In order to mark the association’s 20th anniversary, the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication (IALIC) invites abstracts of 300 words that address the theme of “Issues, controversies and difficult questions” in the field of Intercultural Communication for an online symposium in November 2020. The symposium will involve hearing from, and engaging with, carefully selected speakers in a series of short online presentations over the course of a week. Please see the symposium schedule and the eight selected abstracts below.
From Intercultural to Transcultural Communication
Will Baker, Centre for Global Englishes, University of Southampton
The diversity and fluidity of communicative practices, seen in current intercultural communication and
global Englishes research, raises difficult questions about how we understand core concepts such as
culture and language. Links between linguistic resources, other modes, and cultures are created in situ
suggesting that relationships between ‘named’ languages and cultures cannot be taken for granted. In
particular, we frequently see emergent cultural practices and references which are neither part of any
one culture or, crucially, necessarily in-between any particular identifiable cultures (Baker &
Sangiamchit, 2019). Thus, the traditional metaphor of ‘inter’ for intercultural communication is no
longer adequate in conceptualising communicative practices where linguistic and cultural boundaries
are moved through and across, rather than in-between. Yet, culture is still felt to be a relevant category
for participants and/or researchers and needs to be accounted for. Such communication may be better
approached as transcultural communication where borders are transcended, transgressed and in the
process transformed. Transcultural communication is an important step furthering, although not
replacing, intercultural communication research and linking the field to the wider ‘trans’ turn in applied
linguistics including translanguaging and transmodality (Hawkins & Mori, 2018). A transcultural
communication perspective accounts for the complexity of communication in which participants make
use of the affordances provided by diverse repertoires of multicultural, multilingual, and multimodal
resources. To support this argument I will present an example from a study of a multilingual and
multicultural community in the contemporary social spaces of a SNS and link this to transcultural,
translanguaging and transmodal perspectives to provide a holistic account of interaction and meaning
Baker, W., & Sangiamchit, C. (2019). Transcultural communication: Language, communication and
culture through English as a lingua franca in a social network community. Language and Intercultural
Communication, 19(6), 471-487.
Hawkins, M. R., & Mori, J. (2018). Considering ‘Trans-’ Perspectives in Language Theories and Practices.
Applied Linguistics, 39(1), 1-8.
Will Baker is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of the Centre for Global
Englishes, University of Southampton, UK. His research interests are Global Englishes, Intercultural and
Transcultural Communication, Intercultural education, Intercultural Citizenship, English medium
education and ELT. He has published and presented internationally in all these areas.
Transnational research on COVID-19: Plurilingualism, interculturality and inter-
Manuela Guilherme, Universidade de Coimbra, Centro de Estudos Sociais
In this paper, I am going to raise some issues, controversies and difficult questions
about the role of language, culture and epistemology in transnational research. Science
is assumed to be objective, value-free and a means of universal systematic knowledge
production. For this purpose, it needs observation, experiment and demonstration in
order to reach that stage. Scientific achievements are mainly focused on the results and
the process is expected to be cleared of elements which may distract the clarity of
results. Nevertheless, science, as described above, has promoted a great improvement in
our longevity and quality of life. What is science and, therefore, different academic
cultures, has also generated scholarship controversy and difficult questions. However,
the focus on clarity, objectivity and results has disregarded the complexity of the
process and contextual knowledge. Hence, the hegemony of language, culture and
epistemology which, by dismissing alternatives, strengthens the absolutism of science.
This reminder is not meant to threat but to challenge. In this paper, I am going to report
some issues, controversies and difficult questions which arose during my research
project with five research groups in Brasil and talk about a conceptual matrix I am
proposing, entitled Glocademia, and its three axes: – Glocademics, the description of a
transnational researcher’s identity; – Glocal languages, a simultaneously global and
local perception of language-in-use; and – Intercultural responsibility, which calls for
the engagement in cosmopolitan responsible citizenship in science and society. This
paper will finally give way to a discussion about how this conceptual matrix may
contribute to understand the transnational attempts to find medical help for COVID 19
from the point of view of language, culture and epistemology.
