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Issues with “culture”

Multiple locations for research

A few days ago Mehri and I visited an estate agent because we are trying to sell our apartment. The person we had an appointment to meet was late, so we were invited to sit and wait for about twenty minutes. During this time there was so much to look …

So what do we mean by intercultural?

The intercultural is to do with interaction between people with different cultural experience. This difference is more obvious where the experience is markedly divergent as a result of histories, grand narratives and practices that are specific to particular societies with their economies, political systems, geographies and events. The particularities of …

About boundaries of cultures

I have talked about small cultures as being things that can be seen and described. Does this mean that they exist as things, as entities that have boundaries? And if they do, can we not work up from this and think of there being large cultures with boundaries? And if …

What is it possible to say and think about culture?

In a non-essentialist approach we try to avoid using stereotypes to define and confine the characteristics of members of ‘a culture’. We recognise that national or ethnic cultures are largely ‘imagined’ – ideologically defined, the constructs of political, nationalistic, militaristic or other such agendas and narratives – carved by the …

Narratives as dark matter

I am referring to narratives as the stories that we use to make sense of the world and of each other. They are sometimes provided for us by the social structures that we are brought up with, though political ideologies, all sorts of media, what we are taught at school …

What to say about nation

There has been a swing away from an essentialist approach to culture and from taking the nation state as the basic definer of everything around us. We should not however go too far in discounting everything that our national upbringing gives us, but put these influences in their place. It …

Blocking threads and threading blocks

Following my posts about blocks and threads, further writing, and having spoken about them at the IALIC conference in Beijing, here are some more observations. We cannot be naïve about the simple value of threads – about pulling threads from our own cultural experience to meet with those of others, …

Engaging with foreign places

Following my previous posts about blocks and threads, I can now see why it is so important for people who stay in foreign places for a long time to engage with their histories and cultural scenes. I am thinking particularly about students I know who come from far away but …