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Our Voices

Essays in Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication

Sixth edition

Alberto Gonzalez and Yea-Wen Chen

Publication Date - October 2015

ISBN: 9780190255237

368 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $124.99

A distinctive reader for the intercultural communication course featuring the actual voices of contributors writing from their own particular cultural setting


Our Voices: Essays in Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication examines intercultural communication through an array of cultural and personal perspectives, with each of its contributors writing a first-person account of his or her experiences in the real world. While most readers are collections of scholarly essays that describe intercultural communication, Our Voices presents short, student-oriented readings chosen with an eye toward engaging the reader. Collectively, the readings tackle the key areas of communication-rhetoric, mass communication, and interpersonal communication-using a uniquely expansive and humanist perspective that provides a voice to otherwise marginalized members of society. Praised by students for its abundance of short, first-person narratives, Our Voices traverses topics as diverse as queer identity, racial discourse, and codes of communication in nontraditional families.

New to this Edition

  • Five new chapters on:
  • o the influence of globalizing relationships on naming practices
  • o online cultural communities and user identity in social media
  • o the cultural and professional identities of the hearing impaired
  • o intercultural understanding between refugees and host communities
  • o immigrant women's experiences of intercultural parenting
  • A new editor, Yea-Wen Chen, who is a critical/interpretive intercultural communication scholar from Ohio University; her research focuses on the intersection of identity, relationship building, and social justice across local, national, and global contexts
  • New Previews to each Part provide a helpful reference and guide by identifying and defining the terms and perspectives used by the individual authors
  • Significantly revised Questions for Discussion facilitate classroom discussion and reflection and help students understand and articulate the perspective of an author who may be culturally different from them
  • Updated Supplementary Readings for each section to encourage additional exploration of the topics examined throughout the text


  • Brief, original essays teach students about particular cultures through the perspective of someone within that culture, promoting greater understanding of others
  • The essays place communication practices into specific cultural contexts
  • The breadth of the selections helps show the tremendous cultural diversity that exists even within ethnic, racial, and national categories

About the Author(s)

Alberto González (PhD, The Ohio State University) is professor and chair in the Department of Communication at Bowling Green State University. His research has appeared in various journals including Quarterly Journal of Speech, Southern Communication Journal, Communication Quarterly, Western Journal of Speech Communication, Intercultural Communication Studies, Women & Language, and Journal of Poverty.

Yea-Wen Chen (PhD, University of New Mexico) is assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. Her research addresses issues of cultural identities, ideologies, and social justice within intercultural relationships across local and global contexts. Her work appears in such journals as Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Howard Journal of Communications, and Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, and she also contributes invited book chapters and to online publications.

Previous Publication Date(s)

February 2011
April 2004
March 2000


"I especially appreciate the fact the fact that the articles are written by scholars with various cultural backgrounds. It provides credible accounts of individuals' cultural experiences...the major strength of the book as compared to others in the market is the unique angle and perspective provided by its first-hand, story-telling style." --Mei Zhong, San Diego State University

"I very much like the approach of this text. The attention to the voices of historically marginalized authors and the use of personal voice--rather than other approaches that have historically Othered and silenced us--are important in understanding the goals of this book."--Bernadette Calafell, University of Denver

"The realness of this text is its most distinctive feature. In it we read about the struggles, the successes, the challenges, the learning experiences, the joys, and the spiritual uplift and rejuvenation of the authors. The articles are not too long, either, which is a joy to students, but they provide enough material to get students thinking critically about issues." --Patreece Boone, St. Louis University

Table of Contents


    Alberto González and Yea-Wen Chen

    *Preview to Part I

    Part I: Naming Ourselves

    *1. "What's in a Name?" Shifting Meanings, Negotiating Identities, and Globalizing Relationships

    Yea-Wen Chen
    Chen identifies the cultural and global forces that influence naming in professional and family settings.

    *2. Growing Up Together: The Internet, Cultural Knowledge, and Thai Names
    Jenny Ungbha Korn
    Korn traces her growing understanding of and connection to her Thai heritage to the rise of the Internet and social media.

    3. Dis/orienting Identities: Asian Americans, History, and Intercultural Communication
    Thomas Nakayama
    Nakayama argues for the centrality of the Japanese American experience in the making of American culture and history.

    4. Osage Naming Ritual as a Form of Cultural Identity
    Steven B. Pratt, Merry C. Pratt, and Rozilyn Miller
    The authors describe how the centuries-old Osage naming ritual connects contemporary Osages to tribal identity.