Guilherme, M. (2020) Intercultural Responsibility. In W. Leal Filho (ed.) and A. M. Azul, L.
Brandli, G. Özuyar and T. Wall (co-eds.) Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development
Goals. Basel: Springer Nature
Guilherme, M. (2020) Intercultural Responsibility: Transnational research and glocal critical
citizenship. In J. Jackson (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural
Communication (2nd ed.). London: Routledge
Guilherme, M. (2019) Introduction: The critical and decolonial quest for intercultural
epistemologies and discourses. In Intercultural Multilateralities: Pluri-dialogic imaginations,
globo-ethical positions and epistemological ecologies (Special Issue). Journal of Multicultural
Discourse, 14: 1, 1-13
Guilherme, M. (2019) Glocal languages beyond postcolonialism: The metaphorical North and
the South in the geographical north and south. In M. Guilherme & L. M. T. M. Souza (eds.)
Glocal Languages and Critical Intercultural Awareness: The South answers back(pp. 42-64).
London and New York: Routledge
Guilherme, M. (2018) ‘Glocal languages’: The ‘globalness’ and the ‘localness’ of world
languages. In S. Coffey and U. Wingate (eds.) New Directions for Research in Foreign Language
Education (pp. 79-96). Abingdon: Routledge
Mignolo, W. D. and Walsh C. E. (2018) On Decoloniality: Concepts, analytics and praxis.
Durham and London: Duke University Press
Santos, B. S. (2018). The End of the Cognitive Empire: The coming of age of Epistemologies of
the South. Durham and London: Duke University Press
Manuela Guilherme has been a senior researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais,
Universidade de Coimbra since 2002. She was awarded a PhD degree in Education by the University of Durham, UK (2000) and completed a 2-year postdoctoral programme at the
Universidade de S. Paulo (2016). She has coordinated several international projects funded by
the European Commission, from whom she was also awarded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie
research fellowship (2014-2017).
From intercultural communication to intercultural attitude
Flavia Monceri, University of Molise (Italy), email@example.com
In this paper I argue for two main points. Firstly, I maintain that intercultural communication cannot
strive to be one of the “disciplines” and “fields” making up the system of “modern science”. We
should definitely reject the idea that we could be able to reduce the complexity of the “intercultural”
(as well as of the “multicultural” and the “transcultural”, for that matters) to a clear set of
assumptions, theories and models, especially referring to a notion of “culture” to be radically
deconstructed and decolonized. Rather, we should think of intercultural communication as
something overlapping with the myriads of concrete interactions performed between individuals
(even when they interact “in group”). In fact, if each and every interaction contains a certain
amount of diversity and differences, all interpersonal communication is “intercultural”. Intercultural
communication is an-archical process, i.e. a process not governed by a single principle or rule
(archè), and cannot be neither “thought” nor “taught” following the rules of pre-existing and/or
specifically constructed theoretical systems or models. Things being so, secondly, what we can do
is to achieve an attitude allowing us to effectively cope with diversity and differences in the always
complex environments we are situated in, both at the “scholarly” and the “ordinary” levels. After
having personally achieved that kind of attitude we can hope to “suggest by showing” (not to
“teach”) it to “others”, who will be however totally free to accept or refuse our attitude, just as we
will be free to accept or refuse theirs. Of course, this means that we should also become able to
cope with both success and failure of the intercultural encounter, deciding case-by-case what to do
on the level of theory as well as in practice.
Halualani, R.T., and T.K. Nakayama. 2010. “Critical intercultural communication studies: At a
crossroads”. In The handbook of critical intercultural communication, ed. T.K. Nakayama and R.T.
Halualani, 1–16. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
MacDonald, M.N., and J.P. O’Regan. 2012. “A global agenda for intercultural communication
research and practice”. In The Routledge handbook of language and intercultural communication,
ed. J. Jackson, 553–67. Oxon: Routledge.
Monceri, F. 2014. “Unmasking epistemic ethnocentrism: ‘Rethinking Nature’ as an Intercultural
Project”, Teoria, vol. 34, n. 2, 193-212.
