Pictorica – Words interculturalists use


 

Today, in recognition the iconic, pictorial trend in cultural studies, I'm launching a new "P", Pictoria, an addition to my ongoing posts about Pedagogica, Practica, Politica, and Poetica. For starters, there will be a series of images, perhaps irreverent, but hopefully also insightful looks at words and phrases that are common, if not buzzwords in the intercultural field. Coming from a linguistic and social construction perspective, we might also be testing their illusory nature.

Obviously, the shell game is pretty old, probably well-established when Hieronymus Bosch painted The Conjurer (Con-man), somewhere around the year 1475, shown above. Notice the boy on the left is stealing the man's purse while he is distracted by the shell game. Abstractionism is the theory that our minds obtain some or all their concepts by abstracting them from concepts we already have, or from experience. What do our abstract cultural concepts promise us and what do they (fail to) deliver? What do they show and what do they hide? What do they steal from us when we are mesmerized by them?

Being aware of this dynamic and managing it is a challenge to both our own thinking and our work. How abstract are the cultural dimensions we take for granted and how questionable the assumptions they lead us to? In coming days, we will look at our intercultural vocabulary a word or phrase at a time via evocative images and little or no commentary – I will leave that up to you.

 

Watts image source: http://www.rageofreason.com/the-menu-is-not-the-meal/
Korzybski image source: http://www.corepsych.com/2014/05/alfred-korzybski-changing-thinking/

 

 

 

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