Today, more than ever success
in communication requires intercultural awareness and effective cross cultural communication skills.
Working, meeting, dealing, entertaining, negotiating and corresponding with the
opposite party from a different culture can be a minefield.
Understanding and appreciating intercultural differences ultimately promotes clearer communication, breaks down barriers, builds trust, strengthens relationships, opens horizons and yields tangible results in terms of
Students of the Faculty of World Politics of Moscow State
University suggest their own solutions to the cross-cultural controversies:
Intercultural controversies caused by political and diplomatic mistakes, their roots, manifestations, ways of dealing with them.
"If you look through all the different cultures. Right
from the earliest, earliest days with the animistic religions, we have
sought to have some kind of explanation for our life, for our being,
that is outside of our humanity."
“I do not want my
house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want
the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as
possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
(Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 - 1948)
do we, the humans, live today? What is our world and where is it going? These
questions still remain without a single correct answer. All the global solutions
offered by political experts and politicians are not so simple to be explained
in one word, they also can’t be worked out with the help of one scientific
reality is often much tougher than theoretical research. Our world can’t be
represented by a model of one unique society, based on one religion, one system
of traditions and one psychological type of individuals. We are surrounded by
numerous genuine cultures, we speak different languages and we pray different
gods and goddesses. Why should we become absolutely identical? Why should we all
lose the preciousness of being different? What is the purpose?
answer seems to be quite evident to me. Over the last decades the USA has
accumulated huge amounts of financial and strategic resources, pretending to
become the only superpower, the only authority within the whole world and
especially in Europe. The strategies offered by American politicians in the
majority of intergovernmental organizations and institutions, commissions for
international peace and security and forums are aimed at transforming European
national states into implicit political satellites with one universal economic
system dependent on American political decisions.
step, subtly erasing cultural borders which divide one nationality from another,
American policy is achieving its goals. The obvious signs are: putting into
practice laws aimed at preventing religious and ethnic minorities from
articulating their political interests, forbidding wearing religious symbols and
national clothes. Ignorance of the religious prescriptions’ necessity and
intolerance in Europe towards Arabs and Muslims leads to social instability and
bloody conflicts. Trying to undermine the basics of Islamic faith by forcing
women to stop wearing veils and crackdowns of peaceful demonstrations causes the
outbreaks of anger and outrageous behavior of Muslim population.
the possible solutions is to find general consensus in society. All minorities
should have governmental institutions’ credibility and their rights should be
respected. Otherwise, where is that honorable democracy?
has to become an instrument of peace-keeping process within the whole world,
because its positive influence on people minds is absolute.
Elena Zaikina, Faculty of World Politics
The more world leaders champion the need to respect cultural diversity, the less
they seem able to fulfill this goal. Numerous clashes on the grounds of
religious, ethnic, linguistic differences tear the world apart. How can we
account for such a surge of unrest considering just one fraction of the problem
– the relations between Islam and the secular community?
An awful lot of people accuse Islam of lacking the spirit of tolerance. This
fact can not be denied however examining the situation from another point of
view can be quite instructive. During the Cold War the West was so obsessed with
intimidating the USSR that it was even favouring Afghan Jihad represented by the
people whose life consisted of nothing but violence. In the 1990-s these bloody
thugs participated in the most atrocious crimes against the humanity. Osama bin
Laden wanted around the world as terrorist number 1 today was not so feared of
in 1996. That year the Sudanese government refused to grant him asylum any
further. However, instead of starting legal proceedings against this terrorist,
the United States sent him into exile in Afghanistan. Indeed, before being
subjected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the USA was not so concerned about
fighting terrorism. The same policy of double standards is peculiar to Britain
which was known to be a paradise for all sorts of Muslim terrorists before the
bombings of 2005 backfired on Londoners. So why should Jack Straw launch the
debate about Muslim women wearing veils therefore undermining the peaceful
manifestation of other peoples’ identity, amd at the same time promoting violent
currents of Islam?
One more thing often neglected by the people of the Western culture is our
West-dominated consciousness. We tend to believe that our values of democracy
and freedom of speech are universal which is not true. Unlike Voltaire’s
approach to fervently defend the right of his opponents to express themselves,
the Muslim world values Islam which is not just a religion but the way of life
and self-identification. Therefore publishing cartoons about Prophet Mohammed
for Muslims is an offence similar to any threat to democracy for the US.
Without relieving Muslims of all the responsibility for intercultural
controversies, I would nevertheless like to emphasize the need for the West to
tolerate someone else’s views in practices.
Talking about multiculturalism seeing the world from the Western angle is one
thing but actually understanding that the world is multi-faceted is another
though much more sophisticated thing.
Golovacheva, Faculty of World Politics
controversies and different political and diplomatic mistakes have existed since
the beginnings of diplomacy and politics. There have always been bloopers and
slips of tongue leading to a lot of political
conflicts. Politicians are only
humans and if we have the right to talk everything over in the comfort of our
kitchen, public speakers do not have such a right. Everything they say is double
checked and corrected by their speechwriters and event-managers. They are not to
make any kind
of mistakes, still they do. That happens probably because of their desire to say
something extraordinary or to show their very special opinion to the public
(even if it is absolutely inappropriate) no matter where ‘the performance’ takes
spite of all the attempts of censors to improve the image of a politician or
diplomat, we can still hear and observe some great controversies and widespread
discussions of the people and the whole communities affected by diplomatic
mistakes. Despite the English saying «sticks and stones can break my bones
but names can never hurt me», many people feel that words can hurt sometimes
even worse than weapons and they need to be controlled just as actions do. This
is especially true with the Muslim world where every step taken against the
Koran or any single element of Muslim religion is perceived as the religious war
with ideological contest. The Muslim world is completely different from the
Western traditional society and we are not to judge it. I suppose it's time to
stop talking about every Muslim as a potential terrorist. The less we talk about
these matters the less attention people will pay to them, and a Brit will not
turn around as soon as he sees a Muslim girl whose face is covered with the
Speaking about the outrageous public response to cross-cultural issues and how
to deal with them we've got to mention that the stronger political censorship
is, the fewer problems of that kind we have. Maybe it will sound a bit silly but
let's stop all those speeches that just enhance the now bitter intercultural
controversies. People just try not to mention the unpleasant issues unless
politicians or journalists emphasize them a lot!
