Paradigmatic issues in intercultural communication studies: an Afrocentric-Asiacentric dialogue.
You are one of the founders of the intercultural communication field and one of the African American pioneers in communication research (Anderson, 2012; Jackson & Brown-Givens, 2006, 2008). You studied with Professor Fred L. Casmir at Pepperdine University, wrote a thesis about the rhetoric of Marshall Keeble, and obtained an M.A. in Speech in 1964. In 1968, you earned a Ph.D. in Speech from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where you were later appointed as Associate Professor of Speech and Director of the Afro-American Studies Center (1969-1973). You authored the first book on interracial communication under the previous name of Arthur Lee Smith (1973) (see also Smith, 1970f, 1971b; Rich & Smith, 1970a) and co-edited the first handbook of intercultural communication (Asante, Newmark, & Blake, 1979a). In as early as 1969, you published a seminal book on Black rhetoric (Smith, 1969) and wrote a number of essays on the subject (e.g., Smith, 1970b, 1970c, 1970d, 1971a). You also edited journal special issues and books about Black perspectives on speech communication (Smith, 1970a, 1972; Smith & Robb, 1971). Let me start our dialogue, then, by asking you how you became interested in communication as a discipline, in general, and intercultural communication as a field of study, in particular.
Molefi Kete Asante: Yes, you have given a fairly accurate accounting of my passage to communication. I had majored in Speech Communication at Oklahoma Christian College prior to attending Pepperdine University for the Master's degree. My teacher and graduate mentor at Pepperdine, Fred Casmir, had made an amazing intellectual and political journey himself. He had been a member of Hitler's youth corps in Germany and had migrated to the United States in the 1950s where he eventually earned the doctorate in communication at the Ohio State University. Casmir was interested in persuasion; this was his passion, and he wrote from both research and experience. I had been a student of the sharp critiques of Fred Casmir at Pepperdine as I had been a student of the general orientations to rhetorical study from R. Stafford North at Oklahoma Christian College. At the B.A. and M.A. levels, I concentrated on individual speakers, mainly preachers and politicians; it would be later that I would encounter theories of communication beyond the persuasive modality.
It would be while working on my doctorate in communication that I matured as a reflective thinker in the rhetorical and intercultural field. However, I reached my intellectual goals through the prism of rhetorical studies at the University of California, Los Angeles under the tutelage of Charles Lomas (the author of The Agitator in American Society), Paul Rosenthal (the winner of outstanding essay awards from NCA), Dale Leathers, and others. You might say that I became enamored with the possibility of communication as a discipline to help society resolve issues of race and culture. None of my teachers had any idea about intercultural communication; this field would be something that germinated in the political context of the Black Power Movement, the Free Speech Movement, and the Anti-War (Vietnam) Movement. I saw myself as an activist in all of these movements. Yet the exploration of the tendency toward interracial and intercultural communication was prompted by the intense discussions with my academic colleagues and classmates such as Dennis Ogawa, Andrea Rich, Richard Erickson, Michael Leff, and Marilyn Kourilsky. I think that the work we did in seminars with rhetoricians, the principal dimension at UCLA at the time, was useful for our critical and analytical approach to interracial and intercultural interaction. Although the context for us was protest, agitation, violence, the Vietnam War, the Black Power Movement, the Free Speech Movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the inevitable charges and countercharges of poor communication between cultural groups, the driving dynamic was a search for a useful communication theory. I needed to understand these phenomena, and what I had were the analytical and critical tools I had learned from the rhetoricians. They were the first attendants in my process of discipline appreciation.
As we have seen with the intersections of philosophical constructions in modern discourses, it is necessary to use all of the critical tools in one's possession to evaluate encrypted categories of identity, culture, hegemonic, and counter-hegemonic ideas. Of course, these are not ideas that are unfamiliar to you since you have been keen to expand our understanding of human communication for a long time (see Miike, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007; 2008b, 2010a, 2010b, 2012a, 2012b, 2013; Miike & Yin, in press). I could say that your experience at Dokkyo University prepared you for intercultural communication and the mentorship of Everett Rogers in much the same way my experiences prepared me to examine alternative paths to harmony in intercultural relations. It would be after I published Transracial Communication in 1973 that I would understand the full importance of meditations on the nature of communication among persons who came from different backgrounds. Therefore, I became interested in the field of intercultural communication because of the political context of my times, the intellectual curiosity that comes with breaking open a puzzle about human behavior, and, finally, because of the incredibly enlightened critical mass of students at UCLA at the time I was fortunate to have colleagues who supported the inquiry into race, culture, and identity. No one could have asked for a more perfect convergence of individuals from several cultures, creeds, and social backgrounds to begin the probes into intercultural communication.
Now perhaps you can explain your own transition from intercultural communication to the house of Asiacentricity?
Miike: As you know, I am originally from Japan. I came to the United States for my doctoral work in intercultural communication. In Japan, all students were required to learn English when they entered junior high school. I was attracted to the English language perhaps because it is so different from the Japanese language. English became my favorite subject. I was interested in the linguistic differences and especially in English composition. I enjoyed translating Japanese into English. For some reason, however, I was not inclined to translate English into Japanese. Japan in the 1970s and the 1980s was said to be in the midst of "the age of internationalization" (kokusaika). It was such a time when the Japanese were criticized abroad as "faceless Japanese," or even 3S (smile, silent, and sleep) Japanese, who could not express themselves and explain anything, and when Japan as an "economic superpower" was criticized for not acting as such. "English-language education" (eigo kyoiku) was chastised as "receiver-oriented" for information import, not "sender-oriented" for information export. So, knowingly or unknowingly, my individual consciousness then was a product of these national and international historical trajectories.
I wanted to study contrastive linguistics in graduate school in Japan. But I soon found that the field was devalued due to the popularity of Ferdinand de Saussure's structural linguistics and Noam Chomsky's transformational grammar there. Then, intercultural communication as a new field of study was refreshing and re-energizing. It seemed to have a lot of potentials and prospects as I realized by the time that much more than language was involved in communicating Japaneseness to non-Japanese. While I was a undergraduate student at the Kansai University of Foreign Studies in Osaka, I often visited the offices of Professor Paul Kelley from Massachusetts, who had taught speech communication since 1969 and had been the head of all Kansai Gaidai international faculty members for decades, Professor Nobuhiro Adachi, who is an expert on the pidgin language and history of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i, and Professor Etsuko Nakayama, who specializes in Japanese literature, culture, and communication. Maybe I was feeling the interdisciplinary enjoyment of communication studies that Majid Tehranian (1999) aptly described:
The charm of communication as a field of study and case study as a method lies in their holistic approaches. The world is not neatly divided into the academe's disciplinary boundaries and departments. Public discourse and practice cross these boundaries at random and with no respect for the reductionist methods of social science disciplines. (p. 5)
Clearly, in my mind, there were issues of cultural differences. And yet, as is often the case in international studies (Chin, 2009), they were discussed as if they had not been implicated with power and privilege. "Critical intercultural communication studies" was not even a term at that time. I was not fully aware of the colonial structure of knowledge and power dynamics in "international exchanges." But I knew that there are different ways of knowing and theorizing that I could advance from a native Japanese point of view.
I obtained one of the first M.A.s in Communication Studies under the mentorship of Professor Satoshi Ishii--a pioneering Japanese communication theorist--from Dokkyo University (Japan) and earned a Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication from the University of New Mexico (USA). No professor, however, introduced your work on Afrocentricity in my graduate days. No course in my M.A. and Ph.D. programs included any of your numerous writings in the reading list, although I had conversations about you with the late Professor Everett M. Rogers--a world-class diffusion of innovations scholar (see Asante, Miike, & Yin, 2013 a)--who met you at the International Communication Association (ICA) Board Meeting in Acapulco, Mexico in 1978 and personally knew you. I had self-taught Afrocentricity until I wrote to you after I published my first article on Asiacentric communication scholarship (Miike, 2002) with the help of Professor Guo-Ming Chen at the University of Rhode Island.
I was extremely fortunate to meet Professor Chen at the 86th NCA annual meeting in Seattle, Washington in 2000. He shared a great deal of scholarly interest and passion in building Asian theories of communication and welcomed my premature and half-baked idea of an Asiacentric communication paradigm with his enthusiasm and encouragement. Without his constant support, I might not have pursued my Asiacentric idea this far (see Chen [2010, 2011, 2012, 2013] for his recent theoretical works on Chinese and Asian communication). Dr. William J. Starosta, Founding Editor and Editor Emeritus of the Howard Journal of Communications, Dr. Jensen Chung, the originator of Eastern chi-shih communication theory at San Francisco State University, Dr. James W. Chesebro, NCA Past President (1996), Dr. Robert T. Craig, ICA Past President (2003-2004), Dr. Robert Shuter, Past Chair (2010-2011) of the NCA's International and Intercultural Communication Division, and Dr. Janet M. Cramer, Associate Provost at Florida Atlantic University, have also been very supportive and afforded me various opportunities to get my Asiacentric voice heard.
