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North Korean Migration, Communication, and Identity  

Jay Song

For a multitude of economic, social, and environmental factors, a large number of North Koreans explored various migratory routes into and outward from China. An increasing number of these migrants eventually choose to settle in South Korea. Consequently, this development has led to significant ramifications individually and across South Korean society with regard to identity transformation, coethnic dynamics, and contemporary conceptualizations of nationhood, which ultimately affect potential reunification scenarios between the Koreas. This article critically reviews how North Korean migrants have transformed their identities through various interactions and communication with the Korean-Chinese, South Koreans, and Korean-Americans during their journeys from North Korea through China and Southeast Asia to South Korea, as well as the South Korean and Western media portrayals of North Koreans. The study utilizes existing literature on the topic, official statistics of North Korean arrivals in South Korea, and public polls on unification as well as the author’s own interviews of approximately 500 North Korean migrants in China and South Korea since 1999. It argues that while North Koreans in South Korea have successfully transformed their legal identity from the socialist northern to the capitalist southern citizenship, their socioethnic identities are still in the making. Coethnic tensions among Koreans with different nationalities have formed a kind of hierarchical nationhood among them and placed them in a certain socioeconomic order. This hierarchy and othering among ethnic Koreans based on birthplace and residence has important policy implications for any future unification scenario. Younger South Koreans have ambivalent attitudes toward North Koreans, taking a pragmatic economic approach to reunification as peace, rather than an ethnocentric national unity and political union.

Article

Queer Melodrama  

Cora Butcher-Spellman

Queer melodrama utilizes and reimagines the conventions of melodrama to tell stories by, for, and/or about queer people. Melodrama has been studied by scholars of communication, especially scholars of media and rhetoric. Itis also a transdisciplinary area of study with scholars in film, literature, media studies, cultural studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as well as disciplines associated with specific languages, cultures, geographies, and identities. The scholarship of queer melodrama coalesces around two primary areas of inquiry and research. First, queer melodrama scholarship engages substantially with the taxonomization and theorization of the genre. As a storytelling genre, melodrama appears in various types of media and rhetoric including film, television, literature, theater, and music. Scholars conceptualize the genre of queer melodrama in three main ways: generically in terms of characteristics, formulaically in terms of plot, and stylistically in terms of affect and aesthetic. Most definitions of melodrama focus on the portrayal of extreme emotions paired with a tragic climax—one ultimately resolved with a sudden, simple happy ending. Second, queer melodrama scholarship regularly grapples with the purposes, impacts, and weaknesses of the genre. Queer melodrama’s central purposes are storytelling, disruption, and critique. The genre has the potential to impact audiences by facilitating or encouraging emotional responses, awareness, empathy, hope, and imagination. While much queer melodrama scholarship focuses on defending the genre against dismissive, sexist criticism, scholars also critically examine the potentially negative and harmful political work of certain aspects or examples of queer melodrama. These scholarly critiques have established various problems with queer melodrama including exclusion, normativity, and assimilationism. Taken together, these areas of inquiry attest to the richness of queer melodrama for scholarly inquiry, audience consumption, and political work. Queer melodramas are vital sources for queer communication and rhetoric scholarship about media, affect, aesthetics, and genre.

Article

Race and Ethnicity in Post-Colonial Zimbabwean and Zambian Cinema  

Oswelled Ureke and Basil Hamusokwe

The article develops a postcolonial history of the cinemas of Zambia and Zimbabwe by examining the political economy of the countries’ screen media industries, as well as how issues of race and ethnicity are portrayed in their cinematic corpora. It employs race and ethnicity lenses to examine Zimbabwe’s and Zambia’s cinema economies. The chapter maps the racial and ethnic composition of the two countries’ cinema economies post–Central African Film Unit (CAFU) when indigenization, Africanization, and decolonization impetuses began taking root in economic enterprises. Informed by political economy and national cinema theories, this study utilizes a review of literature and archival material on post-independence film in Zambia and Zimbabwe, focusing on both structural issues and content. Neighbors Zimbabwe and Zambia are former British colonies that share cross-cultural commonalities, with some of the ethnic groups populating them, for instance the BaTonga, only being separated by the Zambezi River. The film histories of the two countries also have common foundations. During the colonial era, the CAFU operating in the two countries as well as Nyasaland (Malawi), produced films that were shown to “natives.” The films were produced by White officers and shown to Black Africans with the intent of making them subservient to the colonial project. Post-independence, the film industries in the two countries have taken different development trajectories in response to their respective postcolonial social, economic, and cultural specificities. Beyond 1964, the Zambian Information Services carried over the work of the CAFU in Zambia, while in post-1980 Zimbabwe, the Production Services had a similar mandate. However, the international growth of video-based production characterized by affordable technology has democratized the countries’ cinema economies and ushered in numerous experimental and sometimes community-based production initiatives. Those previously marginalized on economic, racial, or ethnic grounds from participating in cinematic production can now produce and disseminate their own art. Yet, the appeal of this demotic turn masks the racial and ethnic diversity (and sometimes inequality) in the countries’ screen media industries, which, in turn, have a direct influence on representational agency. The article also shows that film production endeavors have grown parallel to urban development, such as was the case in Zambia’s Copperbelt region and Harare in Zimbabwe, or sometimes along regional and ethnic lines, although such productions are often unproblematically grouped as national cinemas. The article further explains how racial and ethnic dynamics of the Zambian and Zimbabwean screen media industries influence the focus of their cinemas.

