WCIUjournal
Copy of CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

Cross-Cultural Communication

What difficulties in communication do cross-cultural workers face? How can these best be addressed in various settings?

Posts tagged Africa
Materiality and “Spirits”: Explaining Exorcism in Africa

by Jim Harries

A case study considering the use of the term “spirit” in Western English (that is misappropriated into African discourse) graphically illustrates errors being made when considering deliverance ministries in African Christian churches. There is an urgent need to overcome linguistic naivety and secular hegemony in this regard. Careful exploration of the literature on gift-giving, in light of African people’s affinity for ministries of exorcism, reveals the means by which “material” and “spiritual” are, in Africa, not mutually exclusive.

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Negotiating Conflict: A Case Study Utilizing Face-Negotiation Theory in a Senegalese Context

by Brett Molter

Navigating conflict in light of varying intercultural communication experiences is a learned skill and looks very different depending upon the context in which it is manifested. A growing body of research has emerged concerning how individuals manage and negotiate conflict, including face-negotiation theory (“saving face”) to help explain and work through interpersonal conflicts.

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The Reply of African Ethnicist-nationalism to the Overwhelming Mega-culture of Globalization

by Adder Abel Gwoda, Ph. D.

From a cultural point of view, a universal uniformity is emerging which absorbs or dissolves any differences. Under the booster of neoliberal economics, globalization attempts to homogenize different identities following the Western model, resulting in tremendous reactions from endangered cultures. These reactions of identities are of two kinds: the zealot, which is belligerent and can turn into terrorism and the Herodian, which is essentially pacifist and adaptive. A phenomenological analysis of authentic African cultural experience presents an ethnicist acculturation attempt in a bid to diminish the mega-culture of Globalization. This identity reaction which is rather adaptive, known as ethnicist-nationalism, will appear as a valuable contribution to the global justice project in so far as it provides a cosmopolitan flexible citizenship, built out of the postures of sentimental-nationalism and instrumental-globalization.

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Opinion: Writing-Illiteracy amongst Pastors in East Africa

by Jim Harries

When a European language is used in East Africa for making decisions and setting courses of action, the ability to communicate in that language will be hampered by its rootage in non-indigenous contexts. The author suggests this is severely limiting to healthy indigenously-rooted growth of African Christianity.

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Evaluating Hiebert’s Hunch - Is Lack of Phenomenological Knowledge the Weakest Link in “Critical Contextualization”?:  the Case of the Mende People of Sierra Leone, West Africa

by Dave Datema

Paul Hiebert championed “critical contextualization” and identified phenomenology (“exegeting humans”) as the weakest link in its practice that often led to split-level Christianity. In this paper I evaluate this assessment by locating the practice of critical contextualization among the Mende people of Sierra Leone, West Africa. I show how split-level Christianity took place there historically, examine phenomenological data to better understand Mende culture and ponder contemporary attempts of critical contextualization in Sierra Leone by Sierra Leoneans - all to support my thesis that critical contextualization is not so much a knowledge problem as it is a control problem. Cross-cultural missionaries will never have enough local knowledge to be the best contextualizers and until real control of contextualization is relinquished and given to nationals, critical contextualization will remain as a good idea rarely accomplished.

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Material Things in the Context of Relationships in the Non-Western World, Especially Africa.

by Jim Harries

Western thinking, shaped by years of compulsory education dominated by “Western dualism,” is preconditioned to view material reality as superior to spiritual, secondary understandings. Globalized education carries this materialistic approach far beyond the geographical boundaries of European peoples and their descendants’ “homelands” (i.e. North and South America, Australia, and so on). This thinking explains the nature of physical reality following “laws” of chemistry, physics, geography, maths, and to a lesser extent biology, history, physical education, business studies, and so on. The acceptability of infiltration of these concepts by individuals and communal societies does, however, differ according to levels of receptivity by the peoples concerned.

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Cognitive Science Points to God

By Jim Harries

Interpretation of use of the ladder symbol, then other examples, show how cognitive science aligns with theological analyses. Cognitive science and theology both claim a legitimate basis for approaching the material world through the human body and mind. Cognitive science, by following ‘correct’ understandings of God’s nature, undermines notions that objectivity formed the basis for the development of science. Western people’s extra-rational determination to hang-on to intellectually defunct Cartesian dualism explains much contemporary theological confusion. Global English use, and active countering of racism, undergird defunct philosophies in the West. Christian theology promotes human well-being. Image schemas designing user-interfaces demonstrate God’s obscurity.

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Book Review: African Heartbeat

by Editor

In his novel, African Heartbeat and a Vulnerable Fool, Jim Harries gives the Western reader an opportunity to vicariously experience an immersion in African culture with all its confusing reality. It is based on true stories and events, and takes place in the fictional African country of Holima.This book would be a good resource for prospective cross-cultural workers to help them be aware of what they are “going to meet up with” (p. 165).

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Resolving Western Hegemony in Africa: Distinguishing the Material from the Spiritual/Relational

by Jim Harries

Dominant Western engagement in Africa wrongly presupposes African people to be dualistic. This misleads Westerners to believe Africans should be able to accept and build on secular approaches to solving their society’s problems. The result is confusion and unhealthy dependency on the West. To benefit tomorrow’s Africa, a genuine holistic witness to Jesus, and the positive development possible as people within societies follow Jesus, must use local categories and languages.

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Interpreters and Champions as “Inside” Agents

by Jim Harries

As a champion for the Luo people, I am aware of sensitive information that outside speakers are not able to know about. To Interpret or Not to Interpret African Customs to Westerners? Sometimes I agonise over what to say or not say. Sometimes I am with other Westerners in African contexts. Should I tell other Westerners when they do things wrong? Are there even wrong ways of doing things? Why should I care whether they say or do silly things? Who am I to speak to them?

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