Ahmet Atay, professor of communication studies and chair of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Global Media and Digital Studies, and Film Studies programs at The College of Wooster, is the lead co-editor of two books published in 2020 that contribute to intercultural communication research and highlight historically marginalized perspectives in the field.
Connections and Inclusions: Intercultural Communication in Communications Studies was published by Routledge and co-edited by Alberto Gonzalez. The book highlights intercultural communications research in the Midwest and features work from scholars from the region which is often overlooked. “Connections and Inclusions emerged as a project to make an argument that intercultural communication research and scholars who work in this area have been in the region and are also productive,” Atay said. “We wanted to acknowledge the history and also include the voices of key and influential scholars in the area.”
Atay coauthored an essay that appears in Connections and Inclusions with Satoshi Toyosaki called “Crossing Paths: Intercultural Collaborations” about the importance of intercultural collaborations and mentoring at national and regional conferences which serve as lifelines for scholars working in smaller towns. “Connections and Inclusions was a much-needed project to highlight intercultural communication in our region because one of the arguments has been that the Midwest is not a site for diversity and that intercultural communications as a field is struggling in our region to produce meaningful research,” Atay explained. “We wanted to debunk that idea.”
The second book that Atay published at the end of last year was Postcolonial Turn and Geopolitical Uncertainty: Transnational Critical Intercultural Communication Pedagogy, which was coedited by Yea-Wen Chen and put out by Lexington Books. The book employs postcolonial studies, which is what most of Atay’s research is focused on, to rethink intercultural communications pedagogy. Postcolonial studies examines the legacy of colonialism and imperialism and brings to the fore voices that were previously silenced or marginalized by the dominant, colonizing group.
The contributors to Postcolonial Turn and Geopolitical Uncertainty argue that educators in higher education must take a transnational approach when teaching about cultural issues to achieve more inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access in their classrooms. “Postcolonial Turn and Geopolitical Uncertainty really opens a new pathway in critical intercultural communications and pedagogy research and specifically asks for inclusion of historically marginalized voices, especially voices of transnational faculty, to be included in our work and curriculum,” Atay said. “It also pushes for meaningful decolonization of the curriculum.”
Atay contributed an essay to the book called “Transnational and Postcolonial Turn: Shift in Perspective.” “I argue that while we decolonize the curriculum and how we teach we must also take a transnational perspective,” he said. “This way we can empower historically marginalized voices and their work in our field.”
Atay hopes that these two books, which are both significant contributions to intercultural communications research but differ in scope, inspire tangible change in communication studies. “I hope these books and my other research create some type of positive change for our discipline and students who are reading these works,” he said. “I hope people can start to make smaller and meaningful impacts in their own ways, by revising their curriculum or by empowering historically marginalized individuals or international students and scholars in our immediate contexts.”