By Joy Hendry
Wrapping Culture examines problems of intercultural communication and the possibilities for misinterpretation of the familiar in an unfamiliar context. Starting with an examination of Japanese gift-wrapping, Joy Hendry demonstrates how our expectations are often influenced by cultural factors which may blind us to an appreciation of underlying intent. She extends this approach to the study of polite language as the wrapping of thoughts and intentions, garments as body wrappings, constructions and gardens as wrapping of space. Hendry shows how this extends even to the ways in which people may be wrapped in seating arrangements, or meetings and drinking customs may be constrained by temporal versions of wrapping. Throughout the book, Hendry considers ways in which groups of people use such symbolic forms to impress and manipulate one another, and points out a Western tendency to underestimate such nonverbal communication, or reject it as mere decoration. She presents ideas that should be valid in any intercultural encounter and demonstrates that Japanese culture, so often thought of as a special case, can supply a model through which we can formulate general theories about human behaviour.