Cultures in Contact: How Education and Cultural Studies Help Obliterate Unnecessary Perpetuation of Cross-cultural Misunderstanding Between the USA and the Arab World
Cultures often shape the way people think and the way they see the rest of the world. For cultures, to be sure, provide us with customs, values, ideas, beliefs and principles. And people live in a cultural web that influences the way they relate to each other, the way they look, their habits, dreams and desires. But as cultures bind people together, they also blind and set them apart. We accept certain ways of looking at the rest of the world that can only be characterized as cultural stereotypes or frames of reference. These stereotypes define their relationships to other nations, cultures and societies, and they view other cultures as prescribed by their own. The most dominant ones shape the way people perceive the world, and they blind us to other ways of seeing it. When something violates such stereotypes, it may be called unnatural, uncommon, or, even worse, unethical! Our identities (who we are and how we think) are deeply rooted in certain cultural values that are so closely associated with our beliefs that questioning them implies re-considering the way people see the world, and the way it sees them. As a matter of fact, in the aftermath of the Cold War and 9/11, 2001, the Arab and Muslim World has been engaged in an ongoing struggle to develop new approaches, initiatives, and programs toward a better understanding of the region and its peoples, while stressing the point that much of the misunderstanding between this part of the world (the Middle East) and the rest of the world stems from real conflicts and displeasure with Western policies. It is the purpose of this paper to explore the manner in which education and cultural studies can be a vehicle, which may serve to moderate the tensions that emerge from dissimilar understandings and goals. It is our intention to address those pedagogical and systemic aspects, which, in a way, serve to unintentionally reinforce a jaundiced view of other nations and people, and find answers for the following questions in the course of the paper as well: What divides and binds cultures? Where do our differences come from? Are those differences cultural? Are they religious? Are they social? Or are they political? Should nations live in cultural boxes? How can education and cultural studies help us build bridges instead of walls?
Key words: Mutual understanding; Common ground; Grievances; Foreign policy; Set apart; Differences; Exchange programs; Forums; Perceptions; Stereotypes; Animosity
Fulbright, J.W. (1967). The Arrogance of Power. New York: Random House.
Ghareeb, E. (Ed.). (1977). Split Vision: Arab Portrayal in the American Media. Washington, D.C.: Institute of ME Affairs.
Huntington, S. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations. Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49.
Jafri, M. (2005). Islam in America. Hamdard Islimacus, xxviii(2), 96-98.
Macedo, Donaldo. (1994).Literacies of Power: What Americans Are not Allowed to Know. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Obeidat, Marwan. (1998). American Literature and Orientalism. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.
Obeidat, Marwan. (1996). The Cultural Context of American Literature: A Barrier or a Bridge to Understanding. The Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 4, 37-44.
Obeidat, Marwan. (2001). Anglo-American Literary Sources on the Muslim Orient: The Roots and Reiterations. Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 13, 47-72.
Orhun, Omur. (2006).The Report of OSCE-ODIHR Roundtable: The Representation of Muslims in Public Discourse. In The NGO Roundtable Meeting, May 9th 2006 (pp.2-24). Warsaw: OSCE-ODIHR. Retrieved from www.osce.org/odihr/2561.
Reed, Adolph. (2004). The Nation, 278(13), 15.
Said, Edward. W. (1980). The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage Books.
Said, Edward. W. (1981). Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine how We See the Rest of the World. New York: Pantheon Books.
Said, Edward. W. (1994). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books.
Sullivan, John D. (2001). Democracy, Governance, and the Market. Retrieved from: http://www.usinfo.org/wf-archive/2001/010905/epf308.htm.
- There are currently no refbacks.
How to do online submission to another Journal?
If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:
1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author
Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.
Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture
Address: 730, 77e AV, Laval, Quebec, H7V 4A8, Canada
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com