Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

Article on “hyphenated” labels for ethnic groups

Posted by thuicc on August 27, 2008

Saw this article via H-USA, an e-mail list I’m a member of:

Does the institutionalized usage of hyphenated-nationalities help, hurt, or distract a country from more pertinent issues?

America is a country of immigrants.

One side of the American street prides itself on not seeing the person as a combination of ancestral ethnicities but, instead, each individual becomes a culmination of their life experiences.

The other side of the American street takes pride in the achievements of their ancestors and believe their ancestor’s struggles, sacrifices and oppressions are intrinsic to who they are and how America treats/sees them.

This boulevard of contrasting views pervades most aspects of American social laws and policies. Almost every social issue faced by our judicial and/or legislative bodies, on national, state and local levels, have an ethnic/racial purpose or impact and we spend inordinate amounts of time debating, protesting, defending, and balancing these facets.

There is the beginnings of a new movement within our country to re-think the use of ethnic qualifiers to the American nationality. African-American, Hispanic-American, or
your-ethnicity-goes-here-DASH-American is of questionable benefit to the nation’s social fabric and, debatably of course, does more harm to national unity than good.  This same debate was part of the nation’s conversation at the turn of the 20th century when it was the German-Americans, Irish-Americans, and Polish-Americans that qualified their nationality.

In many aspects, where America goes, so goes the world.  Before any other country steps into this pit of social identities, there are some questions the people of that country should ponder:

  1. Are institutionalized hyphenated-nationalities  good for a country’s unity and socio-mentality or is it an institutionalized contradiction to the term “nationality”?
  2. Can you belong to more than one country and, if so, what happens when the two countries have conflicting policies?
  3. Can you maintain the cultures and customs of your ancestral homelands while still assimilating fully into your birth country?
  4. Does the use of hyphenated-nationalities proclaim an aversion to the idea of assimilation?
  5. Is the use of the hyphenated qualification a two edged sword that cuts both ways?  In other words, can you expect your country to treat you different because of your hyphenation but treat you the same despite your hyphenation?

What are the ideas of migration researchers in these points? What influence does the use of hyphenated labels by migration researchers have?

William Myrick Thomas

What do you think? Is the author addressing an important point? Check out the website and see what you think. (Note: I don’t necessarily agree with him myself…)

Posted in cultural classifications, identity, immigration, race, United States, websites | 2 Comments »

Wikipedia project: Taiwanese localization movement

Posted by sydneylee on December 7, 2006

Due to the strong national power of Mainland China, Taiwan has been struggling to find its place in international society. For most foreigners, sometimes it is hard to distinguish Mainland China and Taiwan on culture, art and so on. That is why the Taiwanese government tries to develop the localization movement.

The article “Taiwanese localization movement” is divided into four sections: effect, history, suppose and dispute. At the very beginning, the article explains that in order not to be regarded as a part of China, the movement highlights the distinguishing characteristics of Taiwanese culture. It should be glad to see that Taiwanese government has put their effort to advance the local culture, whereas it is sad to know the movement has become a political trick which is played to win their elections in recent years.

Except, the article points out that the movement is mainly developed in three ways: rewriting textbooks to emphasize the history of Taiwan and tried not to put too much issues about the national identity problem between china and Taiwan, promoting the language and culture of aboriginal and Hakka through media, changing the names of some companies and organizations from “China” into “Taiwan.” However, it fails to contain the controversial part that each elementary school student is required to be taught Taiwanese which is a spoken language and the writing system had lost, thus causes many complains from schools and students. Yet, in my opinion, it is not wise to practice “the Campaign for the Correction of Names”. Because most of Taiwanese cultures and arts are developed from China, it means nothing even though the word “China” has been taken off from the title.

The article illustrates that the local identity of Taiwan had kept ignored by the Imperial Japanese government and the Kuomintang, but now the localization movement is highly valued after the governing of President Lee Teng-hui.

