Globalisation, Culture and the Individual

Professor Kuniko Miyanaga of the Human Potential Institute discusses ‘Globalisation, Culture and the Individual’ at The Asian Conference on Language Learning 2014 in Osaka, Japan.

Culture offers an exclusive, epistemological system to make sense of the self and the world. Under cultural instructions, members see what and as they are supposed to see. The language is a major player of this role. This presentation focusses on how the same language and the culture may also offer a chance for the individual, speaker/observer, to go out of this closed epistemological and ontological circuit. The example is taken from English education in Japan.

The education filters the inferential and interactive structure of English which supports the speaker to move from the observation of the concrete to its abstract articulation through his act of reasoning. English is reduced to referential relationships, to be leveled with Japanese. The speaker loses the chance to articulate their individuation.

Here, two choices are available between continuing to filter inference and assimilating inference with reference. The latter may allow speakers to take advantage of the combination of English reasoning in abstraction and Japanese referential randomness/directness with the concrete, and to go out of fixations. The former continues to provide social security by trimming epistemological deviances.

The presentation stresses creativity by the speakers, which necessitates individuation, but not determinism.

Watch a follow up interview with Professor Miyanaga on Language and Identity.

Professor Kuniko Miyanaga

Kuniko Miyanaga is a cultural anthropologist and linguist and works on questions of globalisation, identity and language. She has taught at the International Christian University in Tokyo (1974-2002), and from 2005 she joined the faculty at Tama University, as a Professor of Anthropology, also serving as Dean of the School. Professor Miyanaga is the founding and current director of the Human Potential Institute NPO. She has taught for periods abroad at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and was a Fulbright Scholar at St Michaels College, VT. USA. Professor Miyanaga has also been a Visiting Scholar at the universities of Boston, Harvard, and Stanford in the USA, and Oxford in the UK through the Japan Foundation.

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