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The Edge: The E-Journal of Intercultural Relations, Summer 1998, Vol. 1(3)
Posted 10/11/98

On The Past and Future of 
Intercultural Relations Study
Gifts of Wisdom:
An Interview with
Dr. Edward T. Hall



Interviewed by
Kathryn Sorrells
Associate Editor, The Edge


It's another beautiful morning in New Mexico. As I swing onto I-25 headed north from Albuquerque, the brilliant sun is well over the Sandia Mountains to the east. I am on my way to Santa Fe where Edward T. Hall has lived for many years. The backbone of the Sandia's bows to the earth and the land opens up in expansive sweeps in the four directions. From mesa to mesa, the road to Santa Fe rises and descends as if the earth, herself, were breathing. The blue blanket of the sky offers a sense of infinite possibilities while the land and places-- Bernalillo, Santa Domingo Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo-- reflect the dynamics of conquest, resistance, domination and survival; the overlap and confluence of cultures that is New Mexico. Less than an hour later, I make my turn off the highway to Santa Fe. Soon I am in the midst of the old Plaza. I drive slowly past the Palace of the Governor, first occupied by the Spanish, then Mexicans and finally by Anglos, before becoming a museum. Indian artists are already arranging their work to sell to the tourist. Continuing along, I turn in and park at the home of Dr. Edward T. Hall.

I first met Dr. Hall at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication in Portland, Oregon about four years ago. Since then I have had the opportunity to take a class from him offered by the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. We spent many hours talking about the class, his work, my interests and work and through this, we have become friends. From the beginning, he has insisted that I call him Ned. This is just one indication of how accessible, gracious and unpretentious Ned is as a person and scholar. After the official UNM class ended, Ned came to my house once a month to continue meeting (and eating) with a small group of interculturalists. His passion and wisdom continues to inspire and guide us.

On the morning of the interview, Ned greets me at the door and ushers me upstairs to his office, a wonderful room lined with books and accented by landscape photographs and other works of art. Ned begins our conversation with a gift of wisdom gathered from his life-long observation, analysis and deep understanding of cultures and intercultural relations.


Hall: I spent years trying to figure out how to select people to go overseas. This is the secret. You have to know how to make a friend. And that is it!

Sorrells: Yes, how to connect.

Hall: If you can make friends and if you have a deep need to make friends, you will be successful. It's people who can make a friend, who have friends, who can do well overseas. Americans don't know much about friendship. It was very anxiety provoking for my students to make friends. This is why I gave my students the assignment to go out and make a friend with someone from another culture so they could find out what friendship was. Even the whole idea of friendship, of going out and making a friend was a difficult idea for them.

So, what are we talking about today?


Sorrells: We are doing a series of interviews with people who have made a significant impact on the field of intercultural relations. And of course, you are one of those people. We are particularly interested in your perspective on where we have come from and where we are going in terms of intercultural relations. We are thinking of intercultural relations quite broadly, including contributions from the fields of psychology, anthropology, and intercultural communication.

From our current standpoint of moving into the next millennium, how do you see the history of the development of intercultural relations? How do you see the field of intercultural relations starting?

Hall: The essence of what we are talking about has to do with the central question of what is culture. You can never get too far away from that.

And to get to your other question, it started for me by taking a course in anthropology. When I discovered anthropology, I had been doing it already, but I didn't know you could take it in school (chuckle). But when it became most real to me was when I was working as a foreman on the Hopi and Navajo reservations [in the 1930s, see West of the Thirties by Edward T. Hall]. So we had white people without even a high school education. We had Hopis and Navajos and Indian traders. Lorenzo [Hubbell, famous Indian trader] was tri-cultural. The smartest man on the reservation and one of the smartest people I have ever known. He had several posts and he really was the power behind everything that was going on there. Well, I was supposed to be a camp manager and there was really no way of getting them going. I mean, they just didn't know how. And someone had to set the tents up and things like that. So again it has to do with information. The camps were not being built. So I was finally visited by John Collier's people and they said, Collier's wants camps and if you have to carry the tents on your back, why, there's going to be camps! [John Collier was a sociologist and the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1933-1945).]

