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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World


Edited By Clifford G. Christians and Kaarle Nordenstreng

This volume is an up-to-date account of communication theories from around the world.
Authored by a group of eminent scholars, each chapter is a history and state-of-the-art description of the major issues in international communication theory.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each multicultural context.
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15 Struggle, Vatican II, and Development Communication Practice



This chapter examines the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) theology as the implicit background to Robert White’s studies on development communication. We will then examine White’s influence on the Center for Communication, Media and Society’s graduate program in development communication.

In 1988, two years before the end of apartheid, Keyan, Bob White, Michael Traber, and others were at a Missio workshop on grassroots communication in Lusaka, Zambia. They were witness to a car bombing of African National Congress cadres in the hotel’s parking lot. This event underlined Keyan’s own presentation on the use of video in anti-apartheid cultural resistance in a black Durban township. During the same week he received distressing news of the assassination of one of the community organizers with whom he and his students had been working (O’Connell, 1989, p. 2; Group Media Journal, 1989, p. 15).

The point is that Missio, the World Association for Christian Communication, and its collaborators were always in the thick of things, testing theory and practice to the limit, taking on the enemies of democracy, and writing from the noisy smoke- and fire-filled coalface. As Missio’s Klaus Müller (1989) observed, “Brutal reality has caught up with us and provided clear evidence that concrete, active grassroots communication is never risk free” (p. 2). That is why theory emerging from such conditions is at the cutting edge, and why it takes on direct resonance with ordinary people, communities of struggle, and others who daily confront poverty,...

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