[URBANTH-L]REVIEW: Santamaria on Tanka, _The Intercultural Campus_

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Tue Nov 23 13:11:51 EST 2004

[Editor's note:  The author of the book which is reviewed below, Greg Tanka
<gtanaka at pacificoaks.edu>, is an anthropologist teaching at Pacific Oaks
College in California, and a member of SUNTA. -AJ]

The Intercultural Campus: Transcending Culture & Power in American Higher
Education. Greg Tanaka. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2003, ISBN:
0820441503, 217 pp.

Reviewed by Lorri Santamaría <lsamtama at csusm.edu>, California State
University, San Marcos

In his most recent contribution to education related discourse on ethnicity,
culture, and power in the United States, Greg Tanaka departs from
traditional notions of multiculturalism and instead proposes the beginnings
of an intercultural movement initiated by college and university campuses.
The author asserts that as a nation post 9/11, Americans have come to
realize we are not prepared to comprehend, process, or manage our country's
internal racial and ethnic diversity.  One result of this reality, he
continues, is our inability to know our real purpose and place in history,
which Tanaka proposes can be achieved by placing leadership responsibility
and diversity centered reparation in the hands of academia.  This
comprehensive review presents the author's theoretical perspective,
methodology, and a model for moving toward intercultural institutions of
higher learning, including a brief critique on the notion of model building,
and audience recommendations.

Whether or not intended by Tanaka, critical theory perspectives are
interwoven throughout this volume, especially those of educational critical
race theory (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1998; Ladson-Billings
and Tate, 1995) and multiculturalism (Banks, 2004; King, 1994).   Like the
Japanese American author's description of his disappointment in being
blatantly discouraged and unsupported in his interest in multiculturalism by
an advising faculty member during his first year of graduate school,
critical race theory names and discusses the daily realities of racism
(Ladson-Billings, 1998).  Both Tanaka and critical race theorists agree on
promoting voices of people of color by the use of storytelling, which the
author uses as backdrop for each of the studies presented in this book.
Along these lines, Gloria Ladson-Billings likens storytelling to naming a
person's reality, providing "psychic preservation of marginalized groups,"
and "medicine to heal the wounds of pain caused by racial oppression" (1998,
p. 14).  In terms of multiculturalism, Tanaka expands its spirit of social
justice and equity and encourages building on these strengths to promote
learning and sharing across difference where no single culture dominates.

Tanaka departs from critical race theory and multiculturalism, however, with
study findings that render these approaches as encouraging fragmentation of
college and university campus communities, overlooking needs of white
students, and reproducing oppressor/ oppressed relationships.  He suggests
binary and oppositional approaches and language describing diversity, often
used in both
critical race and multicultural theory, as being passé and responsible for
paralysis in America's movement toward a more peaceful co-existence with its
citizens and the world.  Further, in providing theoretical perspective the
author introduces a framework for individual agency which he calls
"subjectivity." This framework includes transforming diversity oriented
language from group descriptors (e.g., race, culture) to refer to individual
subjects; the notion that individuals can be considered as "complementary"
to the growth and development of individuals; changing the rationale for
social change to interconnectiveness and soul creation; the use of
alternative storytelling; and the view of schools as parallel places (as
opposed to hierarchical constructs).  Therefore, theoretically speaking,
Tanaka argues for a transcendence or refinement of critical race and
multicultural theories.  He posits alternatively the consideration of
schools, primarily colleges and universities, as physical, social, and
psychological intercultural spaces where healing dialogue between and among
diverse members of the learning community is a central activity.

To illustrate his point Tanaka presents three research studies conducted at
different colleges and universities over a period of eight years.  Each
investigation serves as impetus for inclusion of the next, and in this way
each builds upon the others and contributes to the evolution of the final
study.  The first inquiry is a case study of the first U.S. college to
attempt to become completely multicultural (e.g., student affairs, core
curriculum, faculty hiring).  Although findings reveal participant feelings
of empowerment rooted in giving voice to historically silenced groups, this
initiative proved to have numerous limitations and brought to surface some
of the shortcomings of multiculturalism.  Limitations include perceived
community fragmentation, white students feeling overlooked, and
reinforcement of oppressed/ oppressor relations among community members.
Further substantiating these findings, the second study, which was
quantitative and included 25,000 students at 159 U.S. colleges and
universities, found that "when white students participate in cross-cultural
academic and social experiences on their campuses, they experience gains in
important measures, including overall satisfaction with the college" (p. 3).
Unfortunately, this same study reveals that the presence of faculty and
students of color has "a negative impact on sense of community among
students and faculty as perceived by white students" (p. 91).  This could
be, according to Tanaka, a manifestation  that "whiteness has associated
with it internalized and unexamined privileges that grant people who are
white positions of social superiority over people of color" (p. 107).  The
author's well founded assumption is corroborated by work on theories of
"whiteness" by many researchers (i.e., hooks, 1992; McIntosh, 1989; West,