Of all the books and articles that I read during my graduate training, The Afrocentric Idea (Asante, 1998c) had the greatest impact on my thinking. I quickly connected what I had in mind to your "centric" perspective. Your conceptualization of "hierarchical discourse" made a lot of sense to me. Then, I noticed that you cited "Asiacentrism and Asian American Studies" by Paul Wong, Meera Manvi, Takeo Hirota Wong (1995), which I read and reread many times and discussed with Professor Jing Yin from China (see Yin  for her Asiacentric feminist communication theory). I came to name my proposed paradigm "Asiacentric" and completed my doctoral dissertation entitled The Asiacentric Idea: Theoretical Legacies and Visions of Eastern Communication Studies (Miike, 2004) under Professor Karen A. Foss, one of the forerunners in Eurocentric feminist rhetorical theory.
Okafor (2010) observed that Afrocentricity is "one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented ideas of the 20th century" (p. 11). Critics are quick to castigate your Afrocentric idea without careful study and reading. But no scholar develops a new paradigm in a vacuum. You have drawn on the knowledge trove of many intellectual predecessors of African heritage to formulate your Afrocentric metatheory (see Asante, 1990b, 1993a, 1998c, 2003a, 2005, 2007a). So let me ask you some fundamental questions. What is Afrocentricity? Why is Afrocentricity important? How did you come to name your theory Afrocentricity? Whose work influenced the development of your Afrocentric paradigm? How do you see the relationship among power, knowledge, and intercultural communication?
Asante: I believe that your career path is a towering representation of Tehranian's "charm of communication" because you have come to your theoretical positions from a convergence of interests and disciplines. This is the future of communication studies. Now you have asked me what is Afrocentricity. First, it is a pursuit of agency that includes philosophical and cultural space. Secondly, Afrocentricity is a critique of domination and hegemony. Thirdly, Afrocentricity is a necessary corrective in the historical corpus of the field of communication. The impact of intercultural relations on communication and vice versa must be viewed as revelatory. What is revealed, shown in the clearest light, is the hegemonic position of a Eurocentric culture that parade as universal. The Afrocentric moment was not a critique of European thoughts, philosophies, myths, and cultures as European but a critique of European ideas as a part of cultural domination. The abrasive character of domination operates in communication as metaphor, argument, context, and process. Afrocentricity seeks to pursue what has been shoved to the side in the movement of Europe's particularism as universal. Thus, Afrocenticity is a corrective, but it is not the only corrective to Europe's overreach. This is where Asiacentricity, Latinocentricity, and other centered perspectives have their places at the communication table. Let me put it in this way. We do not live in a one-dimensional Eurocentric world although most communication theorists and practitioners in the West assume that that dimension is the only one worth exploring. Our world is multidimensional, and our aim as communication scholars must be the abundance of possibilities rather than the scarcity of a single cultural perspective of reality.
I chose the term Afrocentricity to emphasize the fact that African people had been moved off of terms for the past five hundred years. In other words, Africans were not simply removed from Africa to the Americas, but Africans were separated from philosophies, languages, religions, myths, and cultures. Separations are violent and are often accompanied with numerous changes in individuals and groups. Finding a way to relocate or to reorient our thinking was essential to the presentation of African cultural reality. In fact, without such a reorientation, Africans have nothing to bring to the table of humanity but the experiences of Europeans, those who initially moved Africans off of social, cultural, and psychological terms. Of course, I accept your understanding when you write that to speak of center is not to speak of "one cultural center diametrically opposed to another" (Miike, 2012a, 2013). You are quite right in this line of reasoning as it makes sense to those who accept the humanity of all people. No one person or group can claim superiority over others in the process of being human. Therefore, when it comes to language and communication, we must all bring our gifts to the same table.
Now this brings me to the question of influences. Of course, we are influenced from two streams: those who impact us negatively and those who impact us positively. The first instance is almost as strong as the second because when one encounters thoughts, ideas, and concepts that cause us to reconsider our intellectual paths and to question the theories and methods of our previous positions. There are other influences that bring us to the point of theoretical exhilaration because we are transported to new areas of thought. I have experienced both streams and have tried to swim both against and with the currents. I was influenced by the narrow thinking of early rhetoricians who had no idea that there were traditions of speaking and persuading in other societies, some long before the appearance of the Greek records of Corax and Tisias. This pushed me to explore my own classical roots in the Nile Valley Civilizations of Africa, and that is where I first met Khunanup, the Eloquent Farmer, who made his case against the rich man (see Asante, 1986, 1990b, 2010, 2012, 2013).
What this told me, among other incidents of eloquence, was that there was a tradition in Africa older than that of Greece. I imagined that such a tradition must have happened in another African culture, Nubia, as well. Certainly one had to examine Persian, Chinese, and Indians civilizations for what they had to teach us. However, the positive influences started with the work of my contemporary Maulana Karenga who argued that the key crisis in the Black community was a cultural crisis (see Asante, 2009c). This was a powerful statement that had a remarkable clearing impact on a generation of African American thinkers. I believe that I was able to examine and explore the nuances of this idea through language, symbols, and behaviors. What had been lost by the enslavement of Africans? What deities, languages, music, art, and sciences? How were we as a people going to redress the wrong that was done to our ancestors? How were we going to re-center ourselves in order to regain and retain sanity? Were not the many examples of nihilism, as expressed by Cornel West (1993), nothing more than the dislocation of a people in psychological, social, economic, and spiritual terms? This has implications for full and abundant communication because, without an appreciation of one's reason for actions, behaviors, and attitudes, it is impossible to be open and honest in human interaction. I guess this is similar to what you have found in the Asian context or is it?
Miike: It should be crystal clear to the reader by now that Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity are not an attack on Eurocentricity--a particularist position and a legitimate culture-centric approach to cultural Europe and people of European decent--but a critique of Eurocentrism--a hegemonic universalist ideology and an ethnocentric approach to non-Western worlds and people of non-Western heritage (Miike, 2010a). But I want to reiterate your point because, no matter how many times we emphasize the distinction between Eurocentricity and Eurocentrism, some uninformed and irresponsible scholars continue to claim that Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity are just Black and Yellow versions of Eurocentrism, and that they are as ethnocentric as Eurocentrism. In some cases, these scholars hysterically perceive Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity as "more dangerous" than Eurocentrism and predict that they will soon replace not only Eurocentrism but also Eurocentricity. Nevertheless, given the highly privileged status of Eurocentric knowledge and its institutional infrastructures all over the world, there is no sign whatsoever that we will only study and learn Afrocentric and Asiacentric knowledge and completely ignore European intellectual traditions in the future. In my opinion, there is no need to worry about the systematic neglect of Eurocentric knowledge in the present-day context of knowledge production and dissemination worldwide.
All Asian nations have extensively experienced the aggression and colonization of Western empires. Recently, Professor S. Lily Mendoza (2006) at Oakland University, who is Chair (2012-2013) of the NCA's International and Intercultural Communication Division, shared her personal and powerful narratives about her own cultural dislocation in the Philippines. China's May Fourth Movement and Japan's Meiji Restoration are examples of self-Westernization at the time of national crisis and survival in Asian countries (see Wang, 2011). So, to a large degree, Asians have also been moved off from their traditional cultures. I think it is important to point out, however, that Westernization in the context of Asia has been advanced under the slogans of "modernization" in the 19th century, "internationalization" in the 20th century, and "globalization" in the 21st century. Therefore, serious confusion exists about something Western and something modern, international, and global. In fact, what is "international" and "global" in the minds of many Asians is neither truly international nor substantially global. It goes without saying that what is "modern" in their imagination designates more than science and technology.
