Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon

Duke University Press
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On the premise that words have the power to make worlds, each essay in this book follows a word as it travels around the globe and across time. Scholars from five disciplines address thirteen societies to highlight the social and political life of words in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The approach is consciously experimental, in that rigorously tracking specific words in specific settings frequently leads in unexpected directions and alters conventional depictions of global modernity.

Such words as security in Brazil, responsibility in Japan, community in Thailand, and hijāb in France changed the societies in which they moved even as the words were changed by them. Some words threatened to launch wars, as injury did in imperial Britain’s relations with China in the nineteenth century. Others, such as secularism, worked in silence to agitate for political change in twentieth-century Morocco. Words imposed or imported from abroad could be transformed by those who wielded them to oppose the very powers that first introduced them, as happened in Turkey, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Taken together, this selection of fourteen essays reveals commonality as well as distinctiveness across modern societies, making the world look different from the interdisciplinary and transnational perspective of “words in motion.”

Contributors. Mona Abaza, Itty Abraham, Partha Chatterjee, Carol Gluck, Huri Islamoglu, Claudia Koonz, Lydia H. Liu, Driss Maghraoui, Vicente L. Rafael, Craig J. Reynolds, Seteney Shami, Alan Tansman, Kasian Tejapira, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

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About the author

Carol Gluck is George Sansom Professor of History at Columbia University. She is the author of Thinking with the Past: Modern Japan and History and Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period, and editor of Asia in Western and World History.

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-way Place and an editor of Nature in the Global South: Environmental Projects in South and Southeast Asia, also published by Duke University Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Dec 4, 2009
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780822391104
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / World
Language Arts & Disciplines / Translating & Interpreting
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Winner of the National Communication Association's International and Intercultural Communication Division's 2014 Outstanding Authored Book of the Year award

This book engages the notion of cosmopolitanism as it applies to intercultural communication, which itself is undergoing a turn in its focus from post-positivistic research towards critical/interpretive and postcolonial perspectives, particularly as globalization informs more of the current and future research in the area. It emphasizes the postcolonial perspective in order to raise critical consciousness about the complexities of intercultural communication in a globalizing world, situating cosmopolitanism—the notion of global citizenship—as a multilayered lens for research. Cosmopolitanism as a theoretical repertoire provides nuanced descriptions of what it means to be and communicate as a global citizen, how to critically study interconnectedness within and across cultures, and how to embrace differences without glossing over them. Moving intercultural communication studies towards the global in complex and nuanced ways, this book highlights crucial links between globalization, transnationalism, postcolonialism, cosmopolitanism, social injustice and intercultural communication, and will help in the creation of classroom spaces devoted to exploring these links. It also engages the links between theory and praxis in order to move towards intercultural communication pedagogy and research that simultaneously celebrates and interrogates issues of cultural difference with the aim of creating continuity rather than chasms. In sum, this book orients intercultural communication scholarship firmly towards the critical and postcolonial, while still allowing the incorporation of traditional intercultural communication concepts, thereby preparing students, scholars, educators and interculturalists to communicate ethically in a world that is simultaneously global and local.

A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cultures, anthropologist Anna Tsing here develops friction in its place as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world.

She focuses on one particular "zone of awkward engagement"--the rainforests of Indonesia--where in the 1980s and the 1990s capitalist interests increasingly reshaped the landscape not so much through corporate design as through awkward chains of legal and illegal entrepreneurs that wrested the land from previous claimants, creating resources for distant markets. In response, environmental movements arose to defend the rainforests and the communities of people who live in them. Not confined to a village, a province, or a nation, the social drama of the Indonesian rainforest includes local and national environmentalists, international science, North American investors, advocates for Brazilian rubber tappers, UN funding agencies, mountaineers, village elders, and urban students, among others--all combining in unpredictable, messy misunderstandings, but misunderstandings that sometimes work out.


Providing a portfolio of methods to study global interconnections, Tsing shows how curious and creative cultural differences are in the grip of worldly encounter, and how much is overlooked in contemporary theories of the global.

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year

People speak different languages, and always have. The Ancient Greeks took no notice of anything unless it was said in Greek; the Romans made everyone speak Latin; and in India, people learned their neighbors' languages—as did many ordinary Europeans in times past (Christopher Columbus knew Italian, Portuguese, and Castilian Spanish as well as the classical languages). But today, we all use translation to cope with the diversity of languages. Without translation there would be no world news, not much of a reading list in any subject at college, no repair manuals for cars or planes; we wouldn't even be able to put together flat-pack furniture.

Is That a Fish in Your Ear? ranges across the whole of human experience, from foreign films to philosophy, to show why translation is at the heart of what we do and who we are. Among many other things, David Bellos asks: What's the difference between translating unprepared natural speech and translating Madame Bovary? How do you translate a joke? What's the difference between a native tongue and a learned one? Can you translate between any pair of languages, or only between some? What really goes on when world leaders speak at the UN? Can machines ever replace human translators, and if not, why?

But the biggest question Bellos asks is this: How do we ever really know that we've understood what anybody else says—in our own language or in another? Surprising, witty, and written with great joie de vivre, this book is all about how we comprehend other people and shows us how, ultimately, translation is another name for the human condition.

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