Article

Race and Political Communication in Brazil: The Afro-Brazilian Electorate of Salvador  

Antonio José Bacelar da Silva, Adelmo dos Santos Filho, Marieli de Jesus Pereira, and Eduardo Joselito da Costa Ribeiro

Historically, Black candidates running for elected office in Brazil, a country that purports to lack racial divisions, have not been able to pitch to Black voters with a clear racial justice message. The city of Salvador (Bahia), where over 80% of the population is brown or black, is an interesting case in point. In his critique of racial liberalism, Charles Mills repeatedly argued for the importance of engaging with race and racial justice in the political field dominated by white supremacy. Only by making determined effort to deal with white dominance can we fight anti-Black sentiment in specific cultural manifestations. This is a crucial task in the struggles to correct historical racial injustices in democratic governance. For the past thirty years, Blackness and the rights of the Black population have decidedly reemerged as a political emblem throughout Brazil, with an important role in the electoral debate. However, Black candidates who use a racial appeal in their political commnication have obtained comparatively fewer votes. This has been a serious challenge in Black struggles' attempts to reduce the inequality between Blacks and non-Blacks in the electoral field. As a rule, this situation across the country has not been different, since there is no tradition of electoral support for Black politicians among the Black population (Blacks and Browns), even with a majority of demographic representation. In addition to the increased number of Black candidates, compared to the past, recent campaigns by Black candidates have worked to broaden the electoral discourse of defending and promoting social equity, rather than adopting explicit racial appeals. All this to achieve what, Charles Mills has defended as the Blackening of politics in the context of racist liberal politics.

Article

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Communication in Africa: An Intersectional Perspective  

Kristin Skare Orgeret

When examining diversity in mediated spheres of communication, crucial questions to be asked would be whose stories are told and through which voices, to be relevant for the widest spectrum of a society and secure an informed citizenry. Approaching questions of access and representation in media and communication, it is valuable to allow for intersecting perspectives. Instead of the binary terms associated with power relations and oppression the intersectional model references the ability of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation (oppressions) to mutually construct one another and ensures a broader scope of relevant representations and mediated stories. Hence it is necessary to combine knowledge from several sources, such as the Négritude movement, feminism, and queer theories. An intersectional approach proves relevant when discussing African contexts where specific historical, cultural, and economic/political contexts play together and the populations are often complex and manifold, as, for example, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the media coverage of athlete Caster Semenya show.

Article

Reflection on Digital Cities  

Mika Yasuoka and Toru Ishida

A global phenomenon of establishing regional information spaces in the 1990s has explored possibilities of information and communication technology for facilitating and empowering city functions such as community activities, local economy, political discourse, and public services. The experimental living lab that connected physical and digital space emerged, and such technologically empowered activities were called digital cities, community networks, virtual cities, and cyber cities. Although characteristics of such digital cities differ from region to region, these early trials of regional information spaces often have something in common: regarded as a chaotic and unstructured engineering utopia, and evaluated and emphasized heavily from a technological excellence point of view. Looking back on the digital city activities in the early 21st century, the movements are often regarded as helping to formulate a direction of current urban digitalization and to create a solid foundation of smart city technologies that are embraced. From the digital city’s point of view, however, direct connections between the two forms of regional information spaces seem quite limited. Actors, stakeholders, and objectives and charms in the smart city largely differ from those in digital cities. In the era of smart cities, city-based information spaces become more commercialistic and political, and equivalent societal challenges in cities, which partially had emerged in digital cities, have become prominent. By reflecting on the trajectory of advancement of digital cities, and by revisiting digital cities from the smart city era, clear differences between digital cities and smart cities become evident. Among these differences, a diversity of approaches from technological, political, and socioeconomic agendas exists with varied balance. At the same time, the ongoing social, political, and industrial challenges are comparative, have rooted, or at least have been inherited largely from those of digital cities.

