Breach of contact: an intercultural reading of China Mieville's The City and the City

Hanna, Barbara Elizabeth and Cowley, Peter (2014) Breach of contact: an intercultural reading of China Mieville's The City and the City. PORTAL: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, 11 2: . doi:10.5130/portal.v11i2.3204

Author Hanna, Barbara Elizabeth
Cowley, Peter
Title Breach of contact: an intercultural reading of China Mieville's The City and the City
Journal name PORTAL: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1449-2490
Publication date 2014-07-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.5130/portal.v11i2.3204
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 11
Issue 2
Total pages 23
Place of publication Sydney, NSW, Australia
Publisher University of Technology, Sydney * UTSePress
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract China Miéville’s 2009 'Weird' detective novel The City and The City is a tale of two city states, culturally distinct, between which unpoliced contact is forbidden. While residents of each city can learn about the other’s history, geography, politics, see photographs and watch news footage of the other city, relations between the two are tightly monitored and any direct contact requires a series of protocols, some of which might seem reasonable, or at least familiar: entry permits, international mail, international dialing codes, intercultural training courses. What complicates these apparently banal measures is the relative positioning of the two cities, each one around, within, amongst the other. The two populations live side by side, under a regime which requires ostentatious and systematic disregard or 'unnoticing' of the other in any context but a tightly regulated set of encounters. For all that interculturality is endemic to everyday life in the 21st century, what is striking is that critical and popular uptake of this novel so frequently decries the undesirability, the immorality even, of the cultural separation between the two populations, framing it as an allegory of unjust division within a single culture, and thus by implication endorsing the erasure of intercultural difference. We propose an alternative reading which sees this novel as exploring the management of intercultural encounters, and staging the irreducibility of intercultural difference. We examine how the intercultural is established in the novel, and ask how it compares to its representations in prevalent theoretical models, specifically that of the Third Place.
Keyword Interculturality
Third place
Language and culture teaching
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
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Created: Wed, 25 Mar 2015, 09:50:07 EST by Ms Katrina Hume on behalf of School of Languages and Cultures