Hybridity and Heterogeneity:
The Balance of Interpretation


Guido Ipsen

Professor for Scientific Communication

University of Dortmund

Faculty 15, Cultural Studies

Emil-Figge-Str. 50

D-44221 Dortmund




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The hybrid aspect of cultures has been on the agenda of cultural and social studies as well as the arts for several years. From the perspective of the semiotician, cultures will necessarily be in continuous contact with a minimum of neighbours in order to enhance cultural semiosis, i.e., to make innovation and change possible. Otherwise, isolation would be in effect and limit a culture to its own resources. The utter failure of all isolationist historical examples illustrates this. Peircean semiotic theory provides a basis for analysis of cultural exchange. The semiosic interface making sign exchange possible is generated actively in any peaceful or hostile contact situation. This paper, arguing that cultural interfacing is the key to the understanding of cultural evolution, utilises the concepts of pragmatism and aims at communicating the importance of semiotic theory for understanding any transcultural dynamics.

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