Moreover, according to the article, the movement earns the support from the two major political parties and PRC. However, there are some arguments between “three main political groups”, the article mentions, about whether Taiwan should create its own identity in order to separate from Mainland China or not. However, the process has been played as a dangerous movement; for some politicians are intend to lead people to think that we should drive anything related to China out of Taiwan, including those who came from China but stay in Taiwan now. It becomes a line which is hard to across between Taiwanese and Chinese. Besides, for instance, how do you define a literature, which is written by a Taiwanese yet is accomplished under the governing of Japanese government, as Japanese literature or Taiwanese literature? This article can add more information about what the movement influence Taiwan.

On the discussion part, one guy mentioned that the issue of localization movement “ is not a divisive issue on Taiwan”, and it also the support from major political parties. I agree with that. Since Taiwanese already has a strong conscious of nation identity, there is no political party want to lose their supporter for against the movement. Others say that “The Taiwanese localization movement really has nothing to do with the political status of Taiwan (now, it did in the 1970’s). It’s more of a question of local cultural identity”. In some part, people have more interested to find out what the root of Taiwanese art, literature, culture is. Yet, in other part, the movement is still effected by politic. They try to put the label on culture, art, and people about what is from Taiwan and what is not.

Posted in identity, Taiwan, Wikipedia project | Comments Off on Wikipedia project: Taiwanese localization movement

Article about American culture

Posted by thuicc on October 12, 2006

A recent (well, not that recent) article on American Exceptionalism (the idea that the US is different in significant ways from other countries) appeared in Inside Higher Ed. In the article, the author interviews Eric Rauchway, a history professor in the US. Rauchway has written a book titled Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America.

Posted in identity, United States, websites | Comments Off on Article about American culture

What I want you to think about for next week

Posted by thuicc on September 29, 2006

Yesterday we ended up the class by identifying some of the cocultures we find in Taiwan and some of the stereotypes the dominant culture has about these cocultures. For next week, I’d like you to think about how the cultures/cocultures you belong to affect your communication with people from other cocultures.

For instance, I mentioned that you’re all English majors in Taiwan, and you’ve been trained to write and speak in particular styles of academic English. Can you think of any examples of how your membership in this coculture might have affected your communication style and your communication with people who are not English majors? (You’re welcome to respond on this blog, also.)

Posted in assignments, cultural patterns, identity | 4 Comments »

Appropriating cultures

Posted by thuicc on March 8, 2006

There’s an interesting entry at TheThink about “racial ownership“–by which the writer, Phillip Moore, is describing how certain ethnic groups seem to consider aspects of their culture as their own exclusive property and are offended by or ridicule anyone from other ethnic groups who try to borrow or adapt those cultural aspects. For example, Moore asks:

Just because I am black, should I ridicule Japanese society for adopting hip-hop and putting their own spin on it, even when most of the Japanese who are die hard hip-hop fans know absolutely nil about the true origins of hip-hop, which date back to Afrika Bambaataa and The Last Poets in the 70s? Should I make fun of them for wearing their clothing in a seemingly awkward style, in what would seem a desperate attempt to mimic the flawless hip-hop styles of African-Americans? Should I trash the term “J Rap” as a term for nothing more than Japanese wannabes?

He also criticizes Asian Americans (in particular, Asian Americans whose ancestors came from East Asia) who make fun of people from other ethnic groups who get tattoos with Chinese/Japanese/Korean characters on them. He implies that such people (or, on the other hand, African-Americans who make fun of Japanese [or Vietnamese or Chinese] rap) are often being hypocritical.

What do you think?

(Via Mixed Media Watch, where they’re discussing the post, also)

Posted in identity, media, race, websites | Comments Off on Appropriating cultures

An online discussion about what to call professors you don’t know

Posted by thuicc on March 2, 2006

Earlier in the semester the ICC class read an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education about what professors at different schools in the U.S. like to be called. Now there’s a similar kind of discussion here at the Crooked Timber blog. Professor (Dr.) Eszter Hargittai starts with this question:

On occasion, I get emails in which people address me as Mrs. Hargittai. I’m not suggesting that people need know my personal history or preferences. However, if you are going to contact someone in a professional context and they have a Ph.D. and they teach at a university (both of which are very clear on their homepage where you probably got their email address in the first place), wouldn’t you opt for Dr. or Professor?

There are quite a lot of interesting responses in the comments section, so don’t ignore them.

