Critical Studies of the Cross-Cultural Communication Discourse Across Disciplines (by the example of reflecting cross-cultural conflicts in modern prose)
V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University,
Abstract. This work is devoted to the study of cross-cultural conflicts, reflected in modern prose. The work consists of three parts, in which the characteristics and differences of cultures are presented, supported by quotations from Akunin, Zagrebelnyj and Crichton. The first part is devoted to the analysis of fiction in the terms of reflecting of the national image of the world, each of which suggests its own understanding of overcoming of conflict situations. In the second part the conflict situations are considered through the comparison of language discourses and norms of cultures’ behavior. In the third part conflict situations are approached through the opposition My – Other’s in the systems of cultures.
Keywords: cross-cultural conflict, model of the world, national image of the world, culture, norms of behavior, picture of the world.
Беркута Ю.В. Междисциплинарные критические студии дискурса кросс-культурной коммуникации.
Аннотация. Данная работа посвящена исследованию кросс-культурных конфликтов, отраженных в современной прозе. Работа состоит из трьох частей, в которых предоставлены характеристики и расхождения культур, подкрепленные цитатами с работ Акунина, Загребельного и Крайтона. Первая часть посвящена анализу прозы прозы с позиции отражения в ней национального образа мира, каждый из которых предлагает собственное понимание предоставленных конфликтных ситуаций. Во второй части конфликтные ситуации рассматриваются через сравнение языковых дискурсов и норм поведения культур. В третьей части конфликтные ситуации рассматриваются через оппозицию Свой – Чужой в системах культур.
Ключевые слова: картина мира, культура, кросс-культурный конфликт, модель мира, национальный образ мира, нормы поведения.
The communicative process becomes possible only because of the activity of any type. It provides for the existence of various communication forms. In the communicative philosophy of K.-O. Apel , M. Buber , J. Habermas , K. Jaspers , M. Bakhtin , etc. communication is meant not only as an exchange of information, which matters for the participants of the communication, but also as a “process” in which “I” indeed becomes myself because of “I” discovering myself in the other. Humanity concludes, that the present person existence is possible only in a firm connection with other people.
Cross-cultural communication is an important aspect of human history development because it give each culture communicative forms such as the information exchange by means of symbols and images .
Modern prose fills gaps in the real communication emphasizing people’s ability to fulfill themselves in a conflict situation as in a boundary situation between other forms of interpersonal and cross-cultural communication . So, the modern literary work process reflecting a general trend in the communicative process development fills up “communication” and “conflict” with a new content [6, p 15].
Modern conflictology explains the origins of conflicts with different reasons. Especially there is a point of view that the hostility and the preconception among people are primordial and implanted in the human nature itself, within the instinctive and hostile human attitude to something different.
We use a comparative approach to analyze the communicative problem through a conflict in Ukrainian, Russian, American literature. This approach somehow enables explaining the problems of cross-cultural conflicts.
The culture is reflected in literary works as the condition and the result of the people’s communication. Referring to the means of reflecting cross-cultural conflicts in prose works, we will try to clear up the author’s position to their understanding of a conflict as a cultural phenomenon: whether this conflict is a cultural collision, a cultural competition or a breach of communication, which must be enriched by new achievements.
The importance of critical discourse studies across disciplines in the humanities of today generally, and, specifically, in studying cross-cultural communication, makes the paper topical.
The object of research is the prosaic discourse of cross-cultural communication analyzed for the purpose of its being the implementation basis for cross-cultural conflicts and the carrying out such an analysis is the purpose of the research.
The practical data for the study were taken from the following works of prose: The Turkish Gambit and A Diamond Chariot by Boris Akunin, Roxolana by Pavlo Zagrebelnyi, and Rising Sun by Michael Crichton, where Slavonic, western, and eastern cultures are in conflict.
The National Image of the World and Literary Conflicts
The processes, which occur in the modern world – changes in mass consciousness and individual consciousness, problems of human being in its sociocultural and individual dimensions, globalization and internationalization of the whole cultural world – escalate the communication problem, which includes conflict communication. Each culture and each person in such a situation face the problem of adopting the world culture achievements and the cultures of other nations, on the one hand, and the problem of protecting the national identity, on the other hand.
The concept of national image of the world developed by Georgi Gachev defines not national images of the world as the direct presentation to the people of its being but the myths and phantasms of this presentation, its literary, artistic and intellectual alternatives, that is the images of images.
All the authors of the works of prose we deal with are, in a way, champions of their national ideas; every people adapts the world itself with its own characteristic view of the world, linguistic idioms and mental configuration.