Olga Ignatyeva, Faculty of World Politics
Nowadays globalization is becoming more and more of an issue. Relations between
states are getting closer and, consequently, there are a lot of
common deals between them in economic, political, social and others spheres of
spite of all current trends, each nation has always had (and, to my opinion,
will have) certain cultural traits, specific to its roots, its people and their
behaviour. All these aspects differ with each separate nation; these differences
are difficult to change, and any attempts to do it are destined to fail.
we have to face the fact that many of the intercultural controversies are caused
by political and diplomatic mistakes. Especially those connected with national
look back in history we can see many examples showing diplomats and politicians
paying no attention to cross-cultural issues. After wars victors instilled their
own rule on the territory of the defeated party, and in many cases the interests
and cultural features of smaller peoples were neglected.
like to draw your attention to intercultural problems in Africa. It’s known that
most African countries were colonies and there was constant rivalry between
European countries for ownership of lands in Africa. After World War II African
peoples were given freedom; new independent nation-states were created, but
their borders were not determined according to the cultural factors: the
language, religion or ethnicity (if we look at the political map we can see a
‘chess field’ in Africa). And so people of different nations were mixed, one
nation had to live in several countries, people of absolutely different
languages and customs had to live in one country, and later it became the cause
of internal and external conflicts between African states.
example, after such divisions on the territory of Nigeria people of different
cultural backgrounds live together, they have different religions, and so
clashes between them took place. The authorities tried to mediate between
those peoples. One of the solutions was the division the government of the
states. At first in 1967 there were 12 states and now there are 36 states in
Nigeria. Thus, it was an attempt to fragment people into ethnic factions.
Besides, in all Constitutions of Nigeria the dominant religion was not defined.
Thus the authorities tried to avoid contradictions between people.
Democratic Republic of Congo had conflicts with Zaire and Angola because people
with different cultural peculiarities wouldn’t like to live with the people of
other ethnic belongings and they wanted to unite and create their own state.
analysts think that economic help to the developing countries could stop the
tension, and if the African states reach economic prosperity
intercultural controversies will abate. Besides, UN peacekeeping forces have
always tried to maintain order in Africa. But these measures are only temporary.
And not all native people are happy with the presence of military forces from
other countries; they want legal solutions to be adopted.
issues of intercultural controversies are still on the agenda, and the goal of
international community to resolve conflicts, to regulate disputes between
nations is still to be fulfilled!
Yana Pinchuk, Faculty of World Politics
don’t like coloured people, but we never commit atrocities against non-whites.
Who are we? We are racists. We don’t buy clothes in the shops with salespersons
from African countries, but we accuse extremists of prompting hostility. Who are
we? We are racists. We don’t speak with the Asians and turn away from women in
veils, but we condemn journalists and politicians for inciting international
conflicts. Who are we? We are racists.”
our childhood we brought up by our grandmothers and grandfathers – the citizens
of the Soviet Union. They unwittingly took part in the political program of
ethnic cleansing, which was put into practice by the leaders of their country.
As a result, my granny still uses unPC phrases to speak about ‘coloured people’,
so by some standards she can be classed as a racist. In my primary school there
was only one foreign pupil – a boy from Croatia. Later the number of ‘aliens’ in
Moscow increased, and I started to feel nervous, because I was sure that ethnic
minorities wanted to evict me from My City. I realized that I hate my
Government, that couldn’t manage expelling illegal aliens and declared the
policy of “international friendship”. I heard how ‘non-whites’ talked to each
other in their native language in My Country, although they were sure to know
Russian too. I took it that in this way they showed me their contempt towards My
Culture. I saw harassment in their eyes and I answered them in the same way.
Unfortunately journalists did everything to make my “relations” with ethnic
minorities even worse: they were so convincing in their reports about frightful
murders which were all committed (in their opinion of course) by ‘the people
from Caucuses’, that I believed them. I was such a big fan of Russian sportsmen
during the Olympic Games, that I was ready to organize violence eruption against
dark-skinned men, who were more enduring from birth. I watched different movies
and made a conclusion that even in industrially developed countries there were
two zones: “the white zone” and “the black zone”. As a result I divided the
whole world into two groups: whites and non-whites. I went to the
football stadium and all the time I was a witness of how coloured sportsmen hurt
our, Russian sportsmen. Later I realized that it was just their style of playing
football, but it was too late – the stereotype had already been formed and
sometimes we have no power over our emotions, do we?
day I realized that I need to overcome my negative perception of ethnic
minorities. I got interested in the manifestation of their culture and their
history. I met non-whites in Moscow and I tried to help them if they spoke
Russian badly. But how can I react to the idea of some Muslim people that their
veil is a symbol of difference between two East and West?! If I want to overcome
this barrier of misunderstanding, why don’t they want to do the same?! Why do
they forbid our wearing Muslim clothes in Dubai?! I am not prepared to
understand oriental culture only with the help of Turkish carpets! I need to
become aware of who a Muslim woman is, but they prevent me from doing it! And
maybe, if they gave me this chance, I would become the staunchest defender of
Muslim women’s rights in the face of extremists!
Andreeva, a would-be-university student
TO BE CONTINUED!
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