I knew the government was not going to do anything. I'd been on the reservation, oh I guess, a couple months by then. I knew that Lorenzo was the key to anything that was going to happen. So I went over to Oraibi [in Arizona], thirty-two miles away, and talked to him. Well, he questioned me deeply. Why do they need camps? I explained that when you are building a road, it makes sense to have camps. This road is only going to be a truck trail...about 9 feet wide. And only about 25 miles long. It can't take too long. See, what was really at stake was that we were going to be feeding the Indians. If we didn't feed them, they got an extra dollar a day to feed themselves. So that money would go to the traders. It was thousands of dollars we were talking about. Outside of this money coming into the reservation, there was practically no funding for Indian people.

Sorrells: So that was the critical point.

Hall: Yes, you see. I told Lorenzo how long this camp would go. Once the road was finished, there were alot of other things to be done. Well, within just a matter of days, I had the camp. It worked just like magic. He was the keystone. One not only needs to know the cultural side but also the political side. Power...who has the power? One has to know the information channels. They are almost like wires...who's controlling information? It's a structural thing. I have been studying what one might call meaning. Translating behavior as a form of meaning. Talking about it now, the way we have meaning is tied up with power. Messages, channels, slots and buttons. Is there a slot in the brain to receive the message? What buttons do we push and which ones do we avoid? This is a good breakdown because you have to examine it at each step. Is it the right message? Or the wrong one? Are we sending them the right message? What channel?

Sorrells: The channel you choose really influences the message.

Hall: Everything influences everything else. But if you say, OK, in order to reach so and so...for me, what I did was pick out Lorenzo. He was the channel to Washington. The official government channels were not working. Lorenzo was a Republican but Secretary Wallace [U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (1933-1940) and 33rd U.S. Vice-President] came out to consult with him on agricultural ideas. The political party was not what was important but rather who could get to whom.

Sorrells: Yes, access.

Hall: I was sure the government was not the right channel.

Sorrells: You have always used the word information. As when you describe high context, you say these cultures live in a sea of information. Can you make the distinction clear between information and meaning?

Hall: Well, I have a chart on that. Information is everywhere and everything, but the meaning is a very interesting thing. There is information transferred in and out which I will call "A". Plus there is information that is stored in the system that we will call "B". It takes these two to make meaning (see Figure 1). It takes both the information that is transferred in and out and the stored information, the information in the context, to make meaning. This is a very simple formula but it's one that is ignored all the time.

Sorrells: That's very helpful because it really gets at the person who is part of a culture who has the stored information, the memory ("B"). Another person who comes in from outside the culture doesn't have all of that, and therefore, can not make meaning in accordance with the culture.

Hall: That's right. So what you have to do is go from A to B. In other words, this is the context which you have to understand.

Sorrells: Did you start developing these models when you were working for Foreign Service Institute (FSI)?

Hall: Well, I started this when I started teaching because this is what I am. I found that talking about anthropology is not enough. I had to lock into what I was saying with what the students already had inside and what their interests were. And I started developing these models when I was teaching. The first one was more philosophical, I guess. That people, all human beings were having to deal with potentially hostile forces that are in society, in nature, and in themselves. And so then they will develop different strategies for what those forces are, how those forces are combined. Things that can hurt you or can help you are in these three areas.

Sorrells: Were you aware of [anthropologist] Florence Kluckhohn and the values orientation studies. Your questions sound similar in that they are trying to understanding the orientation of human beings to the world around them. Were you connected with Florence or Clyde Kluckhohn?

Hall: Clyde, I knew. I try to get my information from the data not make it up. And most of our social sciences build around making up theories and going out in the field to back them up.

Sorrells: I think that is one of the important things about your work. You go out and immerse yourself in the data.

Hall: You see [Edward] Sapir was the one who really started this. We went out, the Europeans went out and taught languages in terms of the European paradigms. And the American Indian's languages were so different. There was no way on God's green earth to fit these languages together with our European paradigms. So Sapir said in effect, you have to start out afresh every time. Get your information from the system not from some background data. This is a earth-shaking idea. It was so revolutionary. It still has not caught on. I don't know how many years it's been since then....seventy or eighty years. So, you are after the reality of the culture as defined by the people who share it. Not really anything else.

