Archive for May, 2014

Someone once made me aware that Bosnian refugees that came to Australia (1992-1995) were received with open arms and true compassion. This is not the case for refugees coming today from e.g. Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq or Bhutan and I cannot help but speculate in the reason for this. The only thought I can come up with is “cultural differences”, or even better “expected cultural differences”. I am not going to elaborate on that, but perhaps there are some countries that appears more similar to us than others and that we find it less threatening to invite them to our own countries. I write “expected cultural differences” because most of the time refugees come from countries far away and we do not know much about them. The little we know often stem from the media and therefore it can be said that we are dependent on the media for information about refugees.

ABC’s “Media Watch” revealed in an episode how Seven’s “Today Tonight” depicted a very uninformative, untrue, wrong and deceitful portrayal of refugees in Australia. Although everyone is not watching Today Tonight it shows that mainstream media has the power to influence our perception of refugees with lies, and this strengthens the argument that we need a more diasporic media. Alongside the mainstream media there need to be a more ‘sustainable media capital that allows for the possibility for self-representation’ (Salazar 2012).

Diasporic media can help ‘socialize migrant communities into their new environments’ and teach the host country about their cultures, background and stories in a less intimidating way (Khorana 2014) – and without the lies. It gives immigrants and refugees a chance to create their own self-image and to represent their identities without signs and codes imposed by others (Rodrigues 2001 in Salazar 2012).

Reference:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Diasporic Media’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 19 May.

Rodrigues, C 2001 ‘Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizens’ in Salazar, JF 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

Salazar, J.F 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

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“Globalization is the process of interaction and integration among the people, companies and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology” (Globalization 101, 2014).

Globalization is all of that, and such a definition makes it sound very good but many would argue that there are downsides to globalization too.  Is this process an ongoing blending of cultures (hybridization) or is it advocating ‘sameness’ (homogenization)? Is every person, company and government included in this process; given its share of the deal, or are we witnessing modern-day imperialism?

Katrin Voltmer argues in ‘Comparing media systems in new democracies: East meets South meets West‘ that because different parts/nations of the world come from different cultures and different types of long lasting governing methods their transition into democracy and their handling of democratization is a product of their past experiences. She divides them into three different backgrounds; transition from communist oligarchy in Eastern Europe, military dictatorship in Latin-America and one-party dictatorships in East-Asia and Africa (she clearly separates these two) and explains how these previous cultural and power-asserting histories shape their take on democracy today.

This reading made me think how much people (like me) from liberal democracies expect the rest of the world to understand and govern democracy (or their countries) the same way as we do. When we speak of Asian countries we rarely show knowledge of their values that root in Confucian tradition and emphasizes social harmony, deference to authorities and discipline; we simply expect them to just ‘be like us’. And we seem to think that privatization leads to liberalization, but never do we stop to think that ownership can lead to monopoly, like in many Latin American countries where the media organizations have been dominated by wealthy politicians. This creates a class differentiation in these countries and leaves globalization just for the ‘elite’ and the ones that can afford to participate. Not to mention how we speak of a ‘global village’. We say that everyone is connected even though we know that there is a shortage of resources in many areas of e.g. Africa. I was actually just informed that in Burma only one if 5000 people has internet access, and that it means 15 years in jail to own a modem without permission (Khorana, 2014).

Such examples, I think, demonstrates how we think of globalization as well. It is thought of as a product of ‘the west’. We love for our culture to spread around the world, but are slightly reluctant to welcome another culture over our own borders. Homogenization might therefore be a threatening part of the process of globalization.

References:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Globalisation and the Media’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 12th May

2014, What is globalization/Globalization 101, The State University of New York – The Levin Institute, viewed 13 May 2014, http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization/

 

Stereotyping has existed for a long time, and a lot of the generalizing that occurs today has its origin in historical events like wars or colonialism. Such events often spark insulting and trivializing images of the other and a use of propaganda which promote feelings of hate (Khorana, 2014), and these images, or stereotypes are very hard to get rid of. In old Western movies it was the Mexicans and/or the Native Americans that were depicted as villains and savages and in modern Hollywood we are introduced to Arab and Muslim terrorists (Khorana, 2014). As the media contributes to these stereotypes they communicate a negative and false representation of other cultures.

Interestingly though, after the war on terror, propaganda has become less effective and the acts of warfare has become more transparent in the media and therefore it has become increasingly important to communicate ‘positive’ representations of our enemies so that we appear as ‘good-doers’ in the midst of our wars (Alsultany, 2013).

Evelyn Alsultany (2013) therefore talks about a new type of race representation in the US after 9/11 which blends negative and positive traits of an ethnic group; she calls it “simplified complex representations“. It challenges traditional stereotypes but also justifies discrimination by contributing to a multicultural ‘illusion’. For example; TV-shows and films have incorporated patriotic Arab or Muslim Americans into their plots who assist the Government in fighting terrorism to counteract stereotyping, in TV-dramas they are often victimized to create empathy, sometimes we are led to believe that they are the leading terrorists but later it is revealed that it was someone else (‘flipping the enemy’), and in news media we are often first given a disclaimer (“these are not Islamic practices”) before we are told about the brutality of Islam.

Alsultany (2013) argues that such representation “do the ideological work of justifying discriminatory policies” because simultaneously as the Arab or Muslim American is e.g. victimized, the storyline often also express that it is unavoidable due to the national security crisis, and in the news media diversity and complexity is loosely mentioned but the majority of evidence supports the negative outlooks of the ethnic group.

References:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Race and Representation’, lecture, , BCM310, University of Wollongong, 05 May.

Alsultany, E 2013, ‘Arabs and Muslims in the Media after 9/11: Representational Strategies for a “Postrace” Era’, Project Muse, vol. 65, no. 1