Contextualising interculturality: challenges & perspectives

Panel convenor:

Dr Svetlana Kurteš (University of Madeira, Portugal)


The panel is organised by the European Network for Intercultural Education Activities (ENIEDA), a collaborative academic network exploring innovative initiatives that promote the values of plurilingualism, democratic citizenship and intercultural cooperation. Not restricting our activities geographically and geo-politically, we are committed to setting up exploratory dialogue within, across and beyond regional, cultural and disciplinary boundaries and fostering best practice in networking within and beyond academia.

The panellists will, therefore, engage in a cross-disciplinary dialogue exploring a range of topics dealing with aspects of interculturality and its multifaceted manifestations in daily interaction, mediated or otherwise. More specifically, our intention is to contextualise the notion by looking into current challenges that interculturality faces both at societal and individual levels. We intend to deconstruct its ideological embeddedness, identify its discursive manifestations, multimodal frameworks and semiotic resources. These insights will help us define and further elaborate on its future perspectives, primarily (but not exclusively) in the context of pedagogical applications and practical implications.

The panel features seven presentations, some of which are co-authored. The presentations address two broadly defined thematic clusters, identifying current challenges and suggesting perspectives for future development. The panellists and their contributions are the following:


1. Dr Jagoda Granić, University of Split, Croatia

   Context-dependent pragmatic norm: a culture as an excuse

The introductory panel presentation revisits some key theoretical considerations, maintaining that the pragmatic norm belongs to the specific features of a civilization and culture, and is very much a contextual norm, since the choice of a communicative strategy directly depends on every element of the communicative context. The panellist will elaborate further on the issue and contextualise it by giving relevant examples. Special attention will be given to ethical regulation and its pragmatic norms that differs from society to society and from one synchrony to another.


2. Dr Vladimir Žegarac, University of Bedfordshire, UK

    Joy Caley, English Language Centre, York, UK

You may call it a lie, I 'll call it a tactic.                                                                                                                

 (Prince Al Waleed bin Talal [responding to an attorney in the High Court in London])

The panellists argue that the distinction between ‘honour’-‘shame’ societies and ‘right’-‘wrong’ societies is plausible and important, but that it falls short of providing the basis for explaining the ways societies regulate departures from sincerity (i.e. truthfulness and co-operativeness) in social interaction. Their argument is supported and illustrated by examples of communication situations of intra- and inter-cultural communication between members of Middle Eastern and Western cultures. 

3. Professor Tatiana Larina, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Russia

 In Russia ''manners don't  seem to have been invented'':        

 (Im)politeness in cross-cultural contexts or a response to Jeremy Clarckson

Provoked by the column by Jeremy Clarkson “As Russians say, manners maketh the British late” (The Sunday Times, 3 March 2013), the panelist will demonstrate how the lack of adequate understanding of cultural differences could lead to communicative breakdowns and negative stereotyping. She will summarise the current dialogue in politeness studies, focusing on the dynamics between universality vs. culture specificity of politeness in interactional pragmatics (Besemeres and Wierzbicka 2007; Kecskes 2014; Larina 2015; Leech 2014; Visson 2013, etc). Special attention will be given to the notion of communicative ethno-styles (Larina 2015), which the panelist will elaborate on and illustrate with appropriate examples. The issue will be problematised in reference to modern education and education policy, suggesting further approaches to research in development in intercultural studies.   

4. Dr Igor Lakić, University of Montenegro, Montenegro

     More on the macrostructure in the news discourse: British and Montenegrin dailies

The presentation revisits the concept of macrostructure in the news discourse. More specifically, it deals with Evaluation and its linguistic exponents on the macrostructure level. Evaluation will be discussed in terms of its explicit presence in the text, as a distinctive unit in the schematic structure of news, but also in its implicit form, very often hidden behind other parts of macrostructure. The data will be taken from a corpus comprising examples from British and Montenegrin dailies reporting on the NATO airstrikes against the former Yugoslavia in 1999.


