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Crossing the Decade

发布者:跨文化传播学术网 发布时间:2012/4/16 23:26:44    阅读:1118

Author:Xiao Jun

Translated by Feng Jiawen

Time is such an intriguing thing.

As you hurriedly pass it by, you ignore the existence of time. Each day's sunrise and sunset seem to be no more than ordinary repetition. However, when you stop and look down your past road, in the halo of light you will pick up the fragments of memories . Now, what you hold in your hand is not only a memory but rather, the people who share our experiences, the circumstances and the shared meanings that shape our history.

The International Conference on Intercultural Communication started in Bordeaux, France in 2003. In the warmth of June's summer of 2004, the 1st ICIC meeting was held at Luojia Shan, by Wuhan University for the first time in the school's history. By 2013, ICIC had already reached a decade. Prof.Shanbo said, if we compared the passing seven conferences to feasts, then the communication between us and guests was worth commemorating.

Luckily, I was witness to the proceedings these past ten years. Since 2004 (except 2007-2008, when I joined the Feynman Project of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I  did academic communication and research work), I have been directly involved in the conference’s administrative affairs. My involvement in academic conferences unconsciously  which annealed myself and improved my academic thoughts.

Communication: Ten years of intercultural dialogue

In June 2004, in the conference hall situated in Donghu (East Lake) the appearance of French scholar Armand Mattelart and his wife triggered a commotion. Some attendees whispered :”I didn’t  expected I could see Prof.Mattelart in Wuhan !”  These academic enthusiasts' excitement made me, a novice, surprised. I realized afterwards, that Prof.Mattelart was famous worldwide for his academic achievements and published works such as; "Multi-national Corporations and the control of Culture" ,but he had not attended any academic conferences for a long time. Many scholars never imagined to see this ’hermit’ in Wuhan University's conference.

In fact, his appearance was the result of an academic interaction between October and December in 2003 when Prof.Wang Zhijie and Prof.Shanbo visited Prof.Mattelart twice in which they proceeded to have close to 5 hours of academic discussion. Such a rich discussion helped to bring about Professor Mattelart and his wife's travel to Wuhan. Besides Prof.Mattelart, there were also scholars from France, Britain , America, Japan, Canada, Mainland China, Taiwan and HongKong totaling to over 100 scholars to gather together in an shared academic sphere.  Also attending were creator of French Organizational Communication --Prof. Hugues Hotier; British Political Economy of Communication leading authority Prof.Graham Murdock; English cultural research scholar Prof.John Storey; and Worldwide-known comic researcher Prof.John Lent.     

In 2003, Professor Wang Zhijie acted as a go between during his stay in France. Professor Hotier invited many Wuhan University professors to Bordeaux University 3 to launch the first China-France International Intercultural Conference. both parties decided to regard this as a turning point at the joint run 2004 Wuhan University Conference. They reached an mutual agreement that next conference would be held in Whu,2004.This time, in the process of arranging he conference, Scholars from all over the world  generously shared their academic connections for example, Prof.Hotier, Prof.Hong Junhao and Prof.ZhangGehao. They became promoters for internationalizing Whu Intercultural Communication research. After 2004, Some attending overseas scholars invited scholars from Wuhan University to continue intercultural interaction in England, Morocco, France, Canada, America, HongKong and Taiwan, leaving behind their footprints in each place.

Luckily, I visited the Sunderland University and the Loughborough University with delegations of WHU in 2005. Not only had I experienced distinctive English historical and modern characteristics, but also became intoxicated with the special aesthetic perceptions of British English in academic interaction. Prof.Storey introduced our research achievements enthusiastically, he wanted more British researchers become familiar with an understanding of Chinese communication research. As a cultural researcher, Pro.Storey showed us around campus, shores and bars all the while telling us stories about the British. He wanted us to comprehend British culture furthermore.

Wearing a grey wind coat, Pro.Murdock stood in the Loughborough railway station alone to greet us. His iconic messy white hair was blown by the cold wind of British spring and black coal ash of the Industrial Revolution era still remained on the wall behind him. Professor shook hands with us one by one, smiling, with a simple greeting:” How are you, Xiao?”, which made me feel warm. After communicating with professors and students of Loughborough University, Prof.Shanbo and I interviewed Prof.Murdock with the help of Doctor.Zhang Gehao. His system of values concerning the   Political Economics of Communication impressed me. He emphasized constantly that the Political Economics of Communication should be connected with moral philosophy, which meant defending citizenship, justice and equality. European journalism and communication studies' philosophical differentiation methods and heavy importance of  social responsibility influenced my academic career profoundly.

