Introduction

This is a blog about intercultural communication as I experience it living and working in Melbourne, Australia. Not sure yet exactly what that means but I have stories to tell…and maybe somebody out there will enjoy reading them. I also hope to get a few comments here and there…

First, though, I have to introduce my professional self. My commitment to subjectivity means that you have to know who I am before you can have access to what I think.

I’m a sociocultural anthropologist by training – did my MA and PhD at the University of Rochester in the early to mid-1990s. I did my dissertation fieldwork in Szeged, Hungary, and focused on the construction of post-socialist Hungarian national identities. If you’re interested in this early work, my first book, The Danger is Everywhere! The Insecurity of Transition in Postsocialist Hungary, was published by Waveland Press back in 2001. It’s out of print now but I’m sure there are a few used copies floating about. In fact, grabbing that URL, I just saw one online for US$.23 – a bargain at twice the price!

From Rochester I moved to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California to take up a tenure track position in Sociology/Anthropology and International Studies. I spent 10 fantastic years teaching there, most of them solely in the School of International Studies, where I designed and taught courses in anthropology, pre-departure, re-entry, international ethics, and the long 20th century. After promotion, tenure, and a sabbatical year in Australia it was time to follow my students into the unknown and see if I could survive outside the walls of a university.

For the past 8.5 years I have been doing more than just surviving in Melbourne, Australia, where, as a co-founder at Culture Works, I co-design and deliver professional development programs in intercultural communications. That means I spend my days with Australians from every walk of life, from social workers and nurses to government employees and bankers. Luckily, I still get to work with university students too, most of whom are setting off for a period of time studying overseas and/or returning to finish their degrees in Australia. I’ve learned heaps doing this work, which, luckily, also leaves time to write. If you’re curious, have a gander at the 3 books I’ve authored or co-authored during this time: G’Day Boss! Australian Culture and the Workplace, The Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, A Brief History of Australia. I don’t think any of them are as affordable as that first one but maybe your public library has them…

So that kind of brings me up to the present day. I don’t have a current book project going so have started this blog as a place to debrief and decompress, tell stories, hear about other people’s experiences, and just have fun with ideas. I hope you enjoy it! If you have a topic you want to read about, do let me know!! As I do with my weekly radio show, she says shamelessly plugging herself, I take requests…

Barb West

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