Intercultural Memories

Contesting Places, Spaces, and Stories

by Ahmet Atay (Volume editor) Yea-Wen Chen (Volume editor) Alberto González (Volume editor)
©2021 Textbook VI, 192 Pages


Collective remembering is an important way that communities name and make sense of the past. Places and stories about the past influence how communities remember the past, how they try to preserve it, or in some cases how they try to erase it. The research in this book offers key insights into how places and memories intersect with intercultural conflicts, oppressions, and struggles by which communities make sense of, deal with, and reconcile the past. The authors in this book examine fascinating stories from important sites—such as international commemorations of Korean “Comfort Women,” a film representation of the Stonewall Riots, and remembrances of the post-communist state in Albania. By utilizing various critical and cultural studies and ethnographic and narrative-based methods, each chapter examines cultural memory in intercultural encounters, everyday experiences, and identity performances that evoke collective memories of colonial pasts, immigration processes, and memories of places and spaces that are shaped by power structures and clashing ideologies. This book is essential reading for understanding the links between space/place and cultural memory, memories of nationally, and places constituted by markers of ethnicity, race, and sexuality. These readings are especially useful in courses in intercultural communication, cultural studies, international studies, and peace and conflict studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction: Intercultural Communication, Memory, and Stories
  • Cultural Memories of Places and Spaces
  • 1. Communities of Memory, Coalition, and Race Trauma: The Moore’s Ford Lynching Reenactment
  • 2. (Be)Coming Home: Transformative Places and Koreamerican Identity in Itaewon, South Korea
  • 3. When “Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Square” Became “Liberty Square”: A Case of Contested Public Memories in Taiwan
  • 4. Remembering Communism: The Site of Witness and Memory and the House of Leaves Museums in Albania
  • Cultural Memory, Identity Politics, and Intersectionality
  • 5. (Mis)Remembering Stonewall: Narrative Authority and the American Monomyth in Queer Public Memory
  • 6. Queer Fantasy: A Memory of Michael Sam’s Big Gay Kiss
  • 7. Photographs as Diasporic Memories: Turkish Cypriots, Home, and Memory
  • 8. Displaced Memorials: Commemorating the “Comfort Women” in the United States
  • 9. “Funk Isn’t a Trend; It’s a Necessity”: Favela Funk’s Vernacular Discourse and the Struggle for Cultural Legitimation
  • Contributors
  • Index

←vi | 1→

Introduction: Intercultural Communication, Memory, and Stories


This Volume’s Origin Story

We begin our introduction with a story. After all, our stories that we narrate and share are based on our memories. We story our memories to keep people, places, and events alive and sometimes relevant. We remember details that might have been forgotten as we narrate our stories both verbally and visually.

The idea behind this project dates back to 2015 when Alberto González conceptualized a panel on public memory and intercultural conflict for the annual Central States Communication Association (CSCA) conference. In 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the three of us along with other members of the panel presented our own work. The panel attracted a large audience, and the presentations were received enthusiastically. We carried out more conversation on intercultural communication and the concept of memory throughout the conference. Soon after the conference, we decided to reformat our panel and explore the role of memory in cultural communication and feature pieces that theorize the notions of “memory and remembering.” Moreover, we were interested in presenting case studies that employ some of these theorizations but also discuss the links between culture and memory and illuminate different aspects of public and personal memory. Hence, this book was born out of our curiosity about the past and how we remember it as well as the cultural politics surrounding what we remember and what we forget. It also shows our commitment to further stretch the scholarly reach of critical intercultural communication to include memory studies.

←1 | 2→


I have been studying different aspects of intercultural communication for about 20 years now. Primarily, I have been examining issues pertaining to culture and transnationality in various settings, including media, classroom, or everyday interactions. However, a big portion of my research is focused on diaspora studies in general, and queer diasporic experiences in particular. My first book engaged with diasporic queer bodies in queer social networks sites and the ways in which they use these sides to make sense of their identities, to perform queerness, and cultivate communities to belong to. Along with this research, I have been interested in thinking and writing about the meanings of home, belonging, and memory for diasporic communities. Within that, I have been curious about the role of visual texts and new media technologies in remembering the past and also documenting a diasporic archive to capture in-between and hybrid experiences. More particularly, I have been invested in theorizing digital memory from critical intercultural communication perspective and within diasporic contexts.