Traveling in England is merely Wuhan University's researchers one of the many   is just an epitome in the intercultural exchanges of Wuhan University. Many teachers and students of WHU have continuously received from the 7 ICIC conferences, congenial aspiration and interests from the overseas researchers. created a considerably diverse cooperation including successfully carrying out academic overseas visits, international conferences, exchange study and joint research. Proposed by famous Swedish Intercultural scholar Prof.Jens Allwod, WHU intercultural communication research center held the first intercultural summer camp with Swedish related institutions and started a new mode of intercultural communication between China and Sweden. The efforts and persistence of WHU’s researchers routinize the ICIC, besides conference, other forms of intercultural interaction also make an access to intercultural communication, which will have profound influence.

Surge: Respect and Communication across cultural barriers

How is the discussion among researchers on intercultural communication brought about? It really is an interesting research topic. As cross cultural communication researchers, in each different part of our world, in our different locations, we quite often stop and think deeply and imagine, and then when we get together, will it not be an intriguing setting?

The first image that appears in my mind surprises me when I recall the year 2004, that being, foreign scholars dressed in suits, ready to attend the conference dinner. Some were elegant and dignified or were at ease, speaking freely or beautiful and charming. Before the meeting they were strangers, however this quickly changed. Already, they had rapidly established mutual interest and trust; some were dancing, some teased each other, others were speaking with fervor and assurance. (Unfamiliarity was taken place by trust) For a fleeting moment, as the setting sun over the East lake shone upon them, these scholars attending this conference for such serious discussions seemed so soft and vivid.

Ten years later, the communication among our inter-cultural researchers has become more fluid and intimate, they bridged cultural obstacles and realized respected and effective academic interaction. In addition to the aforementioned counties and regions, the 7th ICIC in 2013 has been extended to New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Korea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In fact, I asked the attendees a similar question: “Why would you be willing to come to Wuhan University?” To be honest, we often feel indebted to each scholar, some of them needed to survive the torment of Wuhan’s blazing hot summer, some experienced unexpected wet winters without heat, some experienced troubles connecting to the Wifi. However, these researchers still come here from thousands of miles away. Perhaps it’s fate.

The president of International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (IAICS), Professor at The University of Rhode Island, Chen Guo-Ming highly praised WHU’s intercultural research groups and series of achievements. He commented on Professor. Shanbo’s book ”The Problems and Possibilities in Intercultural Communication”: ”Presenting important aspects of problems in Intercultural Commnunication by searching problems and possibilities of human comprehension in global context. An excellent work that can stimulate thoughts in the research of intercultural communication.”[1] When I met Prof.Chen in the U.S.A, 2014 and at IAICS in HongKong, 2015, he said passionately:” WHU’s conference discussion topics are always frontier and valuable. ” He not only shared his research findings, he also from time to time gave me advice.

World famous communication scholar, Professor Colin Sparks who attended our conferences many times), taught in the University of Westminster and now teaches in Hong Kong Baptist University. He has quick thinking and trenchant investigative vision. He referred many times why he would like to visit WHU because there were do some scholars exploring in academic research. As Prof.Sparks said, our conference did have heated disputes in which empirical researchers and speculative researchers involved. With more different interpretation being come up with, the conference ending time had been postponed. Political Economy of Communication representative scholar, Chinese Canadian, Professor Zhao Yuezhi developed profound friendship with WHU because of our conference. When her ‘Chimerica’ research met ‘Chinafrique’ of Prof.Hutier and made collision of the sparks of thought, she said excitedly:” Your conference is invaluable, I can always find someone to talk with.” The same words were also said in 2005 when I sat in the campus of picturesque Simon Fraser University and asked Prof.Zhao questions about Political Economy of Communication.

Due to more than ten years’ concentration on intercultural communication research observing free, open and pluralistic academic discourse principles, Wuhan University has gradually built up an academic platform for world-class intercultural communication and inclusive diversified academic interaction principles, thus built academic reputation and figure. It’s academic thoughts that attract scholars to come together and it’s not only the achievement of WHU, but also the achievement of intercultural academic research.

Mutual construction: the responsibility and creativity of intercultural communication

As historical phenomenon based on the need of material life and spiritual dialogue, intercultural communication is aimed at cultural fusion and finally reach the top harmony value. Supported by this value, scholars are concentrated on cultural diversity, cultural and power, cultural identity, cultural conflict and cultural ethic etc., whereas sophisticated theoretical problems and real challenges arouse the anxiety and vigilance of scholars. For example, arrogance and prejudice led by modernity, globalization becoming the implosion of American culture, culture hegemony, the fight for global citizenship, new international cultural division, cultural diversity regarded as power relationship and Political Economy of Intercultural Communication etc. These endless social issues promote intercultural communication research greatly.

