|Intercultural and Transnational Pedagogy: Editors' Introduction - Our Content, Our Disciplines|
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An awareness of transnational and intercultural concepts provides opportunities not only for our classroom atmosphere, resources, and pedagogies, but also for how we view our subject matter and our own disciplinary histories.
As Mocko points out, the availability of materials from various lived Buddhist cultures, plus a new demographic reality wherein students in the classroom come from various Buddhist cultures, changes an introductory course on Buddhism into a course on “Many Buddhisms.” Mocko’s own intercultural experiences provided her an opportunity to assess how Buddhist studies have been taught in the West. She writes, “Where my own introduction to Buddhism had primarily involved philosophical debates and texts…. I wanted to give my students, as best as I could, a taste of embodied, lived Buddhist cultures that were a revelation to me when I began traveling to Japan and then to Nepal.” By providing lived experiences, Mocko also planned to challenge popular Western notions she expected in what she presumed would be a predominantly White student body. When she found that half of her students were Asian or Asian-American, she initially entertained the possibility of a mixed class of insiders and outsiders. In the end, though, that notion, too, was challenged because of the concept of “Many Buddhisms” itself. As she puts it, “There was no simple way for me to present course material as either familiar or strange to my students, no simple ‘us’ I could presume as my audience even from class meeting to class meeting.” Our intercultural context has challenged traditional courses on Buddhism and their presumed audiences, and has opened opportunities for new perspectives and methods.
For Kim as a theologian, intercultural concepts have also affected the content of what she teaches, as she is engaged in a project of “reconceptualizing the Divine in terms other than Euro-American thought.” This she accomplishes by placing Christian doctrines of Holy Spirit into dialogue with East Asian concepts of Chi. In Cuéllar’s article, the discipline is biblical studies rather than Buddhist studies or theology, but the implications are again similar. Cuéllar asks whether university archives can affirm aesthetic and cultural texts that lie outside Western standards. He answers in the affirmative, insisting that such archives become more “attentive to the contested texts of the racialized ‘Other,’ particularly those vernacular verbal genres linked to migration, exile, diaspora, and borderlands.” He points to an emerging interracial-ethnic alliance that “provides different ways of reading the biblical texts, but also creates a site of resistance wherein meaning is collaboratively negotiated, so as to avoid falling prey to dominant mythology.” As in the cases of Buddhist studies and theology, here is a chance to gain a fuller understanding of our subject, as well as a challenge to investigate embedded culturally hegemonic frameworks in the histories of our various disciplines.
Once again, we return to the theme of inclusion. In our classrooms and institutions, our transnational moment cautions us to be vigilant about inclusiveness in our classrooms, with our resources, in our content, and in the very conceptual foundations of our disciplines. When we find a lack of inclusiveness, we must strive to break down our tendencies toward Western dominance and Othering polarities and welcome more perspectives.