Intercultural Communication

Jan 5, 2019

Credit SAGE Publications

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we’ll be talking with Dr. Avinash Thombre, a communication professor in the Department of Applied Communication, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Ramesh N. Rao, professor of communications at Columbus State University in Georgia.

Their book Intercultural Communication The Indian Context, published by Sage Publications, introduces us to the challenges of, and opportunities for, communicating across a myriad verbal and non-verbal differences in India. 

“India is a multifaceted, multicultural nation . . . The second most populous country in the world and the world's largest democracy, the birthplace of four world religions, whose people speak hundreds of languages and many more dialects of those languages making it really a tower of Babel.”

The book interrogates the historical, cultural, and cosmological contexts of communication in India-- a diverse and linguistically complex society.  Their work provides a framework for understanding identity formation and alleviating cultural conflicts among nations.

"As we know cultures are not homogeneous. There are internal paradoxes, differences, and contradictions in all cultures. Imagine what Indian culture means to you."
Professor of Communication, Ramish N. Rao

Ramesh Rao is a professor in the Department of Communication, Columbus State University. He arrived in the US in 1985, and has taught for more than three decades, starting in 1987 at Michigan State University where he earned a PhD.

Author of a small handful of books on Indian politics and society, as well as the book on intercultural communication with Avinash Thombre, he has also written numerous op-eds and commentaries for American, Indian, and British newspapers and magazines.

An avid tennis fan, and lover of South Indian classical music, he now worries for the state of human affairs in the age of social media. He lives in Fortson, GA, with wife Sujaya, and son, Sudhanva.

Professor Avinash Thombre

Prof. Avinash Thombre has taught at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock since 2004. His research and teaching areas are in health communication, intercultural communication, health-related transformative experiences and entertainment education.

He has published several peer-reviewed scholarly articles, book chapters, and technical reports. Thombre received his B.Sc. and M.S in Communication (Bangalore University, India), and a Ph.D. degree from the University of New Mexico.

Thombre critically studies communicative behavior with the goal of understanding the structure, patterns, and effects of human communication and of facilitating a higher quality of communication both for individuals and society.

Trigun Maroo performing in the A&L studio at KUAR.
Credit M. E. Kubit

His recent scholarly work is in the area of intercultural communication, particularly examining the hybrid cultural identity. 

Thank you to musicians, singers and songwriters The Rad Trads, and a special thanks to scholar and musician, Trigun Maroo, who created and performed the musical score.

Listen to the song "Thumbtack" by The Rad Trads: 

Listen to a light Indian classical composition based on Raag Bhairavi by Trigun Maroo:

The Rad Trads: Michael Fatum, Michael Harlen, Patrick Sargent, John Fonseca Fatum, John Carges and Alden Harris-McCoy.
Credit Photo by John Carges

Thank you to Akilia Thirumalareddy and Amar Kanekar for the sage advice. Thank you to Michael Hibblen for recording the episode and without whose efforts this episode would not have been possible.

Thank you to Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Executive Producer & Host:  J. Bradley Minnick

Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit


Recorded by: Michael Hibblen