chapter  2
Asymmetry in transcultural interaction
WithRudolf G. Wagner
Pages 24

This chapter outlines the potential of the concept of asymmetry as an analytical tool for the study of transcultural interaction. It presents a theoretical outline, which serves the function of a chain of hypotheses, and examines these hypotheses with a case study about the development of the Chinese press. In the human realm, asymmetry might characterize a dynamic relationship between entities such as asymmetry in trade between nations, or gift-giving between individuals. Both the reality of asymmetry and the lofty goal of symmetry are pervasively present in history – for example, in international law – and are even universally present in the interaction between cultures. The 1872 asymmetry in the functionality between China and the West is inverted down to the proud Chinese in the lower right corner, turning away Western coolies looking for work in China, and the Westerners in the criminals’ cangues guarded by Chinese in the upper right corner.