In this sense, the study of the imagined West and how it limits the understanding of both European and non-European worlds is of added importance in Asian intercultural communication research. For, paradoxically, the Asian "international" or "global" mindset simplifies Europe and European America and ignores the rest of the world. Higher education in the social sciences reinforces the Eurocentric mentality because these fields of study in Asia are very (U.S.) Eurocentric and largely import-oriented. As Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1986, 2012) and Professor Yukio Tsuda (2008, 2013) reminded us, furthermore, English-language learning plays a unique role in the nonWestern world. We can never underestimate the impact of English-language teaching on Asians and their international and intercultural understanding. In theory, English can be a lingua franca for speakers of different languages, or even "a language of freedom and liberation" for some learners, and opens a door to the multicultural world and to global information. In practice, nonetheless, English often becomes a powerful mode of mental colonization, affirms racial and cultural hierarchy, and closes a door to the (U.S.) non-European world and to multilingual information (Lummis, 1977). In any case, it is not English but ideas that can change the world.
You mentioned Professor Maulana Kreanga's (1983, 2006, 2013) Kawaida philosophy--"an ongoing synthesis of the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world" (Karenga, 2006, p. 245). You kindly introduced me to him at the 92nd annual meeting of the NCA in San Antonio, Texas in 2006. I have been inspired by his view of "culture as a unique, instructive, and valuable way of being human in the world--as a foundation and framework for self-understanding and self-assertion" (Kreanga, 2006, p. 245). His argument is compelling: "[I]f cultural construction or the reality and value of a people's culture is denied, doubted, or deformed, it poses not only a problem of self-consciousness, but also of self-construction that shapes and determines self-consciousness" (Karenga, 1983, p. 213). He articulated the position that cultural struggle is the beginning of social and political transformation. In this particular connection, let me quote the following passage from your 1998 book, The Afrocentric Idea:
If we have lost anything, it is our cultural centeredness; that is, we have been moved off our own platforms. This means that we cannot truly be ourselves or know our potential since we exist in a borrowed space. But all space is a matter of point of view or interpretation. Our existential relationship to the culture that we have borrowed defines what and who we are at any given moment. By regaining our own platforms, standing in our own cultural spaces, and believing that our way of viewing the universe is just as valid as any, we will achieve the kind of transformation that we need to participate fully in a multicultural society. However, without this kind of centeredness, we bring almost nothing to the multicultural table but a darker version of Whiteness. (p. 8)
Here, and in the previous exchange, I think you are providing us an important context in which we should understand the meaning and significance of cultural agency from the Afrocentric perspective (see also Asante, 2013; Karenga, 1995, 2008, 2012; Tillotson, 2008). To some non-native speakers of English, the concept of agency may be especially difficult to grasp. So I would like to ask you a further clarification. What is agency in an Afrocentric sense? I do not think it refers merely to individual free will, the locus of individual action, and individual self-interest as the word generally connotes. You have discussed the idea of agency in relation to a subject position, a psychological location, human liberation, cultural recovery, and an orientation to data in your past writings. What does it mean to regain agency in the Afrocentric enterprise?
Asante: You are correct in your understanding that agency in an Afrocentric sense is not merely an individual's will to act but an entire paradigm of personal and social transformation that supports collective agency as well. Michael Tillotson (2011) of the University of Pittsburgh has written in his brilliant book, The Invisible Jim Crow, that racial doctrines promote what he has termed "agency reduction formations" that seek to limit the amount of agency expressed not just by individuals but also by groups, communities, and entire cultural collectivities. For example, Tillotson makes the point that ideas such as postmodernism, social construction, colorblindness, and essentialism have been used in various hegemonic sectors of Eurocentric societies to challenge and curtail the idea of collective agency despite the fact that history in the United States and Europe has revealed, over the years, collective disenfranchisement and discrimination. Similarly and earlier, Ama Mazama (2003) argued in The Afrocentric Paradigm that it was necessary to question the assertion of Eurocenric conceptual centeredness. Her position was that it was possible to do this without throwing out the baby with the bathwater since no one is arguing that everything European was bad (see pp. 3-9). Mazama, of course, questions whether or not terms like "postcolonial" or "neocolonial" should be used as historical periods at all. How we must speak out of our own agency remains the central question of Afrocentric thinking. Quite frankly, the tension in intercultural communication remains the same as it does for all intercultural interactions. Communication honors agency; in fact, the field of communication is the most honest when agency bursts forth like flowers blooming in the spring. All forms of oppression, however, whether gender, racial, or cultural oppression diminish the ground of agency; thus to be fully human is to exercise agency.
Okay, I know that the preceding has been a long prologue. Let me get to the point and answer your specific question about regaining agency in the Afrocentric enterprise. European domination of African people through the enslavement and colonization of Africans was what Marimba Ani (1989) calls Maafa meaning a Great Collective Calamity (see also Ani, 1994). This calamity was not simply a physical reality but a psychological and cultural reality as well. This meant that Africans were neither permitted physical freedom nor psychological freedom during a long period of White racial domination. Cultural expression, while resilient, was also limited because, in every case, Africans as a defined discriminated group did not have the freedom to exercise agency. In effect, the Afrocentric adventure has promoted agency as the ultimate measure of full humanity (Asante, 2007a). Agency reduction formations have appeared periodically to curtail the freedom of African people in every sector of the society. Actually racism itself is the principal event in the attempt to deny African people's freedom. Therefore, the response to racism is not the abandonment of agency but rather the claiming of one's agency and, consequently, the re-affirmation of one's humanity. This is what the existentialist Frantz Fanon (1952, 1963) understood about the relationship between the French colonizers and the African and Arab colonized in Algeria. Albert Memmi (1991) found the same response in Tunisia when the French sought to dominate both Jews and Arabs. What the oppressed, the colonized, the so-called subaltern must do is to act individually or collectively with others to demonstrate agency in all of its guises. When this is done, there is no longer a need for subalternity or sub-anything.
Miike: Thank you for this clarification on the Afrocentric concept of agency. From an Asiacentric perspective, I would like to add that blind imitation can be a self-imposed form of "agency reduction." I have argued in my recent essays (Miike, 2012b, 2013) that imitation is not intercultural. One of my international students from Asia wanted to speak "perfect English" and "behave naturally like Americans," but realized that it was difficult to find "real American professors" (i.e., European American professors) in Hawai'i. When he put his arm around my shoulder and asked me, "What's up, Yoshi?," he not only seriously misunderstood U.S. American culture but also prematurely presumed that informality is always better than formality. I was even once corrected in class by another international student from Asia who turned out to be influenced by some ignorant ESL teachers: "Communications, not communication!" Although these Asian students felt that they gained their agency in U.S. classroom contexts, I wondered how this blind-imitation attitude would psychologically affect them and eventually reduce their linguistic and cultural agency in intercultural encounters with "real Americans." Their underlying assumption is that "my English" and "my culture" are never "good enough" whereas "their English" and "their culture" are flawless. Perhaps they never notice that there are still imperialist European Americans in Hawai'i who refuse to even make any attempt to pronounce tsunami and continue to refer to it as "tidal waves."
You raised the point that postmodernism, social construction, colorblindness, and essentialism have sometimes been used to further downplay and diminish the collective agency of marginalized people. Let us turn our discussion to cultural essentialism and strategic essentialism. Cultural essentialism refers to the tendency to regard culture as a timeless and unchanging homogeneous entity and describe culture in a monolithic, totalizing, and ahistorical way. We are cultural essentialists, according to postmodern and postcolonial critics, when we neglect diversities and intersectionalities within culture and hence inadequately represent the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of culture, and when we fail to delineate historical contexts in which any cultural aspect has been developed. In their view, there is no authentic cultural identity. If there is such authenticity, it is merely imagined. As a founding postcolonial theorist from India, being aware of the problems and perils of essentialism, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1988) proposed the idea of "strategic essentialism," which is defined as the "strategic use of a positivist essentialism in a scrupulously visible political interest" (Spivak, 1989, p. 126). Her idea is that we can self-reflexively essentialize culture as long as we do so only temporarily in order to achieve a certain political goal. Solidarity is temporary and imaginary for the specific purpose of social action and social change. In her conceptualization, such essentialisms are not descriptions of culture as static and fixed but strategic political tools of provisional representation. Some criticize that Afrocentricity is a form of cultural essentialism, while others proclaimed that Afrocentricity is a variation of strategic essentialism. How would you respond to these two views on Afrocentricity?
Asante: Your insight is rich, and your experience with some of your students is the same as my experience. This idea of imitation of the West is really about the dominating presence of White supremacy as a doctrine in many places in the world. It is really not so much the West that is being imitated but White people. The student who does not find my English or your English "good enough" is merely responding to the idea that only White people can actually speak English the way it is supposed to be spoken despite the many Whites, including English Whites, who struggle with the language. Imitation is not only a form of flattery as the saying goes, but it is an expression of the loss of culture. However, I am aware that cultures intersect and interact, and, consequently, there are certain aspects of all cultures that are bent by these interactions, but the complete loss of one's own sense of place occurs when one actually through force or agreement begins to imitate Whites as if they represent the norm.