In Akunin’s Gambit, Anvar loves “свою несчастную Турцию”, is concerned with its being “страна великих упущенных возможностей”, and feels hatred to Russia because it absorbed “всё худшее от Запада и Востока”, is “нестабильна и нелепа”, and “в ней бродят дикие, разрушительные силы”.
Pavlo Zagrebelnyi’s Roxolana survives in a foreign land just because she “вчепилася серцем за далеку ріднизну”, and only her own country was capable of “дарувати їй вічність”.
The Japanese consider the persons who depart from traditions to be mean. That is why the Japanese traditions do not allow selling neither cities nor states, and the Americans doing that for making money always fail to understand such customs.
Relationships between people are a determinant of Japanese being [26, p 58]. Relationships, on which the Japanese world-view is build, aren’t projected by either business or sympathy. American people do not understand such a system, they are representatives of a culture without long-drawn historical traditions, their cultural values are based on the national mythology presenting “the American walks of life” as the life of an independent person .
Such uncertainty about negative or positive personal characteristics, which were formed in different national images of the world, leads Connor and Lieutenant Smith, the main characters of Crichton’s Rising Sun, to the situations, where they have difficulties in investigating the crimes the Japanese are implicated in . It is connected with different world views and models of conviction.
Prose demonstrates that the object of each theorization is kept by consciousness only because of its expanding in language, i.e. in discourse. It is given to us through the mediation of language and in language itself .
It is impossible to demonstrate, show, and research the national image of the world without embodying its manifestation in certain language forms. The characteristic feature of our research is that a reader gets familiar with the Japanese or the Turkish image of the world through the position of an author from another culture (Russian, Ukrainian, American). It is a mutual perception, about which Gachev writes, and just this creates an illusion of possible passing one’s own world-view, but indeed, we are within our national optics and mentality .
Prose does not show the national exposition itself, but there is always a premise, the national image of the world as a certain obviousness and absoluteness, behind any image. The very image is clear and the most obvious, but the most hidden for a representative of another culture.
The Cross-Cultural Conflicts within the Interactional Dimension of Language, Culture and Standards of Behavior
The mother tongue phenomenon is a phenomenon close to and interpenetrated with the phenomenon of the national image of the world. Language structures cannot be compared without cutting them into pieces alive, they can just be juxtaposed, and whole literary works only can be set side by side because any piece of fiction is a bright projection of the national image consolidating the national thinking in the people’s language and literature, and presenting the dual essence of the national image [27, p 250].
P. Zagrebelnyi, M. Crichton, and B. Akunin pay their considerable attention to the problem of communicative culture, which is a must for setting good relationships in society critical for the interactional significance and intensity.
B. Akunin in his novel A Diamond Chariot gives many examples of language misunderstandings in the case of cultural tradition clashes. At the same time, he takes into consideration special features of Japanese communication, which joins verbal and non-verbal means.
A certain language perception of Muslim ceremonial traditions somehow saves Roxolana. She grasps the language of ethics and uses it during talking to the husband and subordinates, corresponding with the kings.
In Connor’s opinion, the Japanese differ from the Americans people because of their specific communicative tactics, they are experts in indirect actions based on intuition. The notion “indirect action” means the impossibility to say anything right into somebody’s face. A Japanese avoids situations all along. Only fighting enemies look straight in each other’s eyes.
On one hand, the main characters are not lost in “the hell of identity” getting involved with the values of another culture. On the other hand, they do not turn into “a collage person”, who avoids expressing his own thoughts and fulfill themselves by means of combinating another culture qualities [24, p 110]. Because of their gold shell they use a conflict situation in order to clear the way for their self-actualization for account of the changes in traditional standards of another culture.
The main characters of the works we analyze can correspond to marginal persons influencing the tradition and the standard changes suggesting own language means for communication. Looking for possibilities of understanding the representatives of Japanese culture beyond the sphere of American culture principle infringement, Connor, familiar with Japanese traditions, is a mediator between the cultural worlds and suggests Smith a behavior strategy.
The relationships sempai-kohai can be understood by the Americans through an identification with the relationships “mentor-novice”, but such an analogy is quite approximate, because the relationships sempai-kohai in Japan is of a different nature, close to be the relationships between parents and children.
In contrast to the Europeans and the Americans, the Japanese can communicate by means of feelings, without words, relying on nonverbal communication, but such contacts are a privilege of a family or a native country, what is important for the overwhelming majority of Eastern culture representatives. All the other people representatives are strangers, with whom direct communication is impossible. The main character of B. Akunin’s novel, Fandorin, fails to understand many representatives of Japanese culture: the orphan telling that “a family must be together” alive or dead, even the woman he loves, because she represents the Japanese culture [1, p 58]. So, feeling a language does not become general for the representatives of different cultural worlds. It is a privilege of interpersonal communication.
