We encounter „them“ every day often unaware of „their“ constructed nature which results from our cultural standards and the perception of ourselves. Preconceptions of the Other are chiefly articulated through stereotypes. For sociologists stereotypes can initially assist in coming to terms with a complex world. Then they might serve as a first key to access the previously unknown. In intercultural communication their value is defined by their potential of either opening new vistas of other cultures or impeding them. In short, stereotypes are ambivalent and ambiguous and contribute to shaping identities.
At worst, auto- and hetero-stereotypes have left their traces on cultural relations between European countries, between European and Non-European countries or within allegedly homogeneous cultures as in the United Kingdom. Though ultimately not the cause of wars, stereotypes helped pave the way to open (World War I and II) and concealed warfare (Cold War) or genocide and racism. But even if not taken to the extremes, stereotypes seem to live a life of their own against all the odds of rational knowledge.
The book seeks to examine the constructedness of stereotypes from the angles of many disciplines. Sub-divided into the four broad categories of “Seeing and Perceiving” (Cultural Studies), “Reading and Writing” (Literature), “Speaking and Interacting” (Linguistics) and “Learning and Teaching” (Didactics) thirty-seven contributors on nearly 700 pages research the construction sites of stereotypes and cultural identities.
Selected contributions in the Cultural Studies section are: “The Stereotype as an Element of Modernity”; “Stereotypes and Invectives in British and German Political Cartoons of World War II”; “Towards Racially Diverse Society: Overcoming Stereotypes of Racially Mixed Japanese”.
In the Literature section: “Valences of `You´: Love Lyrics by Morgan, MacLean, Cernuda and Tsvetaeva”; “Natives and Aliens: Jewish New York in the Eyes of Early Twentieth Century American Writers”; “Race, Gender, Social Violence and War in David Rabe´s Vietnam Plays”.
In the Linguistic section: “Othering with (Im)Politeness”; “Otherness in Translation: The Language of the Alien”; “Accommodating and Othering `The Post-Communist Bit of Europe´: A Critical Discourse Perspective on Representations of New Europeans”.
In the Didactics section: “On the Nature and Function of Stereotypes in Intercultural Learning”; “The Importance of Being Native: The English Invasion of the Polish Education System – A Balance of Losses and Gains”; “Us and Them – We are what we speak…”.