Intercultural Communication in Wuhan

By November 21, 2012Recent Posts

Members of the Language on the Move team meeting at ZUEL: Li Jia, Zhang Jie, Ingrid Piller, Kimie Takahashi, Guo Jian, Jackie Chang (fltr)

Last week members of the Language on the Move team had the privilege of attending the International Conference on Research and Applications of Intercultural Communication hosted by the School of Foreign Languages at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (ZUEL) in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in central China.

When I checked in at the airport in Sydney, the check-in officer commented that Wuhan was an unusual destination for Australians to visit. However, it turned out that I was not visiting a foreign country but that I was visiting friends!

I had been invited to deliver a keynote lecture about the tension between national and commercial identities in intercultural communication. I called my lecture “between the Dragon and the Dollar” and focused on discourses about China and Chinese people in the Swiss tourism industry.  Additionally, there were two other keynote lectures by members of the Language on the Move team. Dr Kimie Takahashi spoke about “Asian Women on the Move” focusing on gender in intercultural communication. Dr Zhang Jie also focused on gender representations in intercultural communication in her analysis of identity options imagined for English language learners in textbooks targeting volunteers in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The conference provided a welcome opportunity to meet up with former and future PhD students and colleagues from around China and also make new friends and learn about recent scholarship in intercultural communication in China. Many of the discussions at the conference centred around questions of critical and creative inquiry in intercultural communication, as was the major concern of keynote speakers Professors Jia Yuxin and Song Li, both from the Harbin Institute of Technology and with longstanding ties to Australian universities through Song Li, who used to be a visiting scholar when I was still at the University of Sydney.

Other presentations focused on the communicative challenges in contexts of cultural diversity. I particularly enjoyed presentations by colleagues from Yunnan University of Nationalities, an institution to which we have strong links through former Macquarie University PhD student Yang Hongyan. Hongyan was unable to attend but two of her colleagues did. Li Jia spoke about the commodification of Yunnan folk songs in tourism contexts; and we’ll hear more about her research here on Language on the Move soon as Li Jia will take up a PhD scholarship granted by the China Scholarship Council at Macquarie University early next year.

Sun Jing, also from Yunnan University of Nationalities, introduced us to an intercultural communication course she has developed at that university as part of the general education program. The course specifically addresses the linguistic and communicative challenges experienced by ethnic minority students in contemporary China.

Overall, the conference provided an excellent opportunity for scholarly exchange in the field of intercultural communication and I am immensely grateful to the conference organizers for creating such an exciting space for this to happen. My connection with the School of Foreign Languages at ZUEL, too, is a longstanding one through the vice-dean of the English Department, Zhang Jie. After many years in Australia, Zhang Jie returned to ZUEL last year and has since worked tirelessly to formalize our collaboration and create stronger connections between our institutions. It was great to see her efforts supported by the Dean of the School of Foreign Languages, Professor Xie Qun, and the leadership of the university.

If you could not attend but want to get a sense of the spirit of the conference, watch the closing video on Youtube or Youku or enjoy the group picture. As is usually the case with academic publications, it will be a while before all this exciting work is published – so watch this space!

Author Ingrid Piller

Dr Ingrid Piller is Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Ingrid’s research expertise is in the fields of intercultural communication, bilingual education and the sociolinguistics of language learning and multilingualism in the contexts of migration and globalization.

More posts by Ingrid Piller
  • Jackie Chang

    I had a wonderful time in Wuhan. It was my honor to present my paper in NESTs and NNESTs in Taiwan in Wuhan at ZUEL 2012 ICC. I would like to give a special thank you to Professor Piller’s former Ph.D student, Dr. Zhang Jie, the Vice Dean of the School of Foreign Languages, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (ZUEL). Thanks to Dr. Zhang’s leadership as the secretary-general of 2012 ICC International conference, the conference was extremely successful. Thank you very much again – Dr. Zhang Jie!

  • khan

    Thanks Professor Ingrid and congratulations to all key note speakers, presentors and organizers for organizing a successful conference on a very very important subject of Intercultural communication. I look forward to reading the proceedings of the conference.

    What an excellent pictorial representation of cultural diversity. Great.

    Congratulations once again.


  • Xiaoxiao Chen

    Thanks Ingrid for the update about the conference! I can imagine it had been a most enjoyable and memorable time for the keynote speakers, the organizers, and the participants. I wish I had been there too!

  • Guo Jian

    Lovely picture and lovely conference!!

    Thanks all the talents who created such an opportunity for us to get together!. Espescially thank Dr. Zhang Jie and Prof. Yuan Yuan!!

    I met many excellent teachers and learnt quite a lot! Thank Prof. Piller again for telling me about the conference. Your speech made in the conference was fasinating and impressive. Your kindness and understanding win everyone’s heart and respect!! You are no doubt the best teacher in the world!!

    Congratulations and all the best!!

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  • Li Jia

    So excited to meet Ingrid, Ava, Kimie, Jenny, Jackie, Guo Jian, and two colleagues of Hongyan in Wuhan, “the land of milk and rice”! I enjoy everything there, the privilege of being part of the “Language-on-the-move”, the local foods and people and students from ZUEL. I’m always thankful for having such a precious chance meeting my future supervisor face to face before my formal PhD study in MQ. I feel proud of Ingrid’s charisma and scholarship for being able to attract many famous Chinese scholars for the conference and bringing back those lovely former and new students in Wuhan. Surely “visiting friends” also turns out my best memory in Wuhan. Thanks Jenny for your hospitality and I’m expecting to meet you in Kunming!

  • It was indeed a great conference and a great reunion! Many thanks to the School of Foreign Languages for making sure that the the conference ran smoothly. I’d particularly like to thank Dr. Zhang Jie for her hospitality during our stay – we had a great time, Jenny, and we hope you had a good rest after the conference!

    Now that Language on the Move is officially introduced in Wuhan, we look forward to getting more new members and contributions from China! 感謝 in advance:-)

  • Shiva

    Congratulations to all keynote speakers and organisers, particularly Ingrid and Kimie, on another valuable achievement! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your valuable experiences! 🙂

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  • kamal

    Thank you for sharing the comments on the conference.I was there.