I have been formally studying intercultural communication since fall 2004 when I entered U.S. academia as an international graduate student and instructor. Primarily, my research trajectory focuses on understanding and unpacking the cultural, relational, and material impacts of how we experience and communicate cultural identities (or not) across contexts (e.g., intercultural relating, identity-based nonprofit organizing, and higher education). Though cultural identities and memories are often not explicitly linked, memories, whether personal, public, or cultural, inform, shape, and/or affect the constructions and contestations of cultural identities. I am grateful to Alberto González for inviting me to participate in the 2015 CSCA panel, which became an opportunity for me as a Taiwan-born and U.S.-based scholar to (re)engage with personal and cultural memories about Taiwan that often feel both intimate and distant. Later, I had another opportunity to unpack memories and memorable moments of weathering institutionalized whiteness vis-a-vis oral history as an immigrant woman-scholar and faculty of color at a historically white institution for six years (Chen, 2018). Given the commitment of critical intercultural communication scholarship to the power, authority, and impact of histories and historical conditions on intercultural communication (e.g., Halualani & Nakayama, 2010), cultural memory offers a rich and exciting direction for such endeavors.

←2 | 3→


My early and more recent writing on Ohio Mexican Americans concerns how they enter and navigate the public sphere as a marginalized community. I have focused on Latinidad and arts activism (2014), poetic expressions of otherness by migrant workers (1990), and strategic uses of media by Mexican Americans in Northwest Ohio (1989). As I recall those articles and the residents of Mexican heritage (both “settled out” and temporary) I am struck by how they expressed their goals, how they crafted their identities, and how these were strongly tied to memory.

In private conversations and in public discourse, residents would tell stories about Mexico or South Texas. Some of the stories were their own and some were stories told by their elders. The stories often involved cooking methods like learning how to make the best tamales, celebrations like quinceaneras, or stories of mythical creatures like the chupacabra. Whether told out of nostalgia, ethnic pride, or social defensiveness, the stories were connections to an idealized time, the time before migration.

The chapter in this book is co-authored with Eun Young Lee. It emerges from my opportunity to teach in Seoul over the course of several summers and Eun Young’s summer visits to her hometown of Cheongyang. The first restaurant I went to in Seoul was Hiraku, a tiny Japanese place near where I lived. The second restaurant was a Tex-Mex place in Itaewon. (I began to wonder when I was going to eat at a Korean food restaurant!) In my view, Vatos Urban Tacos was better than many Mexican food restaurants in the U.S. In our chapter, we attempt to unpack the layers of diasporic remembering in the origin stories and the material elements of two well-known Korean restaurants.

Intercultural Communication Research and Memory

←3 |

Cultural memory as an area of study has been widely examined in cultural studies, memory studies, peace studies and even to a degree in rhetorical, media and film studies; it has yet to occupy a large role in intercultural communication. Even though rhetorical and performance studies scholars, such as Aden, 2014; Dickinson, Blair, & Ott, 2010; Hasian & Wood, 2010; Phillips & Reyes, 2011; Demo & Vivian 2012, have examined cultural memory as an idea in relation to political discourse(s), as an area it is under-examined in intercultural communication. Considering that critical intercultural communication scholars often focus on social and cultural ideas, such as marginalized voices and experiences and issues of power in social and cultural structures and practices (e.g., Collier et al., 2002; Halualani & Nakayama, 2010; Willink, Gutierrez-Perez, Shukri, & Stein, 2014) and deal with displacement, immigration, diasporic experiences, and cultural identity/ies (e.g., Atay, 2015; Cheng, 2008; Flores, 2003; Yep, 2013), it is rather surprising that (inter)cultural memory as an area of inquiry is not widely present in the field. Drzewiecka (2010) echoes this when she states: “While intercultural communication scholars are beginning to account for the formative function of history, fewer yet have turned their attention to the twists and turns of memory” (p. 292). Moreover, a branch of intercultural communication research examines cultural conflicts and their aftermaths. For example, the ongoing Syrian crisis generated research by intercultural communication scholars who study not only the different dimensions of the cultural conflict but also migration that has been taking place as the direct outcome of the ongoing war in the area (Wilmott, 2017). As these examples illustrate, intercultural encounters and representations regardless of their contexts and domains are often linked to the past. Hence, memory studies is highly relevant to (critical) intercultural communication research.