Monceri, F. 2016. “Dialogue and Power: Preliminary Steps to Overcoming an Opposition”, Teoria,
vol. 36, n. 1, 45-63.
Monceri, F. 2019. “Beyond universality: rethinking transculturality and the transcultural self”,
Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 14:1, 78-91.
Flavia Monceri is Full professor of Political philosophy at the University of Molise (Campobasso,
Italy), where sie teaches also Gender Studies and Multiculturalism and Intercultural
Communication. Sie holds an MA in Political Sciences (University of Pisa, Italy) and a Ph.D. in
Philosophy of the Social Sciences (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy).
Conflict, crisis and creativity: Critical intercultural pedagogy for difficult times
Prue Holmes, Durham University
John Corbett, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University (BNU-HKBU), United
International College, China
How can educators support young people in and excluded from education to develop an ethic of
care, participation, and responsibility as societies and communities founder? How can the arts and
humanities promote forms of intercultural education that engage young people with difference,
diversity, marginalisation and exclusion, thereby enhancing critical, participatory and responsible
citizenship? To address these difficult questions, we employ “critical” and “decolonising” lenses
(Freire, 1970; Phipps, 2019; Smith, 2012) to investigate language and intercultural communication
research and pedagogy in Higher Education (HE). Through a 1-year international/multidisciplinary
project involving 13 researchers in five case-study sites (Brazil, Colombia, Gaza, Turkey, UK), we
initiated South-South/North-South conversations among researchers, educators and students in HE,
and those excluded from it (due to conflict and forced migration). To explore the intersections and
interstices of language, culture, and identity in intercultural communication, we worked with and for
the research participants (young people), not on or about them, to decentre and question our own
power in the research process (Ladegaard & Phipps, 2020; Smith, 2012).
In our critical, decolonising task, we employed new materialism and creative arts methods (e.g.,
Harvey et al., 2019) which facilitate shared meaning making and dialogue among
researchers/educators and young people. These methods allow for multiple subject positions,
embodiment, and the messiness and complexity of real life encounters between intercultural
subjects (Ferri, 2020). They also offer a space for collaborative, social engagement and
transformation, thus promoting inclusion, understanding, and communication. We drew on photo
collages, reinterpretations of transnational religious and secular musical traditions, drama, go-
alongs, and creative and life writing.
Our findings offer an attempt at decolonising language and intercultural communication research
through researcher/researched co-creation and South-North dialogue. The intersections of critical
pedagogy, new materialism, creative arts, and meaningful intercultural encounters suggest a critical
and decolonising research and education trajectory for difficult times.
The research draws from the international project “Building an intercultural pedagogy in higher
education in conditions of conflict and protracted crises: Languages, identity, culture” (BIPHEC),
funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund (AHRC GCRF)
(AH/S003967/1), January to December, 2019.
Ferri, G. (2020). Difference, becoming and rhizomatic subjectivities beyond ‘otherness’: A
posthuman framework for intercultural communication. Language and Intercultural Communication.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Harvey, L., McCormick, B., & Vanden, K. (2019). Becoming at the boundaries of language: Dramatic
enquiry for intercultural learning in UK higher education. Language and Intercultural
Communication, 19(6), 451-470.
Ladegaard, H.J., & Phipps, A. (2020). Introduction: Intercultural research and social activism.
Language and Intercultural Communication, 20(2), 67-80.
Phipps, A. (2019). Decolonising multilingualism. Struggles to decreate. Bristol, UK: Multilingual
Smith, L.T. (2012) Decolonising methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples (2 nd ed.). London:
Prue Holmes is Professor, School of Education, Durham University (UK). She publishes widely on
intercultural and international education, and languages and intercultural communication. Prue has
worked on several international projects and AHRC UKRI-funded projects. She is lead editor of the
Multilingual Matters book series Researching Multilingually.
John Corbett is Professor of English Language and Literature at Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong
Baptist University (BNU-HKBU) United International College, China. He is widely published in
intercultural language education; the second edition of his monograph An Intercultural Approach to
English Language Teaching is due to be published in 2021.
