teaching Chinese as a foreign language” in the second day of concurrent sessions .He drew attention to the dearth of research on cultural elements in textbooks, using examples of Chinese characters and words.

Another panel focused on intercultural  adaptation. LIN Decheng and AN Ran presented a paper entitled “A Study on the Cross-cultural Adaptation of International Chinese Volunteer Teachers  in Thailand.” The authors  explored  the relationship between the degrees of socio-cultural  adaptation and the psychological adaptation of the Chinese volunteer teachers, by dividing them into four different types of adaptation.The speakers also discussed the different trends in adaptation relative to the different lengths of stay in Thailand. In addition, the paper considered whether or not cross-cultural training has an impact on the adaptation of the Chinese volunteer teachers and made suggestions for future improvement.

A wide range of topics was also covered on day two including Issues on Training and Intercultural Communication, Aspects of Intercultural Communication Study,Culture and Communication,  Language and Intercultural Competence,Translation and Intercultural Communication, Risk /Conf lict Management  in Intercultural Context, Issues on Intercultural Adaptation, Advertisement and Marketing in Media,Language,Culture,and Communication,Exploration and Practice of Empirical Methods in Intercultural Communication Research in China,Health Communication and Persuasion, Language and Cross-Cultural Communication, Language and Cross-Cultural Education,Verbal/Nonverbal Aspects of Communication, Issues in International and Intercultural Communication,and Organizational Communication in a Global Context.

On Day Three, in addition to more concurrent sessions, there were three keynote speakers. The first was Professor Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University, U.S.A., father of Africentricism.  The objective of his paper was to establish  the classic African concept of communication,“Maat”, as a possible basis for understanding how communicative interactions with other people can be achieved without domination. From Maat, the idea of balance, harmony and order, it is possible to discern the meaning of human interactions and to gain insight into the nature of who we are, what we do, and who we become through how and what we say. He reported that in the Nile Valley Civilizations of Africa it was thought that at the very beginning of the universe the only critical value present was Maat, represented usually in the ancient language as a woman with an ‘ankh’, life, in her hand. Therefore, all human existence starts at the very source of the universe and everyone is really a part of everyone else. The idea of destiny, “Nkrabea,” that one finds in the Ghanaian culture, is demonstrated to be at the core of what it means to live in balance with the rest of the world. Professor Molefi Kete Asante believes that Maat might be constructed in communication as a contribution to better relations between human cultures.

The second special IAICS keynote was by Professor Michael Byram of Durham University, England. He argued  that Globalization  has many meanings and interpretations, focusing on the potential  link between globalization and the concept of ‘community.’ In particular, he considered if and how communities can exist in some ‘globalised’ form and whether they can act on some ‘global’ scale i.e., in some way which transcends national boundaries.He moved on to consider notions of citizenship–cosmopolitan and intercultural–and what these may consist of, in order to propose an approach  through foreign language teaching which combines the communication pur poses of FLT with educational  purposes, namely, the development of the full potential of the individual, enabling the individual to reflect and engage critically with the world in which they live. Professor  Michael Byram admitted frankly that the theoretical bases of his speech were unashamedly ‘western’, but argued that their rejection  on those grounds  would derive from an untenable relativist position. He expressed the hope that his considerations would be given due consideration in an ‘eastern’ context, too.

The third special IAICS keynote was by Professor Patrice M.Buzzanell of Purdue University,U.S.A.She said that as scholars  increasingly pursue engaged research and learning experiences around the globe,questions arise about the ways in which culture can be “interrogated” for cross-cultural, intercultural, and transnational dialogue.In this address, power and ethical stances were implicated in processes that are iterative,dialectic,and dialogic.

The IAICS conference concluded with a final  keynote on “Globalization Revisited,”  by Brooks Hill of Trinity University,  U.S.A. He pointed out that “we are positioned to reveal the insidiousness of this movement and its greed-motivated implications  if we concentrate  our energies  on breaking  down the rhetoric of its story lines and revealing  these frameworks  for what they may entail. By making these trends more explicit, we can operate with more critical awareness of what we are doing to each other, what dangers we might correct, and how we can convert globalization into more socially responsible phenomena.”

In the moving Closing Ceremony, Professor LIU Jianbo of South China University of Technology, China, proclaimed/asserted  that the 16th IAICS World Conference  in Guangzhou, China had been one of the most successful conferences in IAICS history. Professor  Margaret  D'Silva of University  of Louisville, U.S.A. received a reward for her work as editor in chief of ICS (journal of IAICS) for 3 years. Professor AN Ran and her organizing committee team also received awards for their excellent  and efficient  service. Finally, Professor Sarah Corona Berkin of Universidad  de Guadalajara invited all to attend the 2011 IAICS conference in Mexico. A sumptuous final banquet at the Hotel Canton provided an opportunity for all attendees to enjoy each other’s  company and to strengthen future  ties. Foreign students from different countries at SCUT gave an extremely entertaining performance.Finally, the banquet was brought to a close with the singing of “Friendship will last forever.”

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South China University of Technology, Guangzhou University Town, Panyu District, Guangzhou, China 510006