Therefore, our goal for this conference is not just stay on interaction, it calls more for academic identification beneath inter subjectivity discourse structure in order to realize mutual construction. Based on the cognition of human diversity and creativity, the themes of ICIC over the past ten years include: the mass media, understanding and comprehension of eastern and western culture, medias in intercultural communication, intercultural interaction, media ethics and journalistic professionalism, cultural conflicts and intercultural communication. In 2015, our theme is Ethnic communication, National Image and Intercultural Communication. The establishment of international community of intercultural academic research give researchers all over the world opportunities to exchange ideas. They respect each other and also change with each other. This mutual construction promotes the publication of series researching books. These books include New theory of Intercultural Communication, the problems and possibilities of Intercultural Communication, the turn of Intercultural Communication in Journalism and Communication, the Intercultural Communication of France and China,  Phantom In the Intercultural Communication in Global Media, the Ethic Problems of Intercultural Communication.

Prof.Hotier had written in the preface of France-China Intercultural Communication: " WHU’s Conference is a bridge, forming the characteristics of France-China academic scholar interaction" Prof.Hotier is full of emotion towards WHU ICIC. He attended conferences 7 times constantly as one of the founders.In 2013, he contributed to make the visit for the French consulate general of French Consulate in Wuhan to WHU conference. For me, Prof.Hotier is not a rigorous scholar but also an gentle elder. The hug when we meet annually is so genuine.

Prof.Clifford G. Christians is an internationally reputed and renowned expert in media ethics, teach at School of Media, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn in the United States. I’ve attended his class during the period of working in the United States in 2008.I was impressed by his philosophical thoughts and ethical criticism. At the beginning of 2013,Prof.Christians visited Wuhan University and had a deep discussion about the issues that media was facing with ethic and morality in cross-cultural era with Prof.Shanbo. The conversation happened in Luojia Hill not only attracted Prof.Christians to attend the conference at Wuhan University in 2013 and pushed him to teach The New direction of  Communication Ethics at wuhan University again in 2014 ,but also inspired him to invite Prof.Shanbo to co-edit Ethical Issues of Cross-cultural Communication with him. This conversation became a much-told story between Chinese and American cross-cultural researchers. He has said humorously:’ The Chinese scholars that can interact communication ethic’s research with me may be in Wuhan University.’

Originated from scholars’ ability and morality that transcend the reality freely, mutual construction can be achieved. ”Dialogue needs distinguishing solidarity and clear cognition about cultural difference and superposition.”(Prof.Xu Kaibing,2011) On the one hand, this academic sobriety comes from continuous correction of self and other. As the book written, we should think the prerequisite and foundation of intercultural communication from the view of human diversity and multicultural communicational ethic. On the other hand, scientific research methodology is also needed in order to realize ‘the balance between ideal level and reality‘. Ten-year-old intercultural communication dialogue and Mutual construction makes worldwide scholars leave their introspection and preciseness at Luojia Hill.

In the winter of 2013, as members of Intercultural Communication Innovation Research Team, vice-professor Liu Jiali (from Whu School of Foreign Languages and Literature) and I talked with Prof. John Berry, the founder of Cultural Adaptation. He thought globalization and improvement of information digitization resulted in more complexity in intercultural communication. ”Globalization is process, not a terminus. It stimulates interaction and also complexity. From the view of intercultural adaptation, I think people will become more homogenization—the only thing someone think globalization may bring. However, I disagree with them, globalization also has counterforce—localization. People will become more self-conscious by resisting foreign cultures.” It has been proved that digital technique makes intercultural communication research face total new landscape. The mutual penetration and diffusion interweave wonderful and confusing intercultural picture together.(XIAO Jun,2015)Worldwide scholars need struggle together and get over estrangement and hurt. 

Thanks for those help this book’s publication. In the process of revising the translation, Prof.Li Jiali and Xiao Jingcao took part in and solved many problems for us. In the process of editing, Mr.Zhu Debing found academic values as a publisher, Mrs.Liu Juan helped to promote the quality. This book has flaws ,doubtless, we will take responsibility of it.

Surge and mutual construction based on dialogue are marks and memory of the internationalization in Whu intercultural communication research, also motivation of our academic path. We try to stand on others’ positions, thinking the possibility of spiritual dialogue, pursuing the harmony homeland for human. For us, academic researchers on intercultural communication, these years are joyful and hopeful. Where will we go after ten years? I think, we will break from egotism culture and interpret the interaction with other in a perceptual comprehensive and rational thinking. Thus, we can step into the free field of spiritual dialogue. The meaning of this book may more reflect on attracting and fostering peers.

Written in Luojia Hill, Cherry Avenue

July 2015



[1] Chen, Guo-Ming. “The Problems and Possibilities in Intercultural Communication”, Chinese Journal of Communication, 2011, Vol. 4, No. 3. Pp. 365-368.

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