5. Dr Noémie Hermeking, Munich School of Philosophy, Germany

     ''Refugees welcome!" Challenges and opportunities for volunteers welcoming the newly arrived refugees

Munich has been the main port of entry for asylum seekers arriving in Germany via Austria and Italy in 2015. Up until recently, parts of the central train station were used as a place for registration, a quick medical check, and handling out food and clothes to the arriving refugees. Part of this job was done and is still done at other locations in Munich with the help of volunteer workers. The presentation will offer an insight into various volunteer organizations and the challenges helpers might face while trying to accommodate some of the most immediate needs of the refugees. More concretely, the panellist will elaborate on the issues such as: what kind of intercultural misunderstanding can arise when these different cultural backgrounds come together; what kind of intercultural training and support would the volunteer community find useful in their daily activities.


6. Dr Monika Kopytowska, University of Łódź, Poland

    Dr Fabienne Baider, University of Cyprus, Cyprus

    The pragmatic mechanisms of Othering: a comparative study of anti-refugee online discourse in Europe

The objective behind the presentation is to identify and classify the pragmatic mechanisms of Othering in online media discourse in the context of refugee crisis in Europe in 2015-2016. Drawing on the insights from Searle’s theory of social ontology (1995, etc), the panellists will report on relevant segments of a larger Europe-based project, focusing on hate speech/ hate crime in a number of European countries.  They will put an emphasis on online articles and comments collected from electronic portal in several European countries and analyse them comparatively. The analysis will enable the identification of both universal mechanisms and culture-specific patterns, offering possible new insights into the motivations behind hate speech, its dialectics with identity, and its performative character.


7. Dr Svetlana Kurteš, University of Madeira, Portugal

    The educational context of interculturality: postmethod perspectives

The concluding presentation contextualises the concept of interculturality further, exploring its educational and curricular perspectives in the postmethod era (Kumaravadivelu, 2001). A possible instructional model will be presented and discussed, highlighting its adaptability to a variety of (didactic) contexts. The model was initially piloted during the delivery and assessment of a module designed for international students attending a UK-based university and then developed further to suit the requirements of a degree-level course in professional communication offered by a university in Portugal.


The panel will conclude with a discussion moderated by the panel convenor, critically evaluating the main points raised and suggesting further avenues for research and development in the area. Time allowing, members of the audience will be invited to take part in the discussion as well.


Indicative references

Besemeres, M. & A. Wierzbicka (eds.) (2007). Translating lives: living with two languages and cultures. Australia: University of Queensland Press.

Baron, N. S. (1998). Letters by phone or speech by other means: The linguistics of email. Language and Communication: 18: 133-170.

Gelber, K. (2002). Speaking back: the free speech versus hate speech debate. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Fairclough, N. & R. Wodak (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In van Dijk, Teun (ed.). Discourse  as  social  interaction. London: Sage; 14-31.

Kalyango, Y., Jr. & M. Kopytowska (eds.) (2014). Why discourse matters: negotiating identity in the mediatised world. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Kecskes, I. (2014). Intercultural pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kramer-Moore, D., & M. Moore (2003). Pardon me for breathing: seven types of apology. Etc.: 60(2): 160-169.

Kress, G. & T. Van Leeuwen (2001). Multimodal discourse: the modes & media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2001). Towards a postmethod pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly: 35 (4): 537-560.

Kurteš, S. & M. Kopytowska (eds.). (2015). Communicative styles and genres: between universality and culture-specificity. Special Issue of International Review of Pragmatics 7.2.

Leech, G. (2014). The pragmatics of politeness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Larina, T. (2015). Culture-specific communicative styles as a framework for interpreting linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasies. Special Issue of International Review of Pragmatics 7.2: 195-215.

Marlowe, B. & M. L. Page (2005). Creating and sustaining the constructivist classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Pauwels, L. (2005). Websites as visual and multimodal cultural expressions: opportunities and issues of online hybrid media research. Media, Culture & Society. 27(4): 604-613.

Searle, J. (1995). The construction of social reality. London: The Penguin.

Usher, R. & R. Edwards (1994). Postmodernism in education. London: Routledge.

Visson, L. (2013). Where Russians go wrong in spoken English: words and phrases in the context of two cultures. Moscow: R. Valent.


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