Reflection paper #1- Cultural Spaces

How might cultural spaces influence how individuals communicate with one another?

When it comes to ‘culture’, at first, it mostly came to me like things related to certain ‘country (or nation)’ such as French culture and Chinese culture and also I didn’t think that much about what cultural spaces I have been engaged in so far. According to the textbook titled Intercultural Communication in Contexts by Martin and Nakayama, cultural spaces can be defined as the particular configuration of the communication that constructs meanings of various places (M&N 267). It is not much difficult for many people to experience cultural spaces because they [we] are living in and mingling together with society in which our identities, history, power and culture are intertwined.

When living in Duluth last year, in my case, I got involved in several organizations in campus- Campus Christian Crusade (CRU); International Club; Korean Students Association (KSA); Badminton Club-and each group gave me different experiences in terms of cultural spaces. When I am in the church or with Christian friends like me, the topic for chatting is more likely to be ‘Christian’ things which include our faith, the bible, small group meetings with church friends, etc. I rarely tell this kind of topics with other ‘common’ friends, which means cultural space, culture within Christianity or the church in this case, regulates and controls my communication with one another.

Cultural spaces are especially reinforced within the context of different power relations. Power of the whites in U.S. history enabled its society to establish a neighborhood like “sundown towns” which is new and, similarly, the article titled white privilege shapes the U.S. also described how deeply white privilege have historically played a role in a culture of the United Sates in that the whites took advantage of races regarding to getting job or general intelligence, etc. These all exemplifies how power influences intercultural contact (M&N 290).

Like all of the others do, I have my own identities- female, 21year-old, Korean, single, etc-which is related to cultural spaces that have impact on creating communications. For example, it is not exaggerating to say the age tells and determines the majority or almost things related to me in Korea as an Asian country, unlikely to the United States. I got categorized in a group of age 21 at church, I should determine who is older or younger than me so that I can use appropriate communication terms- Korea use different types of speaking terms regarding to the age- and the first thing a person ask one another is how old you are (what is your age?). It is definitely a cultural thing and the age of 21 now is one of my spaces at least in Korea.

Overall, cultural spaces have very intimate relationship in regards to communication, and that’s why so called intercultural communication. We are putting our efforts- understanding history for instance- in communications and interactions with one another in order to make them better and fit ourselves in certain cultural spaces. Some people migrated to other places might have more difficulties getting used to certain circumstances than travelers especially because of language, climate, and customs of the new cultural space.

I believe it is important to get awareness of the relationships among culture, history, power, identity, and cultural space so as to get better understanding cultural space I have mentioned so far.


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