    5. Names, Narratives, and the Evolution of Ethnic Identity
    Dolores V. Tanno
    Tanno describes how each ethnic self-reference communicates a story and how multiple stories provide significance to an American identity.

    *Preview to Part II

    Part II: Representing Cultural Knowledge in Interpersonal and Mediated Contexts

    *6. I Am Hearing Impaired: Negotiating Identity in a Hearing World
    John Parrish-Sprowl
    Parrish-Sprowl explains how a new cultural and professional identity is negotiated when he becomes hearing impaired.

    7. Sister-Friends: Reflections on Black Women's Communication in Intra- and Intercultural Friendships
    Nekita Huling, Creshema Murray, and Marsha Houston
    The authors explore the importance of co-creating safe spaces for speaking, using in-group language style, and social support in the construction of Black women's intracultural and intercultural friendships.

    8. The Rhetoric of La Familia among Mexican Americans
    Margarita Gangotena
    Gangotena uses the concept of la familia to explore Mexican American family communication.

    9. When Mississippi Chinese Talk
    Gwendolyn Gong
    Gong describes speech strategies used by Chinese from the Mississippi Delta.

    10. The Reason Why We Sing: Understanding Traditional African American Worship
    Janice D. Hamlet
    Hamlet explores how the rhetorical style of preachers in traditional black churches preserves the cultural identity of black communities.

    11. Latina/o Experiences with Mediated Communication
    Diana I. Ríos
    Ríos discusses the dual functions of mass media, online media and social media in Mexican American communities in Texas.

    12. "I Am Not Jamal": Asian Indians, Simplistic Perceptions, and the Model Minority Myth
    Pravin Rodrigues
    In the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, U.S. audiences view representations of contemporary India. Rodrigues examines these representations in light of his interpersonal relationships.

    13. Native American Culture and Communication Through Humor
    Charmaine Shutiva
    Shutiva challenges some of the stereotypes about Native Americans and discusses the role that humor plays in their culture.

    14. Statue or Statement? Racial Tensions in a 9/11 Memorial
    Teresa Nance and Anita Foeman
    Nance and Foeman examine how public opposition to a sculpture honoring New York City firefighters reveals the uneasy state of race relations in the United States.

    *Preview to Part III

    Part III: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender

    15. Women and Islam: A Muslim Feminist Perspective

    Hoda Al-Mutawah
    An interview with Al-Mutawah, who responds to questions posed by U.S. students.

    16. Jewish and/or Woman: Identity and Communicative Style
    Sheryl Perlmutter Bowen
    Bowen explores the particular intersection of her Jewish upbringing and the feminism she adopted as an adult.

    17. Tyler Perry: The (Self-Appointed) Savior of Black Womanhood
    Robin R. Means Coleman
    Tyler Perry's representations of African American women in recent films are critically examined.

    18. When Miss America Was Always White
    Navita Cummings James
    James reflects on the meaning of blackness and black womanhood through family stories and personal experiences.

    19. Black Queer Identity, Imaginative Rationality, and the Language of Home
    Charles I. Nero
    The meaning of home and community for African American gay men is explored through poetry, song lyrics, and feminist and gay/lesbian theory.

    20. Navigating the Third Space with Double Consciousness: South Asian Indian Women in the American Workplace
    Suchitra Shenoy-Packer
    Shenoy-Packer describes her attempts to become accepted in the U.S. workplace while balancing new and often conflicting categories of identity.

    21. Constructing U.S. American Jewish Male Identity
    David E. Weber
    Weber describes the tensions and challenges that occur when Jewish identity is marked as unusual.

    *Preview to Part IV

    Part IV: Celebrating Cultures

    22. Hispanic Heritage Month: Not for Members Only

    Alberto González and Jennifer Willis-Rivera
    González and Willis-Rivera examine the rhetorical opportunities and challenges that accompany annual ethnic celebrations.

    23. Communicating Good Luck During the Chinese New Year
    Mary Fong
    Fong discusses good luck expressed through speech and gift-giving practices that display goodwill and affection.

    24. Hybrid Revivals: Ethnicity and South Asian Celebration
    Radha S. Hegde
    Hegde describes how Hindu festivals inspire their participants despite outside efforts to limit "foreign" cultural gatherings.