I got that on the Hopi reservation from Lorenzo Hubbell because he was having to do business with these people. And he was bi-cultural in Navajo and Spanish. And tri-cultural when you add the English part of it. So he was my first model. He set his stores up to deal with the Indians and Indian psychology rather than using a commercial model that was taught in some business school. Doing business with the Indians was entirely different from doing business with White people. Again, this is real. This is not something that was artificial or something that was made up in some business school or social science department, or anything else, this was real and it works.

So, when I was working with the Indians, part of my job was to motivate them to work because they were being paid by the government to build these dams or whatever, and if they didn't build them that money was being thrown away. They were better off with the water development, the springs and dams, than they were without them. Now mind you, there was a little footnote on that. The engineers picked the sites for the dams and the Indians knew that in some of those places, it didn't rain because of micro-climates. But the engineers didn't consult the Indians. But you see, again, you always have to get back to the people who know. That's very important and yet, we are so captivated by our own way of thinking. This is something that is universally human. We play out our own paradigms until we learn another. But this was not something that I learned in class. When I was on the reservation, figuring out how to work with the Hopis and the Navajos, this is where I found out they were entirely different. And that imposing my paradigm on others would not work.

Sorrells: Can you tell me a little bit about the writing of The Silent Language? That was such a seminal book.

Hall: Well, it started with something that was very real. There was concern among anthropologists, at the time, about what we were studying. That is, what is culture? And, there was a book that was written on all the different anthropologists' ideas about what was culture and they were all different.(1) I got together with (George) Trager. He was a very intelligent man, a linguist. I was very impressed with Sapir's approach to linguistics which is what Trager had and some of the other linguists had at FSI. Linguistics up until that time didn't really have a form. It was just a spin-off of the vernacular way of thinking about language and the European paradigms. So, Sapir had influenced the linguists at FSI very deeply and Trager was one of Sapir's students. I found that we could talk. What Sapir was doing was real. I have a real problem with things that are not real. And it worked.

Two points that are very important points to remember and ask: Is it real and does it work? The third point is that the information is in the people, not in your head. So it is up to you to find out what the information is. Anyway, Trager and I started talking about culture and I would go down every afternoon, in the middle of the afternoon, when we were done and had pretty much taken up what we needed to for our jobs, and we would talk about culture. And of course, we come up with the conclusion that culture was not one thing. That was a very important idea. So, what was it? And in the back of The Silent Language, I have a section in there that describes what essentially, according to our criteria, is culture. First, it had to be rooted in biology. There is no break with the past. Culture is not made up but something that evolves which is human. It had to be something which involves an entire system. And, even though it involves a whole system, you could break it down into parts and analyze it.

Sorrells: So it is holistic in that you can take a piece of it and it will represent the whole.

Hall: Yes, sure, right. So we came up with these rather rigid criteria for culture. I don't think anyone else had really done that. There have been definitions of culture but no one had sat down and said these are the basic criteria that we are going to follow.

Sorrells: Ned, do you think that you all recognized more than others, at the time, that you yourselves had a culture; that you, too, were acting from a cultural system? It was not just other so-called "primitive" or "tribal" people somewhere else who had culture.

Hall: Oh, my God, why, yes. You see this is what I got from working on the reservation. Here I was out there trying to explain to the Indians using an Aristotelian paradigm of logic, and it wasn't working. Not only that, it made them very anxious. So, I thought, well now, obviously, the way I am thinking is wrong. I mean it is not getting across. So that's when I talked to Lorenzo about it. He didn't explain it to me. He didn't give me an answer. Then, when I was walking out the door, he said, "Navajo's understand a bargain". That's all he said. So, I went back. My crews were not starting on time. Then I said, "Maybe you have been wondering what you were going to have to give in exchange for this work?". By then I knew that when Navajo's were wondering and puzzled about things, that this occupies their whole mind. You have to explain things to them. Again, you see there was always a contrast. With me and with other white people, why, we compartmentalize. But the Navajo's did not compartmentalize. When they had a problem, it occupied their whole mind. And it is one of the reasons why the Pueblos around here [New Mexico] are in awe of the Navajos mind. They are putting things together in different ways. They literally become obsessed. When they get on a problem, that takes everything.

