The art of dialogic silence in the way of tea: rethinking space and time for contemplation

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In this article I explore silence as dialogue in human communication and address its relevance to silence in heritage sites and museums. Instead of treating silent responses as negative or pedagogical failure, I approach silence from an eclectic perspective informed by linguistic philosophy, social anthropology and cultural psychology and present an analysis of dialogic silence in relation to the nearly 500-year-old ritual practice of Chado, commonly known as the Japanese tea ceremony. I engage with key concepts of dialogue and silence in order to draw parallels between museums and heritage sites on one hand, and the practice of Chado, performed in the tearoom, on the other. I suggest how the performance of ritual in the Chado tearoom takes place in a heterotopic and heterochronic space of dialogue and of contemplation in silence, where people set aside the concerns of everyday life in a suspended time away from an otherwise unpredictable and violence-prone world. I then argue that heritage sites and museums can be seen as spaces of contemplation akin to the space of the tea ceremony, a comparison which offers an alternative perspective on the crisis of representation, the limitations of language and the problem of visitor fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Kyoko Murakami. Published with license by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • contemplation
  • Dialogue
  • liminality
  • ritual
  • silence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Museology


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