Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda (2009). The danger of a single story. Retrieved March 21, 2017 from http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story
Coming from the perspective of a story teller, in this talk Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes the danger of generalizing and viewing the world, its societies and people from only one single point of view. She uses her personal history as someone growing up in Nigeria and moving to the United States later in life to illustrate her point. Ngozi Adichie describes in a powerful way the essence of what intercultural communication, from my perspective, is all about. She emphasizes the importance of empathy and the ability to overcome stereotypes in order to create an environment of mutual understanding where no one is marginalized to only one single story.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing.
This foundational work in the area of critical pedagogy, first published in the late 1960s, offers new alternatives to the traditional banking model of education by characterizing the learners as co-creators of knowledge. For Freire education should not be a hierarchical endeavor where students are simply told what is right or wrong but rather a revolutionary one where students discover their ability to create knowledge merely guided through this experience by their teacher. This book has profoundly shaped my own understanding of how to create effective learning environments. Freire’s thoughts become especially important for me when it comes to adult education and workshop facilitation. Viewing my students and participants as equal creators of knowledge and providing them with freedom and responsibility for their own learning process have become main guidelines for me as an educator.
Rymes, Betsy (2014). Communicating Beyond Language: Everyday Encounters with Diversity. New York: Routledge.
Coming from the perspective of an ethnographer and applied linguist, in this book Betsy Rymes introduces in this book the concept of communicative repertoires. This term expresses the idea that communication functions through more than mere language, namely that individuals create their personal communicative repertoires which can include different languages, non-verbal communicative means, music, dance, slang, etc. Rymes furthermore introduces the notion of comembership which describes the need for two people to find common ground in order to communicate effectively and create dialogue. This book has shaped how I approach intercultural communication and how I think about the creation of communication and dialogue in general. Especially in a learning context, being aware of the concepts of communicative repertoire and comembership can help teachers, trainers, and facilitators to make use of their students’ diverse backgrounds in order to achieve effective communication and dialogue.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.
Lave and Wenger introduce the concept of Communities of Practice (CoP) in their collaborative work about “situated learning” where they describe the process of learning as social discourse between members of specific learning environments. Wenger further elaborated this concept some years later in his book “Communities of Practice.” While the theory developed by Lave and Wenger is situated in the context of learning environments, it can also be applied in a broader context to find new perspectives on the understanding of culture. This work can help to distance oneself from the common understanding that equates culture and nation state in order to move closer to an understanding of culture as an individual notion. With regard to Lave and Wenger, each individual is member of a diverse number of communities of practice. This ensemble of different memberships in diverse social settings could be seen as an individual’s personal perspective on culture. It furthermore helps to distance oneself from the use of stereotypes and labels when referring to individuals from different backgrounds.
Larsen-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2008). Complex systems and applied linguistics. Oxford University Press.
In this book Diane Larsen-Freeman and Lynne Cameron apply complexity theory to the field of applied linguistics. They argue that this approach offers new perspectives on how language can be used, taught and learned. Moving away from the concept of languages having definite boundaries, the concept of language in this book becomes more fluid and adaptive towards diverse learning environments. This book helps me to use my participants’ individual language histories in a specific learning context and bring them together in order to create a common learning experience for my participants and myself.
Pratt, M. L. (1991). Arts of the contact zone. Profession, 33-40.
In this paper Marie Louise Pratt describes the “pedagogical arts of the contact zone.” She writes about the ability of educators to value and utilize their students’ diverse histories and abilities by conceiving their classrooms as “contact zones” where people with different backgrounds, knowledge and abilities come together in order to create new knowledge and meaning for themselves. According to Pratt, the “contact zone” should function as a safe learning space for all participants. The ability to make use of differences within a learning environment is crucial for intercultural educators that work with people from all kinds of different backgrounds. It helps me to understand how differences can become an advantage rather than an obstacle.
Workshop & Lesson Design
Brooks-Harris, J. E., & Stock-Ward, S. R. (1999). Workshops: Designing and facilitating experiential learning. Sage Publications.
In this book Brooks-Harris and Stock-Ward give a hands-on description of how to approach the design and facilitation of experiential workshops effectively. Especially for novice facilitators, the authors give valuable tips and detailed descriptions of the process of experiential workshop design.
Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs.
In this book David Kolb develops and elaborates the concept of experiential learning which views a learning process as most effective when approached through experience. His model describes four stages on an experiential learning cycle: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. I have used this model for the majority of my workshop design.
