Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 31
Culture and Communication: An East Asian Perspective
Chair / Organizer: Guo-Ming Chen, University of Rhode Island

Two main trends have hastened the need for the world to understand East Asian culture and communication behaviors. First, with their large population and the rapid development of their economies in the last decades, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese have formed a powerful interdependent network that affects almost every aspect of world affairs. Second, as the world is moving towards a global community, mutual understanding among people of different cultures has become an indispensable requirement for global citizens to live together peacefully and productively. Because a lack of cultural awareness and proper ways to address cultural differences will result in unrealistic expectations, frustrations, and failure in establishing a positive intercultural relationship among people of different culture, to understand the way East Asians think and act will prove to be an important step for developing a more interdependent and peaceful future world.

In order to help people better understand East Asians and their culture, scholars from different areas are invited to provide innovative viewpoints in this panel. The papers provide insight views on different aspects of East Asian culture and communication behaviors, including Japanese enryo-sasshi communication, the impact of ch'i on East Asian cultures, the influence of yüan on Asian social behaviors, and the intellectual interaction between East and West. It is hoped that the contributions of these papers not only help people understand East Asian communication behaviors, but also enrich the literature in this area of research.

1) Yoshitaka Miike, University of New Mexico. "Japanese Enryo-Sasshi Communication and the Psychology of Amae: Reconsideration and Reconceptualization."

It is nearly 30 years ago that Takeo Doi first discussed implications of the concept of amae (mutual dependence) for Japanese patterns of cultural communication. Amae has ever since served as one of the key words for deciphering the psychology of the Japanese communicator and the process of Japanese communication. This paper further explores the conceptual significance of amae in Japanese culture and communication studies.

This paper first reviews and critiques how amae has been documented and described in Japanese culture and communication literature. In particular, it reconsiders the relationship between amae and the enryo-sasshi interaction style (which is characterized by the speaker's modesty or self-restraint and the listener's empathic guesswork) and points out that amae both encourages and discourages Japanese enryo-sasshi communication.
Secondly, this paper re-conceptualizes amae as two types of human communication needs: (1) the message-expanding need that encourages the enryo-sasshi interaction style, and (2) the message-accepting need that facilitates the assertion-acceptance interaction style (which is characterized by the speaker's directness of self-expression and listener's open-mindedness).

Based on this re-conceptualization of amae as human communication needs, this paper finally proposes the new concept of meta-sasshi (sasshi on the amae level) and provides a more systematic model of interaction dynamism in Japanese amae-based communication.

2) Jensen Chung, San Francisco State University; Charles Chung-li Yang, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan; Kazuya Hara, Meikai University, Japan.
"Contemporary Ch'i Research in East Asia: Implications and Utilities to Communication Research."

It is difficult to find another concept as unique to, as influential on, and as ubiquitous in East-Asian cultures as the concept of ch'i (ki). For over two thousand years it has been studied in and applied to medicine, martial arts, fensui, literature, calligraphy, and philosophy in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other cultures.

Ch'i has been introduced to the field of communication in recent years. Some ch'i communication models have been developed and used for analyzing political communication and organizational communication. However, to broaden the base of investigating ch'i in communication and social behaviors, we need to examine the philosophical roots of ch'i in different cultural contexts. Some scholars have embarked on this task. For example, Kyu-Bin Kim, in his article, "New paradigm: ki," identified five philosophical approaches based on Korean philosophers who want to understand a relationship between a nature and human beings. One approach to studying khi focuses on interpreting/theorizing a traditional theory of chi in a scientific way, which is more relevant to contemporary contexts.

This paper surveys and compares contemporary ch'i philosophy research in Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan. It identifies the reasons for the isomorphic developments as well as common characteristics among the various versions of the ch'i concept. We then review and critique various paradigms and draw implications to the application of ch'i philosophy to the studies of communication and social behaviors in East Asian cultures.

3) Hui-Ching Chang, University of Illinois at Chicago. "Yüan as Key to Chinese Communication: Presentations and Re-presentations."

One of the key concepts that helps us better understand Chinese communication practices is that of yüan. Though originating in Buddhist theology to denote dependent origination or secondary causation in explaining manifestations of events, the concept of yüan, together with its multiple linguistic expressions, has also been used by Chinese and other Asian cultures as a metaphor to conceptualize interpersonal encounters. For some, yüan symbolizes precious opportunities to meet people in one's life, while for others, yüan denotes nothing other than a fatalistic attitude toward associations. As a result, yüan, as a concept by means of which to explain the idiosyncrasies of Chinese life, has claimed scholarly attention.

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it provides a thorough analysis of yüan 's impact on the beliefs of Chinese about their interpersonal lives, and on practices of diverse aspects of these lives. To achieve this goal, a comprehensive literature review of yüan is provided, although specific attention is focused upon how it directs Chinese cultural practices of communication. Second, in the paper, we explore how scholars choose to delineate and critically evaluate yüan to account for Chinese life, whether to examine yüan from a philosophical viewpoint; as a defense mechanism; or any other approaches. This analysis should allow us to understand how scholarly discourse on yüan is itself conditioned by its socio-historical contexts.

The paper concludes with a discussion of how the existence of yüan marks the uniqueness of Chinese culture, and will explore the utility of using folk concepts as a key to understanding in depth Chinese cultural life.

4) Xiaosui Xiao, Hong Kong Baptist University. "Intellectual interaction between East and West: A Taker's Perspective."

The East-West intellectual communication has been practiced in two general ways. First, it has been undertaken by those who try to introduce fundamental concepts of their own culture to other cultures. The imposed Western education in many Eastern colonies like India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong used to be a typical example of this way of communication. Second, East-West intellectual communication takes the opposite direction. It is initiated by native speakers who try to introduce important concepts from other parts of the world to their own culture, as in the case of the past century's native campaigns for Western learning in many developing Eastern nations. As the West gradually withdraws from the East as a colonizing force and is therefore no longer able to determine when and how to export its ideas and thoughts to the East, the second method of East-West intellectual communication has become a more dominant and influential method of communication in the past century. This second method, however, has largely been ignored by scholars of East-West intellectual transaction. This paper addresses the characteristics of this second practice of East-West intellectual communication. Some important points of view essential to an in-depth study of this cross-cultural intellectual practice are also discussed.

Discussant: Guo-Ming Chen, University of Rhode Island


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