Sorrells: One thing I find interesting is how unacknowledged the Navajos are. In the studies done in Ramah in the 1950s, one of the questions posed was: Could you learn from the Navajo. Many people said, "no".

Hall: That's a very good question to ask. If you feel like you can't learn something from a group of people, then you really better start looking at yourself. I used to have arguments when I was little with our maid, Consuela, who was a very intelligent women but she was trying to convert me. I would sit there and have arguments with her, "Now, you can't tell me, we have the only God in the whole world. You can't tell me that nobody else has God." Well, I knew this already. As North Europeans, what we are is single track. And for some reason or another, I have never had a single track mind. I don't know how to explain it except that I come out here to Santa Fe when I was five years old and went to kindergarten with Hispanics and lived in France a little bit later. So, I don't know what it is but anyway, I have always had that characteristic (of being interested in differences). So there's nothing wrong with other ways of thinking but they are different. So you see, these things came up very young for me. My family first went to El Paso when I was four. We hired a woman from Juarez who came over on the street car everyday. Then we took her and her daughter, two daughters, back to St. Louis. They did fine in Santa Fe but, oh, wow, when they got to St. Louis, they just couldn't take it. And again, you see, they could go to church, but everything was different. So why couldn't Maria and her daughters adjust in St. Louis. So there is this sort of thing constantly being introduced to me when I was a child. And I was fascinated by it.







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Sorrells: When The Silent Language came out, it became very popular with the general public. Was that one of your intentions?

Hall: Well, I didn't write it just for my colleagues. In other words, I wouldn't have known how to write it for my colleagues because that material in there is not theoretical material. But it had this other base, namely, that there are cultural systems. Culture is complex. It is made up of a number of different kinds of systems. And once you do that then you can analyze time, and you can analyze space which I later did. But trying to talk about the whole thing is just too complex. I had been explaining culture to these people for several years [at FSI] who were going overseas so I had a pretty good feeling for what people could understand. Of course, the people I was working with come from every conceivable discipline...doctors, engineers, and administrative types.

In essence, we were trying to make culture real. I did one thing. I didn't really see all of the implications of what I was doing, but it turned out to be the most successful thing that I did. That was that I turned Washington, DC. upside down and got to shake it until I got someone from the country to which everyone was going. I had it very structured at first but then I realized they would find out whatever they wanted to know. This idea of trying to structure people's question didn't work. Whatever they wanted to talk about they would talk about anyway. The main thing was they made a friend of this person from the country where they were going and this friend inevitably had relatives. They always took a letter to the relatives when they left for the country and the relatives met them at the plane. From the first, they had someone in the culture who was real and who was there and they met them before they met the people from the office. Someone found out this program was one of the most successful we had ever done and it was successful because of things like this.

Incidentally, what I was doing was resisted. Oh, was it resisted. We had to fight all the time. They wanted to send everyone overseas right away without proper preparation. They wanted to get them right into the field without any preparation, because to them, culture wasn't real. "Just tell them how to do it", they said.

I guess, if you could summarize what has happened, just about every situation that I have been in, I took the situation for what it was and tried to work with that. I was very creative in the Army. The reason I could be creative was that I was working with Black troops. I respected them and I took into account their interests. As an example, I was running the officer's regiment which started out with a motor pool. I was running the administrative part. I found that the clerks were treating everything as paper, such as requests for home-leave, emergency-leave, and stuff like that; they were just treating it as paper. So I said, "Behind every piece of paper lies a human situation." See nobody had explained that to them. "Now you think about that human situation". Well, boy, then everything changed. Now this was with Blacks and the human situation is more important than it generally is with Whites.

Sorrells: And you were also teaching them empathy.

Hall: Yes, administration is not just administration. It's not just procedures. So my anthropology and my work with other people taught me stuff like that.

Sorrells: It sounds like Trager and certainly Sapir were very influential for you. Were there others in the 60s and 70s that you felt connected with and influenced by?