This is my problem with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. It appears that she wants to criticize and to accept the West all at once. As a postcolonial thinker, she is quick to see that to live freely, it is necessary to deconstruct all past histories of the United States in order to achieve some notion of truth. I am certain that, among other issues, the questions in her mind in 1988 had to be similar to these: What about the genocide of the Native Americans? What about the dispossession of the Mexicans? What about the enslavement of the Africans? What about the incarceration of the Japanese? What about the persecution of the Chinese railroad workers in the western states? I believe that confronted with these questions, Spivak spoke of strategic essentialism as a way to accommodate the system she found in the United States. Since she did not want to obliterate the system, to stand it on its head, to take it down to the point where we start again, she tried to rearrange the gallery by moving pictures around in the hall. Strategic essentialism is a nonstarter for Afrocentrists. One does not call French centered notions of its history and culture strategic essentialism. English national ideals are not strategic essentialism. Spivak is evading the problem with postcolonialism, a variant of Westernity, that is, the Western imposition of its worldview on the world of literature. I disclaim all forms of imposition, and I recognize the bind that postcolonialists are in with the idea that they can critique and preserve at the same time. All oppressive forms must be rejected straightaway.
In an interview with Sara Danius and Stefan Jonsson, Spivak (1993) moved toward multiculturalism as a way to abandon strategic essentialism, but, alas, she jumps from one hot plate to another because the type of multiculturalism she proposes is similar to what Diane Ravitch had proposed in the late 1980s, a multiculturalism that allowed White culture to remain hegemonic with all other cultures, African, Asian, Latino, Native American, in the same bowl under an overarching White cultural domination (see Asante and Ravitch ). No, this does not work, and what Afrocentrists have done is to propose that multiculturalism can only work when Whites are seen as being alongside every other cultural group, not above, not outside the mix as some governing hand. Afrocentricity is neither biological reductionism nor a form of strategic essentialism. It may be considered, however, a philosophy of culture that is employed in any analysis of African phenomenology. As such, it is both a theoretical and a critical tool when used to discuss the imposition of the West as normative on issues of culture.
Miike: What troubles me most about Spivak's notion of strategic essentialism is its highlighted emphasis on temporal solidarity and non-systematic self-representation of a certain "subaltern" group of people. I think her idea is important in that she advocated a viable way for an underrepresented group of people to represent themselves without losing sight of positionality and complexity and put forward their communal identity, despite its internal diversity, for political purposes. In this sense, the concept seems to be useful in resolving the anti-essentialism versus nativism debate. I wonder, however, how we can forge our collective and concrete resistance against, say, intellectual Eurocentrism, which is linked to other types of Eurocentrism and promulgated not only by Western scholars but also non-Western scholars, while stressing the nature of such fragile solidarity and employing notso-repeatable representations. Spivak (1993) opined: "A strategy suits a situation; a strategy is not a theory" (p. 127). Here she made explicit that contingent inconsistency is inherent in her idea of strategic essentialism.
Needless to say, our theoretical ideas should be open to dialogue, sensitive to context, and subject to modification. In this regard, they should be always tentative and inconclusive. Nonetheless, how can we advance our reconstruction projects in practice when we do not firmly, and, to some extent, consistently make concerted efforts to represent ourselves in particular ways? By presenting our descriptions and interpretations as strategic essentialisms, we may give the impression that our representations are mere imaginary strategies based on no substantial collective memories, shared community values, and indigenous traditions. Can we ensure equality and mutuality in intercultural communication in a world of power differentials by the skillful strategic use of essentialisms? While recognizing the fact that there are "deeply-held values, lifeways, and beliefs that are in dire need of deconstructive interrogation" (p. 32), Mendoza (2002) shared the following concern:
My own hesitance to count unproblematically on what seems to be a theoretically neat solution such as that of strategic essentialism... has to do with its implicitly secularizing ontological vision, one that can be easily interpreted as making "mere strategies" out of deeply-held cultural beliefs and values, many of them deemed sacred. I am not sure that, as a scholar, I have the ethical right to uncritically advocate, nor am I prepared to countenance easily, what could be the unwitting outcome of such advocacy, for example, the production of a totally de-sacralized and demystified world devoid of spiritual wonder. (p. 32)
Given the aforementioned considerations, I would submit that Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity should not be conceived of as strategic essentialisms. Of course, as you legitimately avowed, the Afrocentric paradigm did not evolve out of postcolonial studies. Besides, centricity as a quality of thought, not thought itself, prescribes how we theorize rather than what we theorize. The question of Asianness, for instance, is central to the Asiacentric terrain of inquiry, but what constitutes Asianness is debatable. Hence, dynamic cultural centering is not exactly the same as fixed cultural essentializing (see Miike, 2013). Nevertheless, reconstructive centrists cannot go along with worn-out anti-essentialist deconstructive criticism, which seems to adamantly deny any stable and communal characteristic of culture that bonds and connects a group of people, however imagined, by way of emphasizing the changing and multivariate nature of culture. The public philosophy of community building and ethics of caring and sharing, which are central to Afrocentric and Asiacentric projects, are never important to those deconstructive critics. I will come back to this point later when we belabor the issue of cultural romanticism and exoticism.
Since you stated that "cultures intersect and interact, and, consequently, there are certain aspects of all cultures that are bent by these interactions," let us talk about cultural hybridity. Homi K. Bhabha, another India-born leading postcolonial scholar, popularized the concept of cultural hybridity with the publication of his 1994 book, The Location of Culture. How do you think about his idea of "third space"? Is cultural hybridization, through uncovering cultural discontinuities rather than rediscovering cultural continuities, a pathway to the future of intercultural communication and the prospect of a global society? Bhabha (1994) asserted:
For a willingness to descend into that alien territory--where I have led you--may reveal that the theoretical recognition of the split-space of enunciation may open the way to conceptualizing an international culture, based not on the inscription and articulation of culture's hybridity. To that end we should remember that it is the "inter"--the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the inbetween space--that carries the burden of the meaning of culture. It makes it possible to begin envisaging national, antinationalist histories of the "people." And by exploring this Third Space, we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as the others of our selves. (p. 56)
Asante: I see some value in Bhabha's line of reasoning. This notion of split space or Third Space is inalienable in any intercultural encounter because it is the ground that can be claimed temporally. Like the interstices that existed between the ancient city-states of Meroe and Napata, the Third Space, unoccupied until an encounter, remains unused, unengaged, and pregnant with possibilities that cannot be realized until humans meet to converse, struggle, or love. Now the problem with the Third Space, however, is not its theoretical potential in our discourse but the danger that one party might seek to assert full authority over the Third Space so that it becomes an appendage to one's own culture as a mark of power. Communication scholars must not underestimate the presence of force, material, ethical, economic, or symbolic force, that radically undermines the movement toward equality. So this is why I have said that "cultures intersect and interact" because I insist on the possibility of equality in the give-and-take of social interaction. Of course, I have usually avoided the idea of hybridization, but there are some reasons to see it as a useful concept of blending, bonding, and bending of cultures. Yet one must not go too far with this reasoning without some caution because what may initially appear as blending of cultures often declines into the assertive and aggressive overtaking of one culture by another. What a joy if we could insure a truly human equality in the Third Space?
You have made a very powerful observation that I would like to support. The idea that centricity is not thought itself but rather "prescribes how we theorize rather than what we theorize" captures the essence of an authentic perspectivist vision. One cannot and must not see this idea as some immoveable standpoint but rather as you have called it a "dynamic cultural centering" (Miike, 2013). The meaning of this has to be found in the interrogation of the architecture of discourse which is always changing and different and presenting innovative structures of engagement from culture to culture. I mean what is the condition for us viewing or participating in cultural interaction with an Iranian and an Iraqi over time within a democratic American society or with a Turk and a French in the same American context? What can we say about the complexities of situations where the interactions occur within one or the other's own cultural society? Would an Iranian interacting with an Iraqi in Iran be at an advantage over the Iraqi and so forth? These are critical issues in the discourse about perspective, and that is why the concept of a dynamic cultural centering makes sense in Afrocentricity as it does in the Asiacentric context.
