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New winds in intercultural communication — from Macquarie!

6 May, 2012

In the Master of Applied Anthropology course at Macquarie University that inspired us to start this blog, and in the book Seeing Culture Everywhere that later resulted from the course, Joana Breidenbach and I were particularly critical of intercultural communication (IC) both as academic discipline and as industry. We think mainstream IC perpetuates stereotypes and a “container model” of national cultures in a way that is remarkably similar to Huntington’s views on international relations.

We are now writing an entry on IC for the new edition of the International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences. In the process of updating our overview on the field, I was surprised and please to discuver the work of Ingrid Piller, whose take on mainstream IC is very similar to ours, but whose critique comes from inside the discipline. She, too advocates a contextual approach and rejects a priori cultural categorizations.

The biggest surprise is that Piller is a professor of linguistics at Macquarie University, in the very department in whose applied linguistics courses one of our students was pressed to demonstrate a “typical Japanese greeting.” We used the incident, which made him very upset, as an example of IC stereotyping in our book.It is clear that Piller is equally critical of such approaches.

It seems that Piller joined Macquarie in 2008, just when I left, but I am surprised we haven’t discovered each other’s websites earlier!

One Comment leave one →
  1. 8 May, 2012 1:13 am

    Prof. Piller is great! If you enjoy her work, you might be interested in participateing in the UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum – they are currently conducting an e-seminar based on Ingrid’s book. For more information, please visit

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