Health behaviour as an emerging marker of cultural belonging: The case of Chinese
students in the UK during the Covid-19 crisis
Zhu Hua, University of Birmingham
Rodney Jones, University of Reading
Sylvia Jaworska, University of Reading
Recent work in language and intercultural communication has embraced more postmodern,
performative and interdiscursive approaches to the concept of culture, and this more ‘fluid’
understanding of culture has also gained popular acceptance in, for example, discussions of
‘interculturality’ (e.g., Zhu, 2019). At the same time, there are situations in which reified notions of
‘national culture’ can become salient, as people deploy new membership categorisation device (Sacks,
1972) to negotiate in-group and out-group membership, especially in times of crisis. This paper explores
how Covid-19 and responses to it (for example, wearing face masks) have polarised both differences
between cultures and within communities and come to function as markers of in- and out- group, and
the consequences of this for researching and understanding intercultural communication in times of
turbulence. It draws on data from a community-based participatory project which aimed to understand
the communication challenges of Chinese university students studying in the UK during the COVID-19
pandemic. While residing in a foreign country in the midst of a global pandemic is difficult for all
international students, Chinese students faced unique challenges arising from differences in their
personal health practices with those of many others living in the UK, pressures from family members
and friends back in China, the threat of COVID-19 related discrimination, and the new kind of precarity
amid the changing global geopolitical landscape. The paper examines how these students’ behaviour in
response to the pandemic affected the ways they were positioned as outsiders and ‘unwanted’ both in
the UK and in China and how anxiety and uncertainty that people have experienced during the
pandemic have heightened their sensitivity and hostility towards (intercultural) differences. These
findings show that there is an urgent need for a more nuanced approach to researching cultural
belonging and differences in times of conflict and crisis.
This project is made possible by a grant from the British Academy Special COVID-19 Fund.
Zhu Hua is Professor of Educational Linguistics, International lead for the School of Education, and
Director of the Mosaic Group for Research on Multilingualism at the University of Birmingham. Her
research focuses on intercultural communication and the experiences of migrants in the UK.
Rodney H. Jones is Professor of Sociolinguistics and Head of the Department of English Language and
Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading. He works in the areas of intercultural health
communication and digital literacies.
Dr Sylvia Jaworska is Associate Professor of Professional Communication at the University of Reading.
Her areas of research include institutional communication and corpus assisted discourse analysis.
What can we learn from COVID-19 about interculturality: A call for an anthropocosmic
approach to intercultural communication
The Year 2020 has placed the whole human community at risk; it has not only threatened
health and even lives of millions across the world but also posed questions on people’s
established perceptions and practices when facing the pandemic as individuals of
multiple identities and institutions at different levels and of different functions. While anti-
COVID-19 is a global war against coronavirus, it has also turned out to be a hard war
against racism, populism, nationalisms and deglobalization. What can we learn from
COVID-19 as intercultural communication researchers and educators? This presentation
will explore how an anthropocosmic approach to intercultural communication in light of
Confucian spiritual humanism and proposed Jia, Y.X., the Chinese leading scholar in
intercultural communication studies and intercultural foreign language education, may
offer alternative ways of understanding interculturality and preparing us for the global
challenges of COVID-19 and the like as global citizens and educators of global citizens.
The presentation will introduce the anthropocosmic approach in contrast with the
prevailing anthropocentric approach to interculturality and then showcase how the
anthropocosmic approach has been applied to an intercultural communication course for
Chinese university students after the outbreak of COVID-!9 pandemic. Evidence from
student reflection journals and responses to questions on interculturality related COVID-
19 issues demonstrate that an anthropocosmic approach provides the students a new
way of learning to be and learning to live together in the global community and guide
them out of the ambivalences of multi-identities and the contention between essentialist
and non-essentialist views of self and the cultural other. The presentation concludes by a
call for an anthropocosmic approach to interculturality and intercultural communication in
the global and local contexts.