Miike: You shrewdly pinpointed a very critical issue regarding Bhabha's conceptualization of cultural hybridity and third space. The third space is still a power-laden, not power-free, intercultural zone in which the motives, functions, and consequences of cultural hybridization are not necessarily ethical, neutral, and positive. Dr. Britta Kalscheuer (2013), a German sociologist and interculturalist, also posed a similar question about Bhabha's vision of intercultural communication in the third space:
It remained unquestioned that Bhabha's approach has the potential to criticize the grounding for hegemony and to change the relation between colonizer and colonized. However, when Bhabha states that "'people' always exist as a multiple form of identification, waiting to be created and constructed" and thereby stresses interventions and the agency of marginals, perhaps he is too idealistic. Do marginals really have the chance to "set up new structures of authority"? Or did Bhabha forget the question that Spivak raised in 1988, namely: Can the subaltern speak? Enthusiastically, he searched for possibilities and ways for marginals to get heard; yet he forgot to prove if marginals, once they enter the third space, have a chance to be heard or not. The precondition would be that they have equal chances to articulate their interests as do the powerful representatives. Here lies the problem: although Bhabha aims to point out ways, which allow marginals to become more powerful, he paradoxically fails to consider aspects of power. Marginals do not have the same chances to articulate their interests, and the powerful representations surely have an interest to keep their powerful position. It is to be expected that they do everything to break down the resistance of the marginals who would remain ineffective. (p. 184)
It is for this reason that centricity based on collectivity and community becomes of paramount importance in intercultural communication both in theory and in practice. Only through our collective voices can we increase our chance to be heard in the uneven and unequal contexts of global and local communication. Moreover, it is not so meaningful for intercultural communication critics to merely demonstrate that cultures are internally complex and historically hybrid. What they ought to do is to assess the trajectories and directions of cultural hybridity in postmodern spaces toward the healthy and balanced centering of cultural heritage. Thus, like Afrocentricity, Asiacentricity is not merely descriptive but also prescriptive. Asiacentric scholarship must commit themselves to generating self-defining ideas and taking self-determined actions that underscore ethical visions for human freedom and flourishing and that underline communal solidarity for cultural preservation and integration in both continental and diasporic Asia (Miike, 2012a; Miike & Yin, in press).
I have recently related such an essential task of culture-centric assessment and envisioning to Professor Hamid Mowlana's (1996, 1997) unitary model of communication as cultural ecology (see Miike, 2013). Should intercultural communication research be concerned only with what the field can do for individual choice and freedom in postmodern spaces, not with what the field can do for the ecology, ethos, and ethics of culture and community? If individuals can be heard in the third space, shouldn't we care for whatever happens to the communal health of culture as a result of intercultural contact? Is intercultural communication essentially for individuals who are "marginals," not for collectives who belong to a community? These are important questions especially for the future of critical intercultural communication studies.
Indeed, the sustainability of local community, let alone global society, through humanistic connection is the paradigmatic problematique of contemporary intercultural communication scholarship. We are so much into multicultural individuality, cosmopolitan mobility, social change, and material progress. We have rarely considered ecological issues in culture and communication. Whereas "intersectionalities" of individual identity, "intercultural personhood" through individuation and universalization, the "third space" through cultural hybridization, and creative "in-between-ness" of marginality may shed light on complex realities in which we all live, they can offer very few insights into actual community building and concrete collective solidarity (Asante, Miike, & Yin, 2013b, Yin, 2009). The conceptual significance of centricity lies in this regard as well.
Yet some critics have further accused Afrocentrists and Asiacentrists of cultural romanticism and exoticism. When we re-describe and re-vision our cultures, we tend to be overly positive and optimistic. They have criticized us for masking past and present internal oppression within our own cultures under the guise of our "rosy" representations. They went so far as to say, for instance, that my Asiacentric scholarship is nothing different from the Orientalist characterizations of Asian cultures. Related to this critique of self-romanticization and self-Orientalization is the issue of double incommensurability over space and time. According to these critics, we often compare the ancient African or Asian cultures with the contemporary European (American) cultures and perpetuate the incompatible dichotomy between the West and the non-West. How do you think about these issues of cultural romanticism and binarism? Are centric descriptions and visions different from cultural exoticism? Or do we actually need romanticized Afrocentric and Asiacentric visions for cultural recovery in the postcolonial world? Is cultural binarism sometimes necessary given postcolonial conditions?
Asante: Thanks, Yoshitaka, for your discourse on these issues. There are, of course, several concerns that I have about the construction of Western ideals as normative in the previous discussion. I recognize that these are not your terms, but rather you are raising them for commentary. I do not see Afrocentrists or Asiacentrists as romanticists or exoticists. One has to claim a Western bias to even engage in a discourse that is limited by the terms cultural romanticism and exoticism. What is romanticism anyway? How is Rome a part of this vision of a philosophical location outside of the vast Gothic spaces in Europe? I like the way Ana Monteiro-Ferreira (2012) puts it: "we should repudiate all attempts to label centric paradigms binarism or romanticism. These two notions are again only valid if one adopts the Western discourse and conceptualizations about the place and role of cultures that have, in the postcolonial discourse, been laden with essentialism. Demonizing cultural centeredness is accommodationist scholars' strategy to avoid the hermeneutical role of culture as the place of a common ethos that carries and shapes strong identitarian bonds" (Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference, Lecture, October 14, 2012).
As you have claimed, the idea of hybridity can be problematic for a true intercultural communication encounter. This is so not because of some inherent problem with hybridity itself, but because there appears to be a concerted effort to limit the ability of the "marginalized" people to assert their identity, culture, and worldview. Tillotson (2011) argues that postcolonial discourse, alongside terms such as essentialism and colorblindness, are nothing more than agency reduction formations. The aim of these formations is to distract, neutralize, and otherwise prevent the development of a strong identitarian ideology by the marginalized populations. We must not grant the hegemonic forces the power to constrain or restrain our freedom to have a collective assertive personality against all forms of oppression, discrimination, and prejudice. Actually, this assertion is a form of communication of the highest type because it prevents the unequal, anti-egalitarian communication encounters that assume superior and inferior spaces or that seeks to create hybridity.
Finally, I believe that the emphasis on individual communication competence, while necessary, should not confuse us about community and culture. One does not make culture alone; neither does one establish cultural identity alone. Identity cannot be reduced to one individual apart from her or his community; the person who engages in communication enters with cultural baggage. In effect, this is what gives communication, intercultural communication, its meaning and richness as a discipline and as a practice. Without this cultural substance, communicators are simply circulating and recirculating mono-cultural ideas of the so-called universal and are not engaged in authentic dialogue.
Miike: You are right. Consciously and unconsciously, we are easily taken in the Eurocentric basis of knowledge, language, and discourse. One problem with postcolonial studies is that it sees primordial ties primarily as removable sources of oppression and barriers to progression to the "cosmopolitan" world without boundaries. As a deconstruction-oriented poststructural thought, it is predicated on the implicit assumption that unlimited and transcendent self-reinvention is possible and desirable by freeing oneself from any form of "restrictive" inherited traditions (Karenga, 2006). But I have maintained that primordial ties can be foundational resources for expression and empowerment when we choose to embrace and transform, rather than suppress and eliminate, them (Miike, 2010a). Here I am not arguing that one need to accept her or his precious heritages as they are, and that one must choose to have ties to one ethnicity, one language, one land, one religion, and so on and so forth. My argument goes along with Asian religious-philosophical teachings. The Buddhist idea of co-arising (yuan in Chinese, en in Japanese, and yon in Korean) teaches us that everything is conditioned in a web of interdependency but not determined and unchangeable. Confucian wisdom tells us that we are fated by our primordial ties and yet still have the agency and power to transform them as co-creators of the universe with Heaven and Earth.
Another problem with postcolonial studies is its elitist scope and orientation. It not only generalizes the experiences of privileged individuals in the metropolitan cities of the West but also employs highly abstract, complex, and indeed obscure language. If only a very limited number of people even among scholars can properly understand their discourse, what would be the impact and application of "sophisticated" postcolonial studies in real life? In his latest book, Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing, Ngugi (2012) thematized the riches of "poor theory," which implies the barest yet creative and do the most with the least. He wrote:
Some presentations of theory have become like a gift carefully wrapped in layers of beautifully colored paper that the recipient, with great expectations, spends hours opening only to find a nondescript item inside. The recipient is supposed to appreciate the colorful thickness of the wrap. Of course, a gift of high quality, a diamond with a thousand rays of light, may also be wrapped up in layers of thick paper, and one may have to dig layers of dirt to reach a gem buried under the earth. Poor theory may simply remind us that density of words is not the same thing as complexity of thought; that such density, sometimes, can obscure clarity of thought. I like Taoism because the thought carried in the deceptively simple writing is anything but simple or static. I would like to think of poor theory as the Taoism of theory. Like Taoism, poor theory need not be static. (p. 3)
Whenever we propose an African or Asian theory, a common reaction from Eurocentric (U.S.) European and non-European colleagues is: How is it different from such-a-such theory that we have? Thus, we stress differences to argue for the need of our theory. Then, they complain that we are confrontational, not dialogical, and that we perpetuate binarism and incompatibility, not connection and coherence. It seems to me that whatever we do is wrong. It is not O.K. for us to ignore European traditions, but is it O.K. for Asia not to engage in Africa, Latin America, or even Eastern Europe and neglect similarities among them? Are we supposed to be in constant dialogue only with Western Europe and see connections and commonalities? Binarism discourse, as it is used to find fault with the Afrocentric and Asiacentric paradigms, certainly reduces our collective agency and prevents our cultural recovery.