Among the difficult issues addressed by Tanaka, including the limitations of
multiculturalism and disenfranchised white community members, the third and
final study features Tanaka sharing his story of How to Build an
Intercultural Campus using "intercultural storytelling" within the context
of a mid-sized Jesuit university in Southern California over a period of
four years.  The author admits, based on the findings presented in the two
previous studies that building such a campus would be a challenging but
necessary undertaking.  This last study provides a step-by-step experiential
attempt at transformation of a traditional Catholic university into an
intercultural learning institution by
"introducing intercultural practices into all its major functions" (p. 126).
The plan included staff intercultural training, a student certificate
program in intercultural competency, minority faculty hiring, curriculum
development workshops in teaching diverse classrooms, and ongoing
assessment.  Results reveal the most successful initiatives were staff
intercultural training and student intercultural training followed by
minority faculty hiring, curricular and pedagogical changes, and assessment
resulting in the identification of barriers to building a successful
intercultural campus.  The study also encouraged and supported many
discussions of culture, power, and interdependence.  Results from the study
eventually take Tanaka from critique to the creation of a new model for
approaching diversity in the 21st century.  Results also suggest the
transcendence of culture and power by way of "parallel systems" as opposed
to dominant and oppressed groups of people on U.S college and university

Interdependence and collaboration are common themes in progressive circles
where such constructs as race, ethnicity, culture, and power are salient and
where a greater sense of harmony is idealized.  Greg Tanaka redefines
storytelling as a means to bring greater meaning to theoretical conjecturing
by groups of people projected onto others, and makes use of storytelling
instead as "a medium of exchange for all participants---those from
marginalized groups and those who had been 'privileged,'" wherein the work
at this university could "signal a turning point in U.S. higher education
and a transition to a storytelling pedagogy" (p. 156).  The author also
suggests a new epistemology in terms of the future, as when participants are
asked what they might hope for, and an emphasis on dreaming emerges.  This
Tanaka posits, complements storytelling in that:

Beyond promoting a sense of race harmony, there was for all participants an
increased personal connection to the past, a more direct rootedness to
place, and an incipient interconnectiveness with each other in dreaming of a
new social place (p. 155).

Readers of this potentially pivotal book will be motivated to examine their
institutions of higher learning for opportunities to participate in their
own versions of "anticipatory action research" where participants "examine
how power operates in historical context for different groups" (p. 158).
What they won't find, however, is a guide showing them How to Build an
Intercultural Campus.  Instead, college and university leaders, students,
faculty, staff, and administration will learn what occurred when Greg Tanaka
tried to do so, and five components for future research that determines to
build upon his and his university's experience.  These five components
include: (1) small group storytelling about past and place, (2) examining
how power operates, (3) envisioning or dreaming about a new social
arrangement, (4) actual model building in anticipation of wider changes in
society, and (5) greater personal connection to place, memory, and ritual.

The manuscript ends with a hopeful description of culture and power
relations following the pivotal September 11 bombings.  Tanaka's final
sentence reads:

In an increasingly diverse U.S., being intercultural will mean taking the
time and effort to acquire new  habits of storytelling, interdependence, and
model building that will likely redefine 'the idea' of America (p. 194).

Many examples of storytelling are interspersed throughout this book, some
examples of interdependence are provided, and an attempt at model building
is shared.  Greg Tanaka falls short of his own suggestion in regard to model
building, but makes a strong attempt at forging a clear path and pioneering
a new effort for emerging interculturalists on U.S. college and university
campuses and beyond.  His effort, therefore, should be commended and read by
all who wish to make our country and world a better place to live, dream,
and realize now and in the future.


Banks, J. A. (2004). Multicultural education: Characteristics and goals.  In
J. A. Banks &
C. A. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives, Fifth
Edition, (pp. 3-30). New York: Wiley/Jossey Bass.

hooks, b. (1992). Representing whiteness in the black imagination. In L.
Grosberg, C.
Nelson, and P. Tiechler (Eds.), Cultural studies, (pp. 165-78). New York:

King, J. (1994). The purpose of schooling for African American children:
cultural knowledge. In E. R. Hollins, J. E. King, and W. C. Hayman (Eds.),
Teaching diverse populations: Formulating a knowledge base, (pp. 25-66). New
York: SUNY Press.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2000). Racialized discourses and ethnic epistemologies.
In N.
Denzin and Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research, Second
Edition, (pp. 257-278). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

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