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Lumumba, Hammarskjoeld and the 1960 Congo crisis: a case of international misunderstanding

Author(s): J. Blommaert

Journal: Afrika Focus
ISSN 0772-084X

Volume: 6;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 97;
Date: 1990;
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Keywords: Congo (Zaïre) | History | Linguistics

A number of influential works on the 1960 Congo Crisis, as well as most theoretical models of intercultural communication, consistently explain conflicts between culturally different participants in terms of features of ethnic communication style, cognition, value systems etc. A general picture emerges in which culture is seen as the cause of conflicts, misunderstandings, or communication breakdown. An analysis of six letters exchanged between Lumumba and Hammarskjoeld during one of the crucial episodes of the Congo Crisis reveals that ethnic features of communication style are the consequence, rather than the cause of conflicts.
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