The series of essays we read about Iran and its visual culture were very dense and complex. I would like to re-read them fully, and on paper, not a computer. I would also like to re-read the first one after researching the divides within the Muslim faith. It’s unfortunate that Middle Eastern history is often an optional course while history of the West and even Asian regions are more accessibly taught. How are going to de-other the Middle East without knowledge of the region first?
Anyways, rant aside, I found the final essay very intriguing. When talking about a carpet exhibit that allowed audience interaction, the essay pondered upon how “the installation presented both an opportunity and an ethical dilemma: one can contribute to the success of an interactive art installation but in the process also destroy one’s cultural heritage” (Gem, Scheiwiller, Staci, pg 164). It got me thinking not only about education but HOW we educate. Making “play” out of another culture’s sacred decor is dangerous. However, it is important to try new things, engage with the Other, and draw visitors to learn.
This leads to an intercultural discussion. As mentioned in the essay, this gets tricky too. “The field of intercultural communication is ploughed by clichés, which cover up the ‘blind spots’ that threaten to grow rampant. Each effort of intercultural interaction is endangered by its own abuse” (Gem, Scheiwiller, Staci, pg 160). How do we study cultures in complete depth with our human, scholarly limitations? I had never thought about stereotypes being “blind spots,” but indeed they are. How many times have you talked to someone you thought was a nerd and they ended up being really cool? Granted, that’s much more of a minor issue than intercultural communication, but it gets my point across. Ignorance informs stereotypes. Instead of stereotypes, let’s create well-informed trends that hold onto correlative data rather than assumptions. The world needs it.
Also, this is an ad, but could it be the new wave of intercultural communication on a linguistic level?
Michaela Stock, Hope College 2020.