SONG Li (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Institution: Harbin Institute of Technology, China
Brief bio: Professor at the School of International Studies, Harbin Institute of Technology
(China). PhD in English Language and Literature from Shanghai International Studies
University (China). Research interests include intercultural communicative approach to
foreign language education, intercultural dialogicality in foreign language learning,
anthropocosmic worldview and global intercultural communication. Major investigators
and participants in several national and international research projects on interculturality
in Chinese higher education contexts.
JIA Xuelai (email@example.com)
Institution: Harbin Institute of Technology, China
Brief bio: Associate professor at the School of International Studies, Harbin Institute of
Technology (China). PhD in Education from Sydney University (Australia). Research
interests include identity in intercultural communication, intercultural dimension in foreign
language education, intercultural education, anthropocosmic worldview and intercultural
Digital Interculturality: A Digital Turn for Intercultural Communication Studies
Fergal Lenehan, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Luisa Conti, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Roman Lietz, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Milene Mendes de Oliveira, Universität Potsdam
The world has experienced an increase in authoritarianism, often in an internationalised form and fuelled by Internet communication. One of the difficult questions that scholars of Intercultural Communication must ask themselves is to what extent the subject has failed in relation to this upsurge. Have the subject’s existent paradigms not allowed for this to be examined and possibly countered?
Within German-language Intercultural Studies, ‘cultures’ have been viewed as the process oriented negotiation of life-world norms, marked by plurality (Reckwitz 2000). Culturality is seen by Jürgen Bolten as “familiar multiplicity” (Bolten 2015: 118). Interculturality is then seen as a theoretical term denoting a situation in which the supposed commonality of culture is lacking. Thus, for Bolten, interculturality is represented by increased uncertainty and ambiguity, and may be viewed as “unfamiliar multiplicity”. Life-worlds have become increasingly intertwined with digital communication and magnified significantly, while the intersection of life-worlds has accelerated. We suggest, thus, the term digital interculturality for this expansion and see this as the ubiquitous un/familiar multiplicity of everyday life, symbolised by the smart phone (Vincent and Haddon 2019), in which agents exist within a variety of intercultural communication streams.
If Intercultural Communication scholarship truly wants to make a difference in relation to prejudice, exclusion, and forms of oppression, should it not at least partially re-orient itself towards examining the intercultural communication streams of digital interculturality? This would necessitate a coming together of Internet Studies (Dutton 2014; Hargittai and Hsieh 2014; Lenehan 2017) and Intercultural Communication and require methodological innovation. Such a view would open up new areas of study which could chart and analyse online neo-nationalisms and neo-cosmopolitanisms; centring on the ubiquitous un/familiar multiplicity of everyday life and how the new world of digital interculturality feeds into and maybe even creates new ideologies.
We will briefly introduce the main theoretical standpoints of our newly-founded interdisciplinary research group ReDICo (Researching Digital Interculturality Co-operatively), which aims to found a transnational interdisciplinary network centring on digital interculturality.
Bolten, Jürgen (2015): Einführung in die Interkulturelle Wirtschaftskommunikation. Göttingen: V&R.
Dutton, William H. (2014): “Internet Studies: The Foundation of a Transformative Field”. William H. Dutton (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Oxford: University Press, p. 1-23.
Hargittai, Eszter and Hsieh, Yuli Patrick (2014): “Digital Inequality”. William H. Dutton (ed.),The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies, 129-150.
Lenehan, Fergal (2017). Intercultural Media Studies: Stereotypes and Ideology as the Textual Semantics and Syntax of Journalistic Articles of ‘Other’ Cultures, with examples from the Irish-German and German-Greek Contexts. In: Interculture Journal: Online Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Studien 17/29, 9-26.
Reckwitz, Andreas (2000), Die Transformation der Kulturtheorien: Zur Entwicklung eines Theorieprogramms. Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft.
Vincent, Jane, and Haddon, Leslie (eds.) (2019): Smartphone Culture. New York and London: Routledge.
Originally from Ireland, PD Dr. Fergal Lenehan has examined representations of Europe and Ireland in the media context from a cultural studies perspective and has authored two monographs on this topic. He has published on cultural theory, German-Irish relations and social media.