This edited volume aims to fill this void. The authors in this book use different critical intercultural communication and cultural studies frameworks to approach cultural memory. By utilizing various critical and cultural studies and ethnographic and narrative-based methods, they examine the notion of cultural memory in intercultural encounters, everyday experiences, and identity performances that evoke memories of colonial pasts, immigration processes and in some cases, memories of places and spaces that suggest or represent a cultural past that is shaped by power structures and different ideologies. Hence, they focus upon the link between space/place and cultural memory, memories of nationally, places constituted by markers of ethnicity, race, and sexuality, spaces and cultural experiences and identity performances and presentations that represent or embody intercultural conflicts, oppressions, struggles and memories that help to make sense of, deal with or reconcile with the past.

Storytelling emerges from the present relationship with representations of a particular past. Our publicly performed relationship with the past and the ways in which we tell stories of the past is negotiable and contestable. Who remembers what, and why? In juxtaposition, who or what is forgotten, and why? When and how is a consensual meaning achieved and maintained over time? When and how are meanings challenged and renegotiated?

←4 |

Borrowing from different critical intercultural frameworks, such as intercultural and transnational identity formations, feminist and queer theories, accommodation and acculturation theories and postcolonial theory, the authors of this collection collectively argue that as intercultural or transnational bodies, we remember cultural events and upbringing, performances, and conflicts, wars and peace negotiations in particular ways. Our cultural, ethnic, racial, and national backgrounds and ideological perspectives guide us to remember the past in a particular way. Hence, stories that we grow up with and stories that we tell about our past, influence how we remember the past, how we try to preserve it, or in some cases how we try to erase it. Furthermore, the ways in which we experience and make sense of politically, culturally, and emotionally charged spaces and places that either represent the past or narrate the past in particular ways are infused with and influenced by our intercultural experiences and ideological standpoints in relation to these cultural spaces and places. Hence, the way in which we remember the past, and narrate the past is an intercultural performance, act, encounter and representation.

Cultural Memory and Sensemaking

This book examines different ways of remembering the past through commemorative sites and events as locations for the negotiation and contestation of shared individual and collective narratives. We argue that cultural memory is preserved and represented through commemorative and commercial sites, visual and oral stories, and performances. Hence, how we remember is always a cultural negotiation between individuals and between individuals and society. Therefore, storytelling and cultural representations of the past through use of space and places play a paramount role in remembering the past. Stories and visual representations (built environments, film and media representations, and performances) play an important role as we construct a sense of reality, make sense of our everyday lives, and remember the past. As human beings, we use oral, written, and visual stories to communicate, express our ideas, narrate our experiences, and present our identities. Walter Fisher (1989) argues that we use stories to make sense of our lives and lived experiences.

←5 |

While some of the chapters employ ethnographic research and rhetorical analysis, some of them feature personal stories to examine memorial sites, film and visual texts, or lived experiences to understand how the commemorations, memory and storytelling work as inter/cultural performance and function as cultural memory. The commemorative sites and events, cultural, political and personal stories analyzed in this book emphasize how the meaning making process of historical events and the ways in which they are represented in media are not always consensual but instead are often contested and potentially reproduces the original struggle. When put in the regional, global, and intercultural contexts, the performance of cultural memory reveals the conflicted nature of personal and collective narratives.

Chapter Summaries

The book is divided into two sections: Cultural Memories of Places and Spaces, and Cultural Memory, Identity Politics and Intersectionality. In the first section, the authors examine different spaces and places that evoke memory of the cultural past, how the past is articulated or how it is performed or enacted. In the second section, authors use visual texts or everyday practices to analyze the links between intersectional aspects of cultural identity and memory.

Peter Ehrenhaus and A. Susan Owen’s chapter, titled “Constructing Coalition at the Moore’s Ford Lynching Reenactment: Fractures and Alliances between Communities of Memory” reflects on the past and the memory of the race relationships in the U.S. by focusing on Ford lynching reenactment. This chapter reminds us that the memory of the past is always present, especially now when as a society we are trying to grapple with issues pertaining to race and discrimination. Ehrenhaus and Owen are also concerned with the constant cultural tensions between remembering and forgetting and how to negotiate some of these frictions.

