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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

Communication scholars gather in Taipei to discuss de-Westernizing

Taipei, Taiwan, 09 December, ( A group of predominantly Asian communication scholars will spend this weekend (13-14 December) here discussing the pros and cons of de-Westernizing communication research and try to arrive at a consensus on the universality of current theories that underlie communication research in Asia.

The international conference is convened by the National Chengchi University.

Conference participant Shelton Gunaratne, an emeritus professor of mass communication at Minnesota State University, said, "Defining what communication means will be an essential task of the group." Scholars have defined communication in more than 100 ways. Numerous disciplines have contributed to this field, which Americans have subdivided into mass communication and speech communication.

Gunaratne explained that American universities have traditionally taught mass communication as a social science and speech communication as liberal studies. Thus journalism and mass communication studies have produced a corpus of quantitative research statistically testing hypotheses derived from Western theoretical frameworks, which might lack relevance to Asian social contexts. U.S. scholars were primarily responsible for starting the cybernetic, sociopsychological and sociocultural communication traditions.

British and European scholarship preferred to look upon communication as a humanities discipline. They, as well as the liberal studies scholars in the U.S., focused on studying the communication traditions of rhetoric, semiotics, phenomenology, and critical/cultural studies. Their work, however, also reflected the bias of Western culture, philosophy and history.

Gunaratne pointed out that all these communication traditions reflected the cultural framework of Anglo-Euro-American society, but the scholars arrogantly assumed that their theories and research had universal validity. What conference participant Syed Farid Alatas, an associate professor of University of Singapore, identifies as Orientalism and Eurocentrism, characteristics traceable to colonialism and imperialism, were partly responsible for the Western biases of the dominant communication paradigms.

This week’s conference will attempt to sort out the universal aspects of existing communication paradigms and explore the possibility of adapting them to suit Asian cultural peculiarities. Conference participant Eddie Kuo, professorial fellow at Nanyang Technological University, calls this the “harmonizing” function.

The conference will also look at giving the nod for communication paradigms derived from the axial Eastern philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Hinduism. It will examine, among other things, whether the Buddhist paradigm of dependent co-arising (paticca samuppada) or the Chinese Yijing paradigm of 64 hexagrams could provide the architecture for a universal communication paradigm.

Conference participants include Molefi Asante, Temple University; Yaly Chao, Tamkang University; Guo-ming Chen, University of Rhode Island; Wei-wen Chung, National Chengchi University; Gholam Khiabany, London Metropolitan University; M. S. Kim, University of Hawaii; Paul S. N. Lee, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Yoshitaka Miike, University of Hawaii; David Morley. Goldsmith University of London; Graham Murdoch, Loughborough University; Shi-xu, Zhejiang University; Herng Su and Georgette Wang, National Chengchi University; and Emille Yueh-yu Yeh, Hong Kong Baptist University.

- Asian Tribune -

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