Blog Post #5

The Intercultural Paradox 

     The Jim, Paula, and Hussein story is a prime example of understanding van Asperen’s conceptual framework of the Intercultural Paradox. Jim and Paula block off the importance of communication due to their personal views and definition of culture. Therefore, the lack of knowledge of the Intercultural Paradox, makes both Jim and Paula less creative and vulnerable to the subject of culture. Another concluding example states is if a man in the Netherlands and a man in India share many similarities in their way of thinking; however, their dominant definition of culture would describe themselves as different, because “culture” has come to terms to declare differences “beforehand.”

With these two examples in mind, the “us-them” dynamic is applied to our own research in the Global village class. The Photo Essay sends Arlington and Groningen members into local communities, in which we search for global connections thru the lens of a camera. It was quite easy to point out the major differences between our signs of transportation or different advertisements versus another country. In fact, while walking past an Indian shop, I remember looking at an advertisement with much confusion, trying to decipher what the image represented. However, a fellow classmate shifted my mindset to see the ‘imaginary line’ of the intercultural paradox, and gave me the historical background. That situation is an example of when uncertainty and lack of knowledge creates the barrier and creates an “us-them” scenario. This specific project, we are searching for global connections that will create an “us-them” dynamic; however, how you interpret and expand your perspective to grasp the meaning of the culture, is the true knowledge to gain. Therefore, when analyzing the photos Team Anime chose, we establish, yes, there is a cultural difference; however, can we dig deeper and understand why it differs, and is there any further comparisons with other cultures as well.

While referring to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which “entitles individuals to speak for themselves and to arrange their lives as they please, albeit in an environment where everyone has that right,” the author establishes the following term: ‘Communicative Moral Universalism.’ This term is based off on: “unique individuals, encounters, dialogue and universal values, and with its reactions it offers an alternative to the intercultural ideology.” It it a three part approach to 1. ones view on the world,  2. view on culture and diversity, and 3. Views of man. The author’s ideas can be applied to Team Anime’s intercultural collaboration thru team communication, interpretations of materials, and personal experience/knowledge. 

While taking photos for the Photo Essay Project, both the Arlington and Groningen members are no longer viewing our own cultures, but of different cultures around the world that relate or differ from ours. We are drawing bigger parallels and understanding globalization from a different perspective. Therefore, it is important that when we discuss, we discuss diversity and consider universal fundamental values. Each member interprets this new information and shares either personal experiences or considers new trademarks of different societies. This leads to deep conversations exploring new cultures and drawing similarities or differences to better understand the connections we make thru the photographs.

As a team, we understand we are working from different sides of the globe, and we acknowledge the fact that in our respective cultures, we have major similarities, as well as major differences. No problem. We have accepted the concept that, “Every person is unique,” as well as, “Cultural events, connotations and relationships are modified as a result of a continuous process of human interaction.” For instance, when teammates suggest tips to help better organize thoughts, or provide suggestions on how to write our captions, we are open to their ideas and so far we have agreed upon the contributions. When we took the photos as well, each Arlington group member pointed out different shops, restaurants, and pieces of advertisement. Then, we went back and as a whole group, we selected the 5 photos from Arlington and the 5 photos from Groningen. In this sense, we all shared our own opinions and found more obvious similarities of examples of globalization. 

Lastly, communication the BIGGEST component to this group project has continued to been a challenge, but not to the extent that it can not be fixed, or that problems are reoccurring. In fact, Team Anime has greatly embraced the last part of the Communicative Moral Universalism, in which, “A person is responsible for his own behaviour and is in that sense also responsible for the greater community.” The roles we each played at the beginning of this project has interchanged and has created a stronger team bond. I believe that after the Timeline project, we realized that our actions greatly affect our understanding of globalization; therefore, I feel we have embraced accepting new responsibilities on behalf of the Arlington and Groningen group.


2 Comments on “Blog Post #5

  1. Interesting post and thoughtful reflection. As I think about your post, I sense that you are two groups as well a one team. Sometimes you feel like “we” is Team Anime and at other times “we” is based on your geographical reference point, the Arlington group — I wonder whether van Asperen thought that people would be all one category or another — or if people are so complex that they might act in different ways depending on the situation. Thoughts?

    • Very thoughtful reflection, thank you Janine. I feel I don’t really take notice of the use of “we,” when discussing or reflecting on projects. I just assume it’s an easier way than writing out all names. However, after reading Van Asperen’s article, I specifically remember a statement he made that stranded out the most in my mind. “Every person is unique,” as well as, “Cultural events, connotations and relationships are modified as a result of a continuous process of human interaction. Therefore, maybe I’m not doing justice by insisting “we” for different groups, and by stating each member’s name I recognize their uniqueness and the perspectives EACH teammate offers individually, as a whole to the group.

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