Hall: There are always people. Harry Stack Sullivan was very important. He was the first, original American psychiatrist. [Sullivan co-founded the Washington School of Psychiatry. Hall was affiliated with the school in the 1950s.] I would have to go through my books and see. See, I began with this idea that it has to be rooted in biology, rooted in the past, so I started with animal studies and the handling of space. Territory in Bird Life(2) was a very important book in my thinking. That paper changed a lot of people's thinking. It was a very influential paper. [Warren] McCulloch was one of the ones. I got interested in perceptions back at Bennington College. The study of space is very important. You see if you take one thing and study that... if you divide culture into different system, everything gets into it. But you have an anchor in there and the people you are studying, whose work you are dependent on, have this one thing in common, space, in this case. So, in the process of writing these books on space and time, I came into contact with other people's thinking. So that basic decision made by Trager and myself, namely, that the field of culture should be viewed from the point of view of space and time and social organization or whatever the system is, has influenced all my work. You should always have an anchor.

Sorrells: You mean a system you are looking at.

Hall: Yes, that's right. Then everything comes in.


Sorrells: As we shift more towards the future of intercultural relations, where do you see the field of intercultural relations going?

Hall: Well, the progress that has been made in the United States is actually phenomenal in my life time. Of course, there are still awful things happening. There are still horrible things happening like the Black man being towed behind the truck [in Texas]. That was just an awful thing. I'm sure people must have really been outraged. It was so blatant. It was so cruel. So needless. And so specific. But we are making progress. I was on one of the first human relations studies in the United States in Denver right after the WWII. We used all of our students in sociology and anthropology. The interesting thing was instead of giving them detailed courses.....we literally studied every business in Denver to find out what were the chances of fair employment practices. These students were so clever about developing ways to find out if the guy was telling the truth or not. You don't have to have a big system to do that. They had all kinds of little tricks to see if the guy was telling the truth.

I think that a great deal of what I am talking about is trusting other people's competence. We tend to do a lot of top down, micro-managing. In other words, we use the reptilian model. This paradigm Trager and I worked on, namely, the triune paradigm [formal, informal and technical system] was very important. We have never been able to find a biological basis for that paradigm but I had gone out to watch Paul MacLean in his laboratories at the same time we were working this out. When he started writing his articles, it became much more relevant. Again, it was rooted in three different brains- the reptilian, the limbic and the neo-cortex. The formal, the informal and the technical fit perfectly. Constantly referring back to the physiological roots has been important for me. That is from the theoretical point of view.

Sorrells: What advise do you have for people in the intercultural field?

Hall: This is what you are doing when you are teaching. Go out and take photographs of different people doing the same thing and then study that. See what you get then is pattern recognition. If you don't get pattern recognition, you can just forget it. This is the whole thing with cultural differences. It has to do with patterns.

Sorrells: One thing I'm finding with the students I am working with is this idea that we have become so multicultural and that we are so mixed, and now biologically, nearly one third of the children being born are bi-racial, that we don't really have clearly definable cultural differences.

Hall: One third! Really! This can make us into a really creative, important country. The mixing of cultures can really increase our options and allow for multiple possibilities.

Sorrells: Absolutely. Can. Could!! What I am interested in is what do we need to do to lay a foundation where this can be positive.

Hall: The answer to that is to forget about culture and to take each human being as a human being. And see who they are. The thing is to bring out the best in each person.

Sorrells: So do you mean that the conceptual notion of culture as monolithic and unchanging can get in the way of experiencing the other person?

Hall: Yes.

Sorrells: In the class I am teaching now, the White students are actually in the minority. I have Navajo students, Pueblo students, Hispanic students, African American, Caribbean African American, one student whose father is Pakistani and mother is an Indian Hindu and who grew up in East Africa. It is a collage of cultures. I feel like I am trying to do two things at once which is an interesting paradox. We are both looking at the notion of culture as real and also giving the students a framework to look at and experience each other as real, individual human beings.

Hall: Well, you see, again there is a paradox here. The English language is understood by 200 million people. Each one of them speaks it usually a little differently. So that one of the things about human beings is that they can handle that. Each person has their own idiolect (individual dialect) which enables us to tell one person from another.