    *Preview to Part V

    Part V: Valuing and Contesting Languages

    25. Identity and Struggle in Jamaican Talk

    Dexter B. Gordon
    Gordon describes the creative "survival mechanisms" in Jamaican talk that privilege the local and counter the colonial.

    26. The Power of Wastah in Lebanese Speech
    Mahboub Hashem
    Hashem examines wastah as an effective Lebanese method of mediating conflicts and relationships.

    27. Broadening the View of Black Language Use: Toward a Better Understanding of Words and Worlds
    Karla D. Scott
    Scott examines misconceptions about black language use and explains how local ways of speaking are markers of identity and solidarity.

    28. Confessions of a Thirty-Something Hip-Hop (Old) Head
    Eric King Watts
    Watts interprets the tensions that arise when popular culture takes the "N-word" from private in-house dialogues and distributes it in the easy-to-open package of hip-hop.

    *Preview to Part VI

    Part VI: Living in Bicultural Relationships

    29. Sapphire and Sappho: Allies in Authenticity

    Brenda J. Allen
    Allen describes her interracial friendship with a lesbian colleague and how the two overcame sanctions against such a relationship.

    30. Creating a Family Across Race and Gender Borders
    Marlene Fine and Fern Johnson
    As white mothers of two adopted African American boys, Fine and Johnson examine the communication codes operating in the creation of their multiracial and "nontraditional" family.

    31. "I Know It Was the Blood": Defining the Biracial Self in a Euro-American Society
    Tina M. Harris
    In exploring the biracial identities of her students, Harris comes to appreciate her own biracial heritage.

    32. Struggling for Identity: Multiethnic and Biracial Individuals in America
    Mona Freeman Leonard
    Leonard reveals how social intolerance of racial ambiguity poses dilemmas and interpersonal challenges for multiethnic individuals.

    *Preview to Part VII

    Part VII: Intersecting Identities of Class and Culture

    33. Invisible Identities: Notes on Class and Race

    David Engen
    Engen invites readers to consider the ways in which America's working class can and should be considered a cultural community.

    34. Home as Respite for the Working-Class Academic
    Katherine G. Hendrix
    Hendrix traces her journey from her "working poor" upbringing to "affluent class" lifestyle.

    35. More Than White: Locating an Invisible Class Identity
    Brandi Lawless
    Lawless explores the construction of "lower class" white identity in her personal and academic experiences.

    36. Working Through Identity: Understanding Class in the Context of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender
    Kathleen Wong(Lau)
    Wong(Lau) interprets the intertwining aspects of race, gender, and class as she recounts her coming of age in both Chinese immigrant and American university settings.

    *Preview to Part VIII

    Part VIII: Traversing Cultural Paths

    *37. Deconstructing the Refugee Body: Toward an Intercultural Understanding of Refugee and Host Communities
    Eddah Mbula Mutua
    Based on her extensive work with refugee communities in Africa and in the U.S., Mbula Mutua explores the question: How do we begin to understand the interactions between refugee and host communities?

    *38. Parenting in a Foreign Land: Experiences of Recent Chinese Immigrant Women
    Qi Tang
    Tang reveals the complex balance of considerations faced by a small group of Chinese mothers in the U.S. South as they raise Chinese American children.

    39. Temporally Legal: My Traveling Across Borders of Im/migration
    Hsin-I Cheng
    Cheng describes the process of "documenting" transnational workers.

    40. Women Writing Borders, Borders Writing Women: Immigration, Assimilation and the Politics of Speaking
    Aimee Carrillo Rowe
    Carrillo Rowe deconstructs immigration politics as she examines her family's migratory history.

    41. The Cultural Experience of Space and Body: A Reading of Latin American and Anglo-American Comportment in Public
    Elizabeth Lozano
    Lozano discusses assumptions about "public space" in Anglo-American and Latin American cultures.

    42. Regionalism and Communication: Voices from the Chinese Diaspora
    Casey Man Kong Lum
    Lum discusses regional differences among Chinese communities in New York City and how ethnic identity is maintained.

    43. Notes from the "War Generation": Lebanon and the 33 Days War
    Souhad Kahil
    Growing up during the occupation of South Lebanon, Kahil experiences the "Thirty-Three Day War" between Hezbollah and Israel.

    *Appendix A: Suggested Questions for Discussion

    *Appendix B: Supplementary Reading

    *Appendix C: About the Contributors

    * New or revised for this edition.

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