Thursday, December 16, 2004

Mediating Between Cultures – More than Translating Words!

In criminal law, a cultural defense – or the assertion that a person's different cultural background influenced his or her actions – can be used as a mitigating factor in plea bargaining or sentence reduction. It’s an issue for mediators too, in that we are responsible for understanding how cultural issues may arise in mediation and affect a party’s negotiation style, and their ability or willingness to engage in mediation.

Cultural issues have catapulted to the front page in the case of Southeast Asian immigrant charged with killing six white hunters in Wisconsin. According to this Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times news story, he comes from a community of Laotians known as Hmongs and for a very interesting insight into an Hmong’s anguish over her role as a “cultural” mediator read this article in Asian Week.

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