Sorrells: In the class I am trying to establish very clearly that there are cultures and cultural differences. On the other hand, I am trying to get them to recognize the vast diversity within cultures. The tendency, particularly among white students is to say one, "I have no culture" and, "we're really all the same".

Hall: We get to generalizing so much. Recently, I was reading in some of the journals that some of the academics were even trying to get rid of the notion of culture because it doesn't really explain anything. Well, when people say that culture isn't real then you have to give them real examples. You can say, OK., what's the difference between the way in which your mother and your father use space? or time? Those two are the easiest ones to grasp. They get it and they are the simplest ones to get at the social organization. Another possibility would be to look at the gender differences between how tasks are done. Some of these simple exercises will get at the basic differences.

I guess that the only thing you can do, and advise your students to do is to find out what people are doing. Give them some projects, little exercises to practice. Some very practical questions about how you get a clerks attention in the store. How do you talk to a waitress. These are what I call situational dialogues. What do you need to know when you get on the bus? The bus driver's in a hurry. But how do you learn that. People are so acculturated here. They have literally learned the entire behavioral language. So we are committed as academicians to somehow or other create categories that people can learn. For my money, the categories of the formal, informal and technical levels, and the basic culture systems are what you want to start with. Now you can play with the chart of the matrix. Ask them to mark the squares that are relevant.

There is an incredible amount of information in that darn thing. And it does focus you on one thing, actually two things, because the matrix goes two ways [see Appendix II of The Silent Language]. Maybe 50 years from now we will really be able to use that.

Sorrells: Another question which I think is coming up more and more often in the intercultural relations field is how much are we teaching people to assimilate to the dominant culture.

Hall: Yes, yes.

Sorrells: From certain perspectives, our educational systems and our efforts in intercultural relations can feel like a continual process of getting people to act White.

Hall: The important point here is to try to understand the relationships between cultures. We should never denigrate any other culture but rather help people to understand the relationship between their own culture and the dominant culture. When you understand another culture or language, it does not mean that you have to lose your own culture.

I think that one of the things that your students will need is the thing they are taught not to do. They should pay very close attention to their feelings and what is setting them off. You might ask them to talk about what really bugs them. What bugs you in particular? This, in essence, is what we are really trying to get rid of...tailgating (whistle).

It is very important for people to know how they feel. This is a culture [U.S.] that down-plays feelings. You are not suppose to feel. Well, that's an Anglo thing. I am at a terrible disadvantage because I have no way of hiding my feelings. This is reassuring to some people and annoying to others.

Sorrells: The emotional part is one of the hardest for people to hear and talk about. Many of the students of color in my class have been very open about the pain that they experience.

Hall: Yes. It is painful but there is no way of getting rid of the pain. Pain is part of life.

The key to all of that again is to make your peace with the pain which is real. It doesn't mean that you have given up your identity. So, just like when you learn a new language, you don't lose the old one. When you learn French, it doesn't mean you lose English. And what we are talking about is a language of behavior.

You can say things, the same thing with different accents and in different ways and different tempos but the thing that clouds it is that you have certain prejudices and feelings and this of course, is what we want to get away from. We need to look at who people are and try to read them and read them correctly. You need to ask, is this what this means? Now, with the Pueblos for instance, asking questions is something you are not suppose to do. There is a difference between cultures where you are expected to know and cultures where you are not.

Sorrells: Where asking is not OK.

Hall: No, you watch. You use your eyes and your ears and nose and feelings. And as a matter of fact, this is a good thing for people to do anyway. Watch your feelings and see what is ticking them off. But we are told not to do that, not to pay attention. But what we are told is just plain wrong. It is so important to pay attention to your feelings.

Sorrells: So, would you like to offer any last thoughts about the future of intercultural relations?

Hall: I think we have made quite a bit of progress. If we can get away from theoretical paradigms and focus more on what is really going on with people, we will be doing well. I have two models that I used originally. One is the linguistics model, that is, descriptive linguistics. And the other one is animal behavior. Both involve paying close attention to what is happening right under our nose. There is no way to get answers unless you immerse yourself in a situation and pay close attention. From this, the validity and integrity of patterns is experienced. In other words, the pattern can live and become apart of you.