Rohd, M. (1998). Theatre for community, conflict & dialogue: The hope is vital training manual. Heinemann Drama.
In this book targeted towards educators and practitioners, Michael Rohd describes how educators can use activating theater and activities related to drama and theater in their classroom or training. Most activities are specifically targeted towards questions of social change and inequality. This book is a great resource to connect performing arts and education, especially for trainers and educators who still need to practice their skills, since Rohd gives many advises for novice users of his theory.
Blommaert, J. (2009). Language, asylum, and the national order. Current Anthropology, 50(4), 415-441.
In this paper Blommaert tells the story of a refugee from Rwanda who comes across many obstacles in the process of applying for refugee status in Great Britain because his linguistic history does not fit the government officials’ expectations. Blommart points out that in many cases state institutions apply an understanding of sociolinguistics that is not in accordance with post-modern societies where national languages for many people are not a concept that would describe them and their life situations any more. This paper emphasizes the disconnect that often exists between administration frameworks in Western states and the actual life histories of immigrants that come to these countries. Conducting my internship at a ministry of integration in Germany, this disconnect between the bureaucratic system and immigrants’ actual life situations was apparent on a regular basis.
Dornhof, S. (2012). Rationalities of dialogue. Current Sociology, 60(3), 382-398.
Drawing on Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality, in this paper Sarah Dornhof analyzes the phenomenon of interreligious dialogue in Germany between Muslim immigrants and the rest of German society and German government. Dornhof found that interreligious dialogue in Germany appears in diverse manifestations and that it in many cases exceeds the boundaries of institutionalized dialogue created by the German government. Having conducted my internship at a German ministry for integration at a department called “Dialogue with Islam” and learning how institutionalized dialogue is created in Germany, this paper is particularly interesting to give a theoretical background to the practical experiences gained during my time at the ministry.
Lewicki, A. (2014). Social Justice Through Citizenship? The Politics of Muslim Integration in Germany and Great Britain. Palgrave Macmillan.
In this book Aleksandra Lewicki provides a valuable overview of the frameworks used by German and British governments with regard to the integration of Muslim communities. Coming from a comparative perspective, Lewicki furthermore points out social patterns apparent in both German and British societies. This book is a helpful addition to the practical experiences from my internship. Providing a broad context, it furthermore helps me to position discussions and conversations I had during the internship within the broader context.
Malik, J. (2013). Integration of Muslim Migrants and the Politics of Dialogue: The Case of Modern Germany. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 33(4), 495-506.
In this essay, Jamal Malik describes how the approach of interreligious dialogue in Germany is still guided by patterns created during the era of imperialism and how orientalist thinking is still present in Western thinking today. He argues that this fact leads to the formation of one Muslim identity in the understanding of German mainstream society. Malik argues that interreligious dialogue in Germany assumes that Islam is a fixed entity which is capable of representing all Muslims living in Germany. The aspects Malik covers in this essays are issues I have in some part also observed during my internship in the ministry in Germany. In other moments I observed situations where people tried to move away from this notion of viewing Islam in Germany in a generalized way. This essay is very helpful in putting the current situation in Germany in a broader context of European history and thought.
Said, E. W. (1979). Orientalism. Vintage.
This foundational work by Edward Said offers an in depth analysis of the phenomenon of Orientalism, its origins and ramifications, especially with regard to the scholarly world. Said gives a detailed description of how Western imperialism has created a distinction between itself as the superior, Western world and the “Orient” as a place of inferiority which, he argues, still guides the way Western societies see the world today. Said makes one point that in my opinion is especially important when it comes to intercultural communication and education, namely the distinction between self and other. This distinction is not just apparent in orientalism but, I would argue, in most everyday encounters where people come together. Intercultural educators should be aware of this distinction and its functioning in order to create effective intercultural learning environments.
Schiffauer, W. (2012). Before the Law: Priorities and Contradictions in the Dialogue Between the German State and Muslims in Germany. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 18(4), 361-383.
In this paper Werner Schiffauer describes the important notion how integration policies in Germany are not just used to create dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims, but how especially since September 11, 2001 integration policies are also used by the state to control Muslim communities in Germany in order to prevent radicalization. The notion Schiffauer describes in this paper also became apparent during my internship at the ministry for integration. Especially the topics of Salafism in Germany and Muslim communities’ connections to the Turkish state were central topics discussed in the ministry.