Posted in greetings, identity, politeness, United States | Comments Off on An online discussion about what to call professors you don’t know

Interview with Ang Lee about Brokeback Mountain

Posted by thuicc on March 1, 2006

I came across this interview with Ang Lee today (though the interview itself is from December). It’s from In the interview, Lee has some interesting comments about what he views as similarities between cowboys and Asians:

I see the themes of repression in Brokeback Mountain as being universal regardless of culture. However, it is true that Eastern culture and the nature of cowboys share a certain indirectness, quiet nature, and use of body language to communicate that are quite similar. There are similarities in the art of the two cultures as well–they both emphasize feelings of sadness, melancholy, and expansive space through various media.The difference is that Western culture is more macho, whereas Eastern culture is–more lunar and feminine in nature. Thus, when it comes to attitudes about homosexuality, my personal theory is that Eastern culture is more relaxed than in the West. This stems from a difference in why a culture perceives homosexuality to be wrong–in Western culture, it stems from religion, and you are condemned if you are gay. Eastern culture seems more, flexible–and being gay is more of a social issue than a religious one; there is no deity to offend. The West also seems to tolerate lesbians more than gays because it’s a very macho culture; homosexuality is not okay because it threatens this culture. Of course, this is my observation in general–I am sure that there are happy gay ranch hands in Wyoming with very sensitive neighbors as well.

Interesting perspectives. What do you think?

Posted in Asia, identity, media, movies | Comments Off on Interview with Ang Lee about Brokeback Mountain

Lecture by Dr. Shirley Geok-lin Lim on Dec. 2

Posted by thuicc on November 26, 2005

I hope people in our class will take the opportunity to attend this lecture on Dec. 2.

Lecture by Professor Shirley Geok-lin Lim:

“Memoirs and Misfits: The Eaton Sisters and Life Writing”

Friday, December 2

Born in 1865 to a Chinese mother and English father, Edith Eaton became an energetic champion of Chinese immigrants in Canada and the U.S. Under the Chinese penname “Sui Sin Far” she wrote touching, realistic tales about the difficult lives of “her mother’s people” in the New World. Her younger sister Winifred also was a writer, but she used the penname “Onoto Watanna,” had her photo taken while wearing a Japanese kimono, and wrote novels with titles like The Japanese Nightingale. Why did these two sisters make such different choices? How did they shape their identities through writing? What is the meaning of their widely different personas and styles in their time, and in ours?

林教授現 任加州大學聖塔芭芭拉分校女性研究及英文系專任教授,專長領域為華美文學、後殖民論述、種族與女性主義文化書寫,並曾執教於新加坡與香港。其身兼學者、詩 人、小說家等多重身份,已出版作品包括詩、小說、評論及回憶錄。她在女性主義出版社一再請求下,於五十歲生日時完成她的回憶錄《月白的臉:一位亞裔美國人 的家園回憶錄》,本書並贏得一九九六年美國書卷獎。

Sponsored by the NSC and Tunghai University FLLD

Posted in identity, speeches, writing | Comments Off on Lecture by Dr. Shirley Geok-lin Lim on Dec. 2

Two “fun” sites related to culture and identity

Posted by thuicc on October 24, 2005

I came across two websites recently that are sort of related to culture and identity. The first site is You can go to this site and take a “geographic personality test“. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to tell you, except that they claim to be able to tell you what geographic location (city) would best suit your personality. Well, try it, but don’t take it too seriously.

The other website is called “ALL LOOK SAME“. At the top of the page is a “quiz” to take–it shows you pictures of different East Asian people (ordinary Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese) and asks you to identify their nationality based on their picture. See if you can get a good score on this. (I only identified 7 correctly out of 18.) Of course, someone could do the same with Euro-Americans and Europeans, I imagine. I don’t think I’d be able to tell a German from an Italian just by looking at a face. So…

Posted in Asia, identity, United States, websites | 4 Comments »

Identity: self-ascribed vs. ascribed

Posted by thuicc on October 13, 2005

Here’s a link to Jane Pizzolato’s website where she discusses the contrasts between how she identifies herself and her ascribed identity. (More on this later…)

Posted in identity, websites | Comments Off on Identity: self-ascribed vs. ascribed