The main thing that marks my methodology is that I really do use myself as a control. I pay very close attention to myself, my feelings because then I have a base. And it is not intellectual.

Sorrells: Yes, your approach is so important and unique compared to many others in the social sciences. Instead of attempting to remove yourself from the data, you recognize the value and centrality of yourself as the instrument for data collection.

Hall: You are the instrument of research. This is a very important point to underscore. We really should pay more attention to the senses and to ourselves.

Sorrells: Do you think that if you were starting anew in the field where we are now, would you bring in any other models from other fields that would be helpful?

Hall: Some of the new computer models could be used to fill in some of the holes. Physics is one that people are always drawing on and I think that is a mistake because we are talking about reactive subjects and physicists are not. Our behavior and our attitudes are influencing our data all the time. I think the future is going to be in terms more of what we can discover about ourselves. The more we know about ourselves the better off we will be.

Under the intense heat of the noon-day summer sun, I take a deep breath and merge with the rapid traffic of Interstate 25 heading south to Albuquerque. Is what I am doing "real"? Are my research and teaching methods working? Am I staying close to the data, the information that is in the people I am working with? How can I know more about myself and facilitate this learning in others? These and other questions, provoked by my conversation with Ned, whirl in my mind. As my minds spins wildly, I know one thing for sure. I have made a friend.

Major Events in the Life and Career of Edward T. Hall(3)

Dates Events
1914 Born in Webster Groves, Missouri
1918-32 Grew up mostly in New Mexico
1933-37 Worked on Navajo and Hopi reservations in the U.S. Southwest
1936 Earned B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Denver
1938 Earned M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona
1942 Earned Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University
1942-45 Served in WWII, commanding an African American regiment in Europe and the Philippines
1946 Post-doctoral study in Sociology/Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University; conducted research on the U.S. military government administration of Truk
1946-48 Chairman, Department of Anthropology, University of Denver; studied race relations in Denver
1948-50 Taught at Bennington College in Vermont with Erich Fromm
1950-55 Director of the Point IV Training Program at the Foreign Service Institute, Washington, D.C.
1952-56 Affiliated with the Washington School of Psychiatry, Washington, D.C.
1955 Publication of "The Anthropology of Manners" in the Scientific American
1959 Publication of The Silent Language
1960-63 Affiliated (again) with the Washington School of Psychiatry
1963-67 Professor of Anthropology, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago; conducted NIMH- funded research on proxemics and interethnic encounters
1966 Publication of The Hidden Dimension
1967-77 Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University until his retirement in 1977; further NIMH funded research on proxemics and interethnic encounters
1976 Participated in the Conference on Intercultural Communication, International Christian University, Tokyo
1976 Publication of Beyond Culture
1977 Presented a paper at the International Communication Association Conference, Berlin (Hall, 1978)


Living in retirement in Santa Fe, New Mexico; occasional lectures at SIETAR conferences and the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication

: Rogers & Hart (1998); Original sources: Hall (1992, 1994), Hall's 1979 Curriculum Vitae in Box 6, Folder 5 of the E.T. Hall Papers, Special Collections, University of Arizona Library.


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1. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions by A. L. Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn was published in 1952.

2. See Howard, H. E. (1964). Territory in Bird Life. Atheneum: New York.

3. From Rogers, E.M. & Hart, W.B. (1998). Edward T. Hall and The Origins of The Field of Intercultural Communication. Paper to be presented at the National Communication Association, International and Intercultural Communication Division, New York, November 21-24, 1998.

Edward T. Hall is an anthropologist, considered by many as the founder of intercultural communication study. He wrote the seminal work, The Silent Language (1959), and others including the Hidden Dimension (1966) and Beyond Culture (1976). More biographical information on Hall can be found in his autobiographical books, An Anthropology of Everyday Life (1992) and West of the Thirties: Discoveries among the Navajo and Hopi (1994). Most of Dr. Hall's books are available for purchase from our Intercultural Relations Store or from Intercultural Press.

Kathryn Sorrells is an associate editor of The Edge and is currently in the third year of her Ph.D. program at University of New Mexico's Department of Communication and Journalism. She has often taught at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication and will soon co-teach a course at UNM with Edward T. Hall.

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