Decolonizing Communication Ethics

A Framework for Communicating Otherwise

Authored by: Debashish Munshi , Kirsten J. Broadfoot , Linda Tuhiwai Smith

The Handbook of Communication Ethics

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  January  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415994644
eBook ISBN: 9780203890400
Adobe ISBN: 9781135846671


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Communication ethics are always already historically, materially, politically, socially situated and yet the universalizing framework through which they are often constructed is still overwhelmingly Western (Rao & Wasserman, 2007). This largely Western framework is, in some ways, a legacy of communication theory itself which is ‘limited by Eurocentric cultural assumptions’ (Craig, 2007, p. 256). Our aim in this chapter is to decolonize communication ethics by arguing that Western Enlightenment notions of rationality, justice, and humanity are not necessarily transferable to other contexts and times in their totality without an engagement with issues of social injustice that arise from the ideological, intellectual, and imperial domination of Western thought and theory. Drawing insight from scholars from Asian (e.g. Miike, 2007) and American Indian (Covarrubias, 2007) backgrounds who have sought to ‘provincialize communication theory as a Eurocentric field’ (Miike, 2007, p. 277), we argue that communication ethics too is largely guided by Western contexts.

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