“(Be)Coming Home: Transformative Places and Koreamerican Identity in Itaewon, South Korea” (Eun Young Lee and Alberto González) explores how place and memory intersect as Koreamericans work to gain cultural citizenship in Seoul, South Korea. The chapter focuses on two Tex-Mex-themed restaurants founded by Koreamericans who have returned to the Itaewon district of Seoul, Coreanos and Vatos. The restaurants are constructed as intercultural places where the memories of the Korean homeland are invoked alongside the memories of the U.S. Southwest. The authors argue that Koreamericans uniquely valorize and disrupt the ontology of Han minjok (one Korean identity) through the transformative discursive and material rhetorics performed in Tex-Mex food restaurants.

←6 |

In their chapter, “When ‘Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Square’ (un)became ‘Liberty Square’: A Case of Contested Public Memories in Taiwan,” Yea-Wen Chen and Chunyu Zhang examine divided public memories about Taiwan’s first president, Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975). In particular, they focus on shifting, evolving, and contested public discourses surrounding Chiang Kaishek Memorial Hall (CKSMH) over time. They conclude by arguing for a need to put the public back in “public” memory in that consensus building and honoring peoples’ lived stories are key in the healing process of (re)writing public memory about controversial public figures.

“Remembering Communism: The Site of Witness and Memory and the House of Leaves Museums in Albania” (Nina Gjoci) investigates the role that places of memory play in the rhetorical constructions of the communist past in Albania. The analysis focuses on two museums: The Site of Witness and Memory museum in Shkoder and the House of Leaves museum in Tirana, capital of Albania. Gjoci argues that the different constructions of the communist past at these museums demonstrate the difficulty of staging public representations of oppressive regimes and they reveal the ambiguity of Albania’s reconciliation with its communist past.

In “(Mis)Remembering Stonewall: Narrative Authority and the American Monomyth in Queer Public Memory,” Kathryn Hobson, Bernadette Marie Calafell, and Spencer B. Margulies take an intersectional approach to examine Ronald Emmerich’s film Stonewall (2015). While the film tries to spotlight the LGBTQA+ struggles during the late 1960s by focusing on the Stonewall riots, how the film decided to remember the past is geared towards white mainstream U.S.-American audiences. In their chapter, Hobson, Calafell, and Margulies focus on the absence of “radical queer and trans people of color” from the Emmerich’s film. Hence, they argue that the film ignores and also erases certain individuals and their complex queer identities from the historical event. In a way, the way it is remembered, erases the present of certain bodies and their significance from our collective queer cultural memory.

Shinsuke Eguchi’s chapter, “Queer Fantasy: A Memory of Michael Sam’s Big Gay Kiss,” critiques “the performative rhetoric of queerness” by focusing on Michael Sam’s kiss. As Eguchi reflects on the mediated memory of this significant event, because it was the first publicly televised kiss by an openly queer NLF football player, he examines racism, sexism and homophobia surrounding the discourse of this significant queer moment. Hence, he offers culturally significant alternative readings of the memory of this kiss to challenge and resist cisheteronormativity.

In “Diasporic Memories: Place, Space and Home,” Ahmet Atay uses autoethnographic writing to articulate how the notion of memory and home works for diasporic individuals. In his chapter, Atay focuses on the role of photographs as a visual memory in diasporic experiences. He uses three interrelated stories from three different time periods to embody and represent diasporic memory. In doing so, he also theorizes how visual representations, such as photographs or stories that diasporic individuals share create as a sense of belonging. Thus, he theorizes diasporic memory through storytelling.


VI, 192
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. VI, 192 pp., 9 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Ahmet Atay (Volume editor) Yea-Wen Chen (Volume editor) Alberto González (Volume editor)

Ahmet Atay (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale) is Associate Professor of Communication at the College of Wooster. He is the author of Globalization’s Impact on Identity Formation: Queer Diasporic Males in Cyberspace (2015) and the co-editor of 11 books, including Queer Communication Pedagogy. His scholarship has appeared in numerous journals and edited books. Yea-Wen Chen (Ph.D., University of New Mexico) is Associate Professor in the School of Communication at San Diego State University. Dr. Chen has published over 40 works in Communication Monographs, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. Also, she has co-edited Our Voices: Essays in Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication, 6th Edition (2015). Alberto González (Ph.D., The Ohio State University) is Distinguished University Professor in the School of Media and Communication at Bowling Green State University. He is a co-editor of The Rhetorical Legacy of Wangari Maathai: Planting the Future (2018) and Our Voices: Essays in Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication, 6th Edition (2015).


Title: Intercultural Memories
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
200 pages