Conflict situations in cross-cultural communication influence gradually the formation of the complex “language-culture” ruining fixed cultural traditions [22, p 17]. A Japanese overcomes a conflict situation in the conditions of another country by means of ethics. The very situation where “a person who communicates” tries to take into consideration “the whole context” of another culture lets us somehow avoid cross-cultural conflicts .
The problem of borrowing the values of another culture is connected with the situation “explanation-understanding” of another culture’s inner world. The attitude to immediate, “direct” borrowings in the historical past of European type cultures was frankly negative because it undermined the bases of a culture (e.g. its Christian bases). “You can found your own kin only in your own land impregnated by the labor of your ancestors”, – claims Pavlo Zagrebelnyi in Roxolana [9, p 590]. The Japanese culture, which is a part of our comparative analysis, differs in its attitude to borrowings..
The given examples exemplify the fact that language gets additional importance as the basic component in culture studying in general and specifically in prose studying. It is impossible to understand the main principles of any culture on the basis of pure observation without the guideline of language symbolism. Language symbolism makes these principles important and clear for society . “Real world” of this or that culture is built only on the basis of language means and habits.
Mine – Other’s in the Systems of Culture
In understanding of a representative of a European culture, communication is “being with another person”.
Culture cannot withdraw into its own world trying to reconstitute it, looking for itself, because it becomes a participant of the global act of cross-cultural communication [25, p 73]. The opposition Mine – Other’s takes up an important place in the framework of binary oppositions, affecting the cultural communication problems. The modern prose demonstrates this opposition to be one of the basic points for forming world-view of human community and individual person. Different type clashes of the given range of problems are reflected in prose when conflict situations appear between representatives of different cultural world.
In any culture, the Other always was seen bad which enabled the identification of Self, chopping off Mine from the Other. Description of the Other as a fierce enemy in Roxolana by P. Zagrebelnyi is an evidence of that fact.
If the Japanese are placed in a foreign culture, they consider themselves to be Japanese, in the first place, then members of that foreign culture. Crichton’s Captain Connor says, ‘I like them very much. But I'm not Japanese, and they never let me forget it … Family is family.’
Now more and more works consider solutions of conflict situations possible by means of bringing up a new person. So, the main characters in many works (e.g. in B. Akunin’s novels) are marginal people. The isolation in a traditional culture for the most abstract creatures, capable of performing a role of connecting the elements of different culture traditions, is the tactics of marginal people. Modern prose also reflects modern thinking of the post-modern period in its views on a conflict situation . Today the West declares that it is ready to begin communication with the Other, but the Other must start to speak its language. At the same time, the East does not mind to be attracted to the West civilization achievements ignoring the West culture peculiarities. Cross-cultural interaction forms as if for itself, for the side, which accepts. Such a type of cross-cultural interaction is the most brightly represented in military conflicts. The reticence liquidation in such conflicts means an inclusion of foreign symbols and ideas in the orbit of traditional national world-view on the basis of making subordinate, i.e. relationships between cultures form on the principle Master-Slave. In case of a victory the enemy turns into a slave, becomes more intelligible, can be led, because he is a part of Mine.
Modern Prose, reflecting the post-modern thinking, gives many types of cross-cultural communication a game status.
Amusements and games are substitutes of real live. Possibly prose expresses this way it protests against violence. Or it tries to plunge in the world of virtual reality, which is irresponsible. Prose does not give an answer, which has a single meaning, but makes a reader think over this.
Modern prose reflects a range of problems of cross-cultural discursive conflicts not accidentally – it is one of the main present problems, on which other types of art also pay attention to. Addressing a modern culture person, who needs answers on vitally important questions, prose can find new ways of affecting on a person.
Revealing the variety of cultural worlds, prose connects the solution of a communicative problem through problems of conflict situations with the problem of conservation of national image of the world. On the one hand, prose confirms the thought that any nation has its own firm physiognomy, world structure and thinking. On the other hand, it reflects globalization and internationalization processes suggesting a positive-marginal person, capable of finding their own course of life, which is different from the traditional one .
Appealing to the post-modern discourse characteristic of modern cross-cultural communication and solving conflict situations, prose pays particular attention to ethics as to means of cross-cultural communication, where the most part of heroes see possibilities of putting conflicts aside, prevention them [21, p 20]. Solving the problem Mine-Other’s, we appeal to post-modern thinking, which finds a game to be a life style. Playing situation works the most effectively in detective novels because modern person, who tries to find “substitutes” of real life, likes it very much. It can be one more reason of losing national originality of a person, who is being educated on modern works, which can be attached to a mass prose type.
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