It is my contention that we do need positive and ethical visions for our culture and community. How can we encourage people to recover, rediscover, and respect our heritage and history when we always talk negatively about them? Also, there is no reason why we cannot use these positive and ethical visions to criticize and correct our own negative practices. It is not trite to emphasize that it is possible and commendable to advance profoundly humanistic and significantly non-Western visions. I concur with Karenga's (2006) Kawaida position that "the best of our culture is among the best of human culture." He passionately advised us:
It is to overturn oneself first, decolonizing one's heart and mind; to root oneself in one's culture; to bring forth the best of what it means to be African [or Asian] and human in the world; to speak one's own special cultural truth to the world and use it to resist and affirm; to deconstruct and reconstruct both the realm of human knowledge and human society, and, as Fanon says, dare to contribute to the project, setting in motion a new history of humankind. (p. 268)
As you noted, I sometimes played the role of the devil's advocate and brought to our table all the paradigmatic issues that critics of Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity have raised. But, of course, you know that I firmly believe in the idea of centricity and its transformative power in advancing mutual understanding and respect across cultures. Citing the commentaries of William James on pragmatics and Max Planck on physics, Walter R. Fisher (1989), who is obviously tired of responding to his critics of the narrative paradigm, summarized four stages of academic reaction toward a new idea: (1) a theory is "attacked as absurd"; (2) a theory is "admitted as true but obvious and insignificant"; (3) a theory is "seen to be so important that its adversaries claim they themselves discovered it"; and (4) "its opponents die, and the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning" (pp. 55-56). Let us cherish the hope that future generations of scholars will read and understand Afrocentricity and Asiacentricity with their less biased and more receptive minds.
I have enjoyed our Afrocentric-Asiacentric dialogue very much. Before concluding the present intercultural conversation, I would like to ask you, as one of the pioneers in the field, about the future role that intercultural communication research and education should assume in the globalizing world. In what directions should intercultural communication scholarship go? What would be important issues and challenges for future intercultural communication theoreticians and practitioners? What should interculturalists keep in mind as they enter the post-Western age of fragmentation and disintegration?
Asante: I have no fear of reframing the past or mapping the imagination based upon culture because I understand precisely the reality and the practice of hegemonic oppression. It is not simply a physical oppression but also, as Fanon (1952, 1963) understood, a mental oppression or, as I have called it, a dislocation, a moving off of center, a disorientation based upon the false assumption that one culture is better than another. This is where your notion of "foundational resources for expression and empowerment" makes sense to an intercultural communication discourse. You mentioned the philosophical resources, for example, of yuan in Chinese, yon in Korean, and en in Japanese. One could reasonably hold a discourse on the relationship of these concepts with the Ghanaian idea of nkrabea, loosely translated as destiny (see Asante & Chai, 2013). Other African societies and languages have their own terms for a similar idea. What constitutes our resources, however, are all of the accoutrements we have gathered from our experiences as participants in society. Of course, we can claim them or reject them as we wish, but they comprise the attributes of our uniqueness as individuals within community.
Once again, you have pinpointed accurately the abiding dilemma of theorizing in the West. The problem is like an elegant banquet in which there is just one table, and the banquet goers are asked to join the table only to discover that only one place setting has a plate, a knife, and a fork; there are no silverware pieces at the other settings. If the other banquet goers are able to pull their silverware from their briefcases or purses, the one with the place setting might become agitated that the others are even courageous enough to say that they have their own silverware. He might even accuse them of being confrontational, angry, or militant, simply because they have their own silverware. We find ourselves asking: Who gave this banquet? Who chose the place setting for one person? Who decided that others could not bring their silverware? And what culture teaches its votarists to be anti-egalitarian? A banquet with a multiplicity of cultures represents the most empowerment moment in an intercultural setting because we are able to appreciate the great beauty of diversity.
We have just about come to the end of communication theory in the West. It has trampled upon itself because it has created anti-egalitarian, anti-African, anti-Asian, and anti-Latino forms of rhetoric that have trapped the West in self-referential language of dominance. For example, even the more reasonable ideas advanced by Adrian Holliday (2007) wrestle with the octopus of Western assumptions about Africans and Asians. Thus, the critical cosmopolitan language of sociologists seeks to account for the seduction present in Western hegemonic notions of communication with the ideas of Othering. We must, in the end, avoid all constructions that inherently sideline Asian and African people. In fact, there is nothing in the so-called collective cultures of Africa and Asia that reduce other people to sub-cultures and sub-humans. I mention this last term because it was at the heart of the most massive demonstration of Othering during the Holocaust. Hitler's concept of Untermenschen did not come out of thin air; it was sanctified with ascription of difference. This is why I find terminology such as "the West and the non-West" or "the Center and the Margins" to be troubling.
The future of intercultural communication must reside in the courage of scholars to engage indigenous knowledge from all areas of the world. There will have to be, as you have intimated, conversations among Asian and African ideas as well as those that we will continue to have with European traditions. But, alas, we cannot, and we must not, advance any idea of cultural dominance as representing humanity. Our success as communicators does not have to come through the West or anywhere else; effectiveness must be found in our response to global dynamics, informatics, and actions. As you have articulated in your pioneering essay (Miike, 2008b), there are Asiacentric paradigms that constitute aspects of our human treasure of ideas. These are no small contributions to our world festival of intellectual pathways to happiness. We must learn to embrace new paradigms and their expert concepts that grow from the wisdom and teachings of diverse peoples.
Finally, we must also be vigilant that chauvinistic language does not re-appear after we have shown that it is possible to have "positive and ethical visions for community" without trying to reframe hegemonic concepts. Afrocentrists believe that essentialism, neoessentialism, and non-essentialism are not the real issues of communication; a genuine commitment to ridding our societies of inequality and ideas like the center and the periphery are the issues that must transform our thinking about true communication. All ideas are ideologically driven. Yet our struggle is with values because we are in the world, and we are of the world, and can be proactive agents against all forms of oppression. Yoshitaka, as I see it, we are sailing a river toward a restorative sense of dialogic justice that will help right the leaning ship that took on too much hegemonic baggage on its intellectual journey.
Miike: It has been my great pleasure to engage in this Afrocentric-Asiacentric discussion on paradigmatic issues in intercultural communication studies with you. The idea of our dialogue project has been lingering around for several years. But we could not find the time to work on it. You have recently founded the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies in Philadelphia with Ms. Yenenga. With all the commitments that you have, you must be busier than ever. Thank you very much for your time. Although space does not permit us to list over 75 books and 500 articles of yours, I have compiled a bibliography of your publications in communication studies (see "A Bibliography of Molefi Kete Asante's Publications on Rhetoric, Culture, and Communication" at the end of this article). You also published your first memoir, As I Run toward Africa (Asante, 2011c) last year. I am sure that the reader will further explore your Afrocentric ideas and insights in your voluminous writings and join us in the new multicultural journey toward a global community and a higher humanity. I wish to conclude the present dialogue with the message of U.S. President Barack Obama from Hawai'i who won reelection tonight (on November 7, 2012): "Our diversity defines us rather than divides us" (in the words of Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie).
* An earlier version of this article was presented on the panel, "Global Community, Intercultural Communication, and the Problematic of Paradigm," at the 98th annual meeting of the National Communication Association on the theme, "Celebrate COMMunity," in Orlando, Florida on November 15-18, 2012. All the publications by Asante (except Asante [2007c, 2009c, 2011c] and Asante and Ravitch ) cited in the dialogue are included in "A Bibliography of Molefi Kete Asante's Publications on Rhetoric, Culture, and Communication" by Miike.
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Miike, Y. (2012b). "Harmony without uniformity": An Asiacentric worldview and its communicative implications. In L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter, & E. R. McDaniel (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (13th ed., pp. 65-80). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Miike, Y. (2013). The Asiacentric turn in Asian communication studies: Shifting paradigms and changing perspectives. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. 111-133). New York, NY: Routledge.
Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (in press). Asiacentricity and shapes of the future: Envisioning the field of intercultural communication in the globalization era. In L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter, & E. R. McDaniel (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (14th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Monteiro-Ferreira, A. (2012, October). The Asantean concept of agency. Paper presented at the 24th Annual Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
Mowlana, H. (1996). Global communication in transition: The end of diversity? Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mowlana, H. (1997). Global information and world communication: New frontiers in international relations (2nd ed.). London, UK: Sage.
Ngugi, T. (1986). Decolonizing the mind: The politics of language in African literature. Oxford, UK: James Currey.
Ngugi, T. (2012). Globalectics: Theory and the politics of knowing. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Okafor, V. O. (2010). Understanding the Afrocentric conceptual paradigm. In C. C. Robertson (Ed.), Africa rising: Multidisciplinary discussions on Africana Studies and history--From ancient times through modernity (pp. 11-24). Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Spivak, G. C. (1988). In other worlds: Essays in cultural politics. New York, NY: Routledge.
Spivak, G. C. (1989). In a word: Interview with Ellen Rooney. Differences: Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 1(2), 124-156.
Spivak, G. C. (1993). An interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (by S. Danius & S. Jonsson). Boundary 2, 20(2), 24-50.
Tehranian, M. (1999). Global communication and world politics: Domination, development, and discourse. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Tillotson, M. (2008). Afrocentricity and location theory. In A. Mazama (Ed.), Essays in honor of an intellectual warrior, Molefi Kete Asante (pp. 109122). Paris, France: Editions Menaibuc.
Tillotson, M. (2011). Invisible Jim Crow: Contemporary ideological threats to the internal security of African Americans. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Tsuda, Y. (2008). English hegemony and English divide. China Media Research, 4(1), 47-55.
Tsuda, Y. (2013). The hegemony of English and strategies for linguistic pluralism: Proposing the Ecology of Language Paradigm. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. 445-456). New York, NY: Routledge.
Wang, G. (2011). Orientalism, Occidentalism and communication research. In G. Wang (Ed.), De Westernizing communication research: Altering questions and changing frameworks (pp. 58-76). London, UK: Routledge.
Wong, P., Manvi, M., & Wong, T. H. (1995). Asiacentrism and Asian American studies? Amerasia Journal, 21 (1/2), 137-147.
Vora, E. (1995). Asante's contributions to intercultural communication. In D. Ziegler (Ed.), Molefi Kete Asante and Afrocentricity: In praise and in criticism (pp. 71-85). Nashville, TN: James C. Winston.
West, C. (1993). Beyond Eurocentrism and multiculturalism: Vol. 1 Prophetic thought in postmodern times. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press.
Yin, J. (2009). Negotiating the center: Towards an Asiacentric feminist communication theory. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 4(1), 75-88.
A Bibliography of Molefi Kete Asante's Publications on Rhetoric, Culture, and Communication
(By Yoshitaka Miike)
Asante, M. K. (1975). African and African American communication continuities. Buffalo, NY: Council on International Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Asante, M. K. (1976a). Communication, urban culture, and the 20th century. Communication: Journal of the Communication Association of the Pacific, 5(1), 60-77.
Asante, M. K. (1976b). Television and Black consciousness. Journal of Communication, 26(4), 137-141.
Asante, M. K. (1980a). Intercultural communication: An Afrocentric inquiry into encounter. In B. E. William & O. L. Taylor (Eds.), International Conference on Black Communication: A Bellagio Conference, August 6-9, 1979 (pp. 1-18). New York, NY: The Rockefeller Foundation.
Asante, M. K. (1980b). Intercultural communication: An inquiry into research directions. In D. Nimmo (Ed.), Communication yearbook (Vol. 4, pp. 401410). News Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Asante, M. K. (1980c). International/intercultural relations. In M. K. Asante & A. S. Vandi (Eds.), Contemporary Black thought: Alternative analyses in social and behavioral science (pp. 43-58). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (1980d). Television's impact on Black children's language: An exploration. In M. K. Asante & A. S. Vandi (Eds.), Contemporary Black thought: Alternative analyses in social and behavioral science (pp. 181-194). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (1980e). The communication person in society. In M. K. Asante & A. S. Vandi (Eds.), Contemporary Black thought: Alternative analyses in social and behavioral science (pp. 15-28). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (1981). Intercultural communication. In G. W. Friedrich (Ed.), Education in the 80's: Speech communication (pp. 68-72). Washington, DC: National Education Association.
Asante, M. K. (1982a). Television and the language socialization of Black children. In G. L. Berry & C. Mitchell-Kernan (Eds.), Television and the socialization of the minority child (pp. 135-149). New York, NY: Academic Press.
Asante, M. K. (1982b). Research in mass communication: A guide to practice. Harare, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communication (ZIMCO).
Asante, M. K. (1983). The ideological significance of Afrocentricity in intercultural communication. Journal of Black Studies, 14(1), 3-19.
Asante, M. K. (1985). Rhetorical alliances in the Civil Rights era. Negro Educational Review, 36(1), 6-12.
Asante, M. K. (1986). The Egyptian origin of rhetoric and oratory. In M. Karenga & J. Carruthers (Eds.), Kemet and the African worldview: Research, rescue and restoration (pp. 182-188). Los Angeles, CA: University of Sankore Press.
Asante, M. K. (1990a). Afrocentricity and the critique of drama. Western Journal of Black Studies, 14(2), 136-141.
Asante, M. K. (1990b). Kemet, Afrocentricity and knowledge. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Asante, M. K. (1990c). The African essence in African-American language. In M. K. Asante & K. W.
Asante (Eds.), African culture: The rhythms of unity (pp. 233-252). Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Asante, M. K. (1990d). The tradition of advocacy in the Yoruba courts. Southern Communication Journal, 55(3), 250-259.
Asante, M. K. (1992). The escape into hyperbole: Communication and political correctness. Journal of Communication, 42(2), 141-147.
Asante, M. K. (1993a). Malcolm X as cultural hero and other Afrocentric essays. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Asante, M. K. (1993b). Racism, consciousness, and Afrocentricity. In G. Early (Ed.), Lure and loathing: Essays on race, identity, and the ambivalence of assimilation (pp. 127-143). New York, NY: Penguin.
Asante, M. K. (1995). Unraveling the edges of free speech. National Forum: Phil Kappa Phil Journal, 75(2), 12-15.
Asante, M. K. (1998a). Foreword. In J. D. Hamlet (Ed.), Afrocentric visions: Studies in culture and communication (pp. vii-ix). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (1998b). Identifying racist language: Linguistic acts and signs. In M. L. Hecht (Ed.), Communicating prejudice (pp. 87-98). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (1998c). The Afrocentric idea (Rev. ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Asante, M. K. (1999a). An Afrocentric communication theory. In J. L. Lucaites, C. M. Condit, & S. Caudill (Eds.), Contemporary rhetorical theory: A reader (pp. 552-562). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Asante, M. K. (1999b). The painful demise of Eurocentrism: An Afrocentric response to critics. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Asante, M. K. (2000a). African Americans and Korean Americans: Modeling the American Dream. In M. K. Asante & E. Min (Eds.), Socio-cultural conflict between African American and Korean American (pp. 13-23). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Asante, M. K. (2000b). Afrocentricity and history: Mediating the meaning of culture in Western society. Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics, and Society, 2(3), 50-62.
Asante, M. K. (2001). Transcultural realities and different ways of knowing. In V. H. Milhouse, M. K. Asante, & P. O. Nwosu (Eds.), Transcultural realities: Interdisciplinary perspectives on cross-cultural relations (pp. 71-81). Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (2002a). Intellectual dislocation: Applying analytic Afrocentricity to narratives of identity. Howard Journal of Communications, 13(1), 97-110.
Asante, M. K. (2002b). Language and agency in the transformation of American identity. In W. F. Eadie & P. E. Nelson (Eds.), The changing conversation in America: Lectures from the Smithsonian (pp. 7789). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (2003a). Afrocentricity: The theory of social change (Rev. ed.). Chicago, IL: African American Images.
Asante, M. K. (2003b). The future of African American rhetoric. In R. L. Jackson & E. B. Richardson (Eds.), Understanding African American rhetoric: Classical origins to contemporary innovations (pp. 285-291). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K. (2004a). Afrocentricity and communication in Africa. In C. C. Okigbo & F. Eribo (Eds.), Development and communication in Africa (pp. 3-13). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Asante, M. K. (2004b). The Afrocentric idea. In R. L. Jackson (Ed.), African American communication and identities: Essential readings (pp. 16-28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (2005a). Race, rhetoric, and identity: The architecton of soul. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books.
