Email in a ‘thirdspace’: enhancing intercultural communication

Intercultural communication has traditionally focussed on knowing other cultures and finding ways to bring about more harmonious interaction but it can also be considered as taking place in a dimension where participants make use of their different cultural positions to negotiate better understandings that reduce any power differentials that might exist between them. This idea raises the possibility that, rather than an us/them binary which tends to position one side of the binary as dominant and the other deficient in some way there is a ‘thirdspace’ (Bhabha, 1994; Soja, 1996) that can allow for deeper understandings between those who are in positions of power and those who may be marginalised. It has been suggested that email has the potential to include previously marginalised groups and close the gap between staff and students in educational settings (Thomas 2003; Cope & Kalantzis 2000).This paper is an initial exploration of how a study of email interactions between academics and international research students might lead to better understandings of what is happening in intercultural communication and offer insights into how it could be enhanced. In an environment where one of the challenges for Language and Academic Skills (LAS) advisers is to look for ways to enhance intercultural communication in the university, the notion of ‘thirdspace’ provides an important source for exploration and reflection.

Publication Source Information
Benzie, Helen
Year of publication: 
Title of Journal, Edited book or Conference and Page numbers: 
Critiquing and reflecting: LAS profession and Practice. Non-refereed Proceedings from the National Biennial Conference, ANU, Canberra
Milnes, Stephen
Contact details