Development Dialogue (2)






Dr. Arnold Groh

Research Center for Semiotics,

Technische Universität Berlin.




“Globalisation, Indigenous Knowledge and Semiotics”


Date and Time:        December 8, 2009 : 11:00 A.M.

Venue:                   ISiM Lecture Hall – 1

                                   International School of Information Management,

                                   University of Mysore, Manasagangotri,

                                   Mysore – 570006.



     Speaker’s Bio:


Dr. Arnold Groh received his M.A. (Literature), M.A. (Linguistics) & Doctorate of Psychology from University of Bielefeld, Germany and brings a total experience of about 22 years in academics.  He is the head of research unit “Structural Analysis of Cultural Systems”, Technical University of Berlin; Lecturer at Humboldt University of Berlin; He has extensive international professional experience in Africa and Germany; He serves on the editorial board of many journals including ‘Psicologia e Saude’, European Journal of Psychological Assessment, and Alexander-von—Humboldt Foundation; He has also served on different United Nations Accreditations Committees and Councils such as UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, UN Human Rights Council and others; He was a coordinator at the Training Institute of Practical Pedagogies; Consultant for the University of Giessen; Field Research in New Guinea, South East Asia, Central and West Africa;  He was part of  a Research Group of Prof. Wolfgang Prinz (Bielefeld University / Max-Planck-Institute, Munich). Currently he is Lecturer and a research scientist at Technical University of Berlin.


Abstract of the Talk:

A semiotic perspective allows for the modelling of intra- and intercultural processes. Cultures are understood as sign inventories, and cultural exchange can be captured as sign transfer. Defining cultural elements as signs also allows to analyse the relation of these elements and their respective context. When transferred, cultural elements can be compatible or incompatible with their new context.


The semiotic approach implies the conceptions of cultural elements being units of information and thus, also being cognitive entities. A culture’s knowledge system therefore also represents the culture’s pool of information and, at the same time, its sign inventory.


Globalisation is a phenomenon of unification, by which cultures are affected to different degrees. The flow of cultural elements across cultural borders does not occur in equal measure; generally, they flow predominantly in one direction and only to a smaller extent in the other direction. These are actually two different transfer types, resulting from a bias of cultural dominance that appears when cultural systems of different effectiveness meet.

In order to understand the emergence of cultural dominance, the effects of cultural syntheses over time can be modelled, starting with indigenous cultures converging, which results in the synthesis of those cultures at a later point in time. The resulting cultures can then again go into synthesis with each other etc.


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