Dr. Luisa Conti’s academic work has centred upon mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion and the development of inclusion-promoting competencies within educational contexts. She has worked extensively on computer-mediated communication as part of the EU action research project SHARMED (www.sharmed.eu).
Dr. Roman Lietz’s research has examined questions of integration and participation with a focus on acculturation in the areas of structural, cultural (language and acculturation) and social integration (participation in voluntary work and club sports).
Dr. Milene Mendes de Oliveira’s academic work focuses on the interface of applied linguistics, cognitive and cultural linguistics and intercultural communication. She has conducted research on intercultural communication in foreign language teaching and in business contexts. She is also a researcher of English as a Lingua Franca in the corporate world.
Intercultural encounters and refugee social integration in Greece
Eva Polymenakou, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
Since 2015 the unprecedented number of approximately 1,240,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece (UNHCR, 2020a). Due to the fragmented experiences their trajectories are likely to entail, their participation in the receiving local communities is considered essential so that they can rebuild a sense of belonging and regain a sense of agency in their lives (Inter-Agency Standing Committee, 2007). This can be challenging as refugees in Greece often live in limbo (Arvanitis et al., 2019). The Covid-19 situation has posed yet another challenge to the work of organisations endeavouring to offer them practical and emotional support.
This paper discusses the preliminary findings of a critical ethnographic case study of New Map, the intercultural centre of a Greek NGO located in the heart of Athens. The mission of New Map is to facilitate the social integration of refugees and to foster interculturality. Τo that end it offers on its premises numerous services, including language and employability courses for adults and activities for children. The paper analyses the opportunities for intercultural encounters (Holmes and O’Neil, 2012) that the work of New Map affords to its beneficiaries and to other people from the local community, including its employees and volunteers. It seeks to understand the possible relationship between refugees’ new life experiences in Athens and the intercultural quality of their encounters with local people – or the absence of these. It thus aims to contribute to the timely discussion on effective ways of fostering the ‘interculturalisation’ of host societies so that everyone can flourish in them (Jones, 2015), especially against the backdrop of the scarce documentation of the actions currently being carried out by several organisations for migrants and refugees in Greece (Stergiou and Simopoulos, 2019). Qualitative data have so far been gathered through participant observation and individual interviews.
Arvanitis, E., Yelland, N. and Kiprianos, P. (2019). Liminal Spaces of Temporary Dwellings: Transitioning to New Lives in Times of Crisis. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 33 (1), 134-144.
Holmes, P. and O’Neill, G. (2012). Developing and evaluating intercultural competence: Ethnographies of intercultural encounters. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36, 707-718.
Inter-Agency Standing Commitee (2007). IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. Geneva: IASC.
Jones, E. (2015). Culture change and exchanging culture: The role of languages in Internationalisation. In Orme, M., ed, Supporting internationalisation through languages and culture in the twenty-first-century university. Oxford: Peter Lang, 11-22.
Stergiou, L. and Simopoulos, G. (2019). Μετά το κοντέινερ. Διαπολιτισμική ματιά στην εκπαίδευση προσφύγων [After the container. An intercultural look at refugee education]. Athens: Gutenberg.
UNHCR (2020a). Operational Portal: Refugee Situations. Greece: UNHCR. Available from: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/mediterranean/location/5179 [Accessed 12 April 2020]
Born and raised in Greece, Eva is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of West Attica. She holds a PhD in Intercultural Communication and Education from the University of Bath. Her research interests include Experiential Intercultural Learning, Community-based learning, Teacher Education, Foreign Language Education and Immigrant and Refugee integration.
LAIC special issue
Following the online symposium, there will be a call for a special issue of IALIC’s journal Language and Intercultural Communication, to be published in early 2022, where the selected presenters and other researchers/scholars in the wider academic community will be invited to submit full papers on the issues, controversies, and difficult questions, addressing these topics, or a topic of their choice. Details about the call will be forthcoming immediately after the online symposium.
If you have any further questions about the event, please contact the symposium organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org
The symposium organisers are:
Maria José Coperías
Zhuomin (Min) Huang