Asante, M. K. (2005b). Television and Black consciousness. In D. M. Hunt (Ed.), Channeling Blackness: Studies on television and race in America (pp. 60-63). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Asante, M. K. (2006). The rhetoric of globalization: The Europeanization of human ideas. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 1 (2), 152-158.
Asante, M. K. (2007a). An Afrocentric manifesto: Toward an African renaissance. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Asante, M. K. (2007b). Communicating Africa: Enabling centricity for intercultural engagement. China Media Research, 3(3), 70-75.
Asante, M. K. (2008). The ideological significance of Afrocentricity in intercultural communication. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (pp. 47-55). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K. (2009a). Afrocentricity. In S. W. Littlejohn & F. A. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory (Vol. 1, pp. 24-27). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (2009b). Interracial communication. In S. W. Littlejohn & F. A. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory (Vol. 1, pp. 562-564). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K. (2010). Oro-la: Communicating the person in an African cultural sense. In X. Dai & S. J. Kulich (Eds.), Identity and intercultural communication: Vol. 1 Theoretical and contextual construction (pp. 151-159). Shanghai, China:
Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. Asante, M. K. (2011a). De-Westernizing communication: Strategies for neutralizing cultural myths. In G. Wang (Ed.), De-Westernizing communication research: Altering questions and changing frameworks (pp. 21-27). London, UK: Routledge.
Asante, M. K. (2011b). Maat and human communication: Supporting identity, culture, and history without global domination. Intercultural Communication Studies, 20(1), 49-56.
Asante, M. K. (2012). Maat and human communication: Supporting identity, culture and history without global domination. Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, 38(2), 127-134.
Asante, M. K. (2013). Afrocentricity: Toward a new understanding of African thought in the world. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. 101-110). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., & Anderson, P. A. (1973). Transracial communication and the changing image of Black Americans. Journal of Black Studies, 4(1), 69-80.
Asante, M. K., & Appiah, M. (1979). The rhetoric of the Akan drum. Western Journal of Black Studies, 3(1), 8-13.
Asante, M. K., & Atwater, D. F. (1986). The rhetorical condition as symbolic structure in discourse. Communication Quarterly, 34(2), 170-177.
Asante, M. K., & Barnes, A. (1979). Demystificaiton of the intercultural communication encounter. In M. K.
Asante, E. Newmark, & C. A. Blake (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural communication (pp. 95104). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., & Chai, R. (2013). Nkrabea and yuan in Akan and Chinese: Cultural intersections and communication implications in an African and an Asian society. Journal of Black Studies, 44(2), 119136.
Asante, M. K., & Davis, A. (1985). Black and White communication: Analyzing workplace encounters. Journal of Black Studies, 16(1), 77-93.
Asante, M. K., & Davis, A. (1989). Encounters in the interracial workplace. In M. K. Asante & W. B. Gudykunst (Eds.), Handbook of international and intercultural communication (pp. 374-391). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., & Frye, J. K. (1977). Contemporary public communication: Applications. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Asante, M. K., & Gudykunt, W. B. (Eds.). (1989). Handbook of international and intercultural communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., & Kim, K. L. (1984). Realizing a new information order: Alternative strategies. Journal of Communication, 34(4), 143-147.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2008a). Dedication: In honor of Dr. Everett M. Rogers (1931-2004). In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (pp. ix-xi). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2008b). Introduction: Issues and challenges in intercultural communication scholarship. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (pp. 1-8). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (Eds.). (2008c). The global intercultural communication reader. New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2013a). Dedication: In honor of Dr. Everett M. Rogers (1931-2004). In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. ixxii). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2013b). Introduction: New directions for intercultural communication research. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. 1-14). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (Eds.). (2013c). The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Asante, M. K., & Min, E. (Eds.). (2000). Socio-cultural conflict between African American and Korean American. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Asante, M. K., Newmark, E., & Blake, C. A. (Eds.). (1979a). Handbook of intercultural communication. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., Newmark, E., & Blake, C. A. (1979b). The field of intercultural communication. In M. K.
Asante, E. Newmark, & C. A. Blake (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural communication (pp. 1122). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., & Vora, E. (1983). Toward multiple philosophical approaches. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Intercultural communication theory: Current perspectives (pp. 293-298). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Asante, M. K., & Xie, G.-Y. (1983). Media and criticism in China: The case of the Cultural Revolution. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 7(3), 253-261.
Cassata, M. B., & Asante, M. K. (Eds.). (1977). The social uses of mass communication. Buffalo, NY: Communication Research Center, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Cassata, M. B., & Asante, M. K. (1979). Mass communication: Principles and practices. New York, NY: Macmillan.
Milhouse, V. H., Asante, M. K., & Nwosu, P. O. (2001a). Introduction. In V. H. Milhouse, M. K. Asante, & P. O. Nwosu (Eds.), Transcultural realities: Interdisciplinary perspectives on cross-cultural relations (ix-xx). Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.
Milhouse, V. H., Asante, M. K., & Nwosu, P. O. (Eds.). (2001b). Transcultural realities: Interdisciplinary perspectives on cross-cultural relations. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.
Newmark, E., & Asante, M. K. (1975). Perception of self and others: An approach to intercultural communication. In F. L. Casmir (Ed.), International and intercultural communication annual (Vol. 2, pp. 54-61). New York, NY: Speech Communication Association.
Rich, A. L., & Smith, A. L. (1970a). An approach to teach interracial communication. The Speech Teacher, 19(2), 138-144.
Rich, A. L., & Smith, A. L. (1970b). Rhetoric of revolution: Samuel Adams, Emma Goldman, and Malcolm X. Durham, NC: Moore.
Smith, A. L. (1969). Rhetoric of Black revolution. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Smith, A. L. (Ed.). (1970a). Black perspectives on speech education [Special issue]. The Speech Teacher, 19(2), 1-144.
Smith, A. L. (1970b). Henry Highland Garnet: Black revolution in sheep's vestments. Central States Speech Journal, 21(2), 93-98.
Smith, A. L. (1970c). Socio-historical perspectives of Black oratory. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 56(3), 264-269.
Smith, A. L. (1970d). Some characteristics of the Black religious audience. Speech Monographs, 37(3), 207-210.
Smith, A. L. (1970e). Television and the tactics of Black revolution. In D. W. Parson & W. A. Linkugel (Eds.), Television and the new persuasion: Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Symposium on Issues in Public Communication (pp. 49-70). Lawrence, KS: House of Usher.
Smith, A. L. (1970f). Toward transracial communication (Center Monograph Series No. 1). Los Angeles, CA: Afro-American Studies Center, University of California at Los Angeles.
Smith, A. L. (1971a). Markings of an African concept of rhetoric. Today's Speech, 19(2), 13-18.
Smith, A. L. (1971b). Interpersonal communication within transracial contexts. In L. L. Barker & R. J. Kibler (Eds.), Speech communication behavior: Perspectives and principles (pp. 305-320). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Smith, A. L. (Ed.). (1972). Language, communication, and rhetoric in Black America. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Smith, A. L. (1973). Transracial communication. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Smith, A. L. (1974). Theoretical and research issues in Black communication. In J. L. Daniel (Ed.), Black communication: Dimensions of research and instruction (pp. 136-144). New York, NY: Speech Communication Association.
Smith, A. L. (1976). Interpersonal communication within transracial contexts. In L. A. Samovar & R. E. Porter (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (2nd ed., pp. 325-338). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Smith, A. L., Hernandez, D., & Allen, A. (1971). How to talk with people of other races, ethnic groups, and cultures. Los Angeles, CA: Transethnic Education/Communication Foundation.
Smith, A. L., & Robb, S. (Eds.). (1971). The voice of Black rhetoric: Selections. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Vora, E., & Asante, M. K. (1979). The impact of the concept of race versus that of culture on communication. In W. G. Davey (Ed.), Intercultural theory and practice: Perspectives on education, training, and research (pp. 156-157). Washington, DC: Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research.
Welsh, K., & Asante, M. K. (1981). Myth: The communication dimension to the African American mind. Journal of Black Studies, 11(4), 387-395. Ziegler, D., & Asante, M. K. (1992). Thunder and silence: The mass media in Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Molefi Kete Asante, Temple University, USA
Yoshitaka Miike, University of Hawai'i at Hilo, USA
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|Author:||Asante, Molefi Kete; Miike, Yoshitaka|
|Publication:||China Media Research|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2013|
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