Article

Rhetorical Field Methods/Rhetorical Ethnography  

Roberta Chevrette, Jenna Hanchey, Michael Lechuga, Aaron Hess, and Michael K. Middleton

Rhetorical scholars have recently taken up rhetorical field methods, rhetorical ethnography, and other participatory methods to augment textual approaches. Following critical rhetoric, field researchers engage emplaced and embodied perspectives, thereby gaining an immediate understanding of rhetoric and its effects on audiences. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography challenge key assumptions and ethics about rhetorical research, including conceptions of text, context, the critic, the rhetor, and audiences. Although antecedent work at this intersection exists, only recently have rhetorical scholars given full attention to how fieldwork orientations and participatory approaches challenge the project of rhetoric. Rhetorical field methods/ethnography have been applied in a wide array of topic areas, including social movement research, public memory, environmental/ecological rhetoric, digital rhetoric, international contexts, and audience studies. Tensions that have arisen as a consequence of taking up participatory perspectives include whether such research engages in critical/cultural appropriation or can effectively be conducted within groups that researchers ideologically oppose. Moreover, incorporating participant perspectives, non-textual elements, and affective considerations opens rhetoric to forms of expression that span well beyond traditional, logos-centered criticism. Such a move may dilute rhetorical research by flattening expression, making nearly all elements of human life open for critical consideration. Finally, rhetorical field methods/ethnography have emerged in a larger context of disciplinary reflexivity, with many questioning rhetoric’s racist and colonial histories and legacies. To this end, we offer anti-colonial landmarks, orienting toward multidimensionality, liquidity, queering, and community, while disorienting from citizenship. These landmarks trouble rhetoric’s legacies, and invite scholars to engage more deeply with de/colonial possibilities of rhetorical fieldwork.

Article

Stepchild-Stepparent Relationships and Resilience  

Bailey M. Oliver-Blackburn

Stepfamilies have existed throughout time and refer to families that form after re-partnering when at least one partner brings a child from a previous relationship into the new union. Stepfamilies can be complex, spanning across multiple residences, and may include full biological, half-biological, and step siblings. Although stepfamilies can be found within nearly every culture in the world, they are most prevalent in Westernized cultures such as the United States. Stepparents at one time were most likely the result of the death of a spouse or partner. However, since the 1970s, stepparents have served as an additional kin or family relationship, as remarriage is more likely to follow a divorce than bereavement. As the demographics of stepfamilies have changed over time, so has the stepparent role. Stepfamilies were originally studied for how they fall short of first-marriage, intact family outcomes, and research has well-documented the inherent challenges to stepparent-stepchild relationship development, noting the ambiguous roles, expectations, and boundaries for stepfamily interaction. Stepfamilies lack cultural models to derive these roles and expectations from and thus rely on communication to make sense of the relationships within their family unit, and to externally validate their family to outsiders. Instead of exclusively focusing on their deficits, current research looks to how stepfamilies are developmentally unique yet functional, and how communication can contribute to positive and resilient stepparent-stepchild relationships. Affinity-seeking strategies, remaining flexible in roles, and negotiating boundary and ritual changes can aid in developing positive and resilient stepparent-stepchild relationships over time.

Article

Support Seeking  

Ningxin Wang, Wanming Ning, and Anran Mao

Support seeking refers to the communication process through which individuals elicit supportive actions from their social networks. Although the bulk of research on supportive communication has focused on support provision, theories and emerging evidence suggest that the support seeker may play a critical role in influencing the process of supportive exchange and the quality of support provided. Research on support seeking has addressed several key questions. First, what factors are inhibiting or driving individuals’ support-seeking behaviors? Individuals are more likely to seek support when they feel capable of doing so, and when they anticipate the benefits of seeking support to outweigh the costs of it. Gender and culture are among the most widely studied factors that affect the likelihood of support seeking. Second, what communication strategies do people employ to seek support, and how do they decide what strategies to use? The sensitive interactions systems theory serves as an important guiding framework for the conceptualizations of support-seeking behaviors. Most existing research has examined support-seeking strategies along the dimensions of direct-indirect, verbal-nonverbal, and approach-avoidant. The choice of support-seeking strategy is determined by the support seeker’s communication ability and subjective evaluation of the costs and benefits of using certain strategies. In particular, the literature has highlighted several factors that could increase perceived costs of direct support seeking and thus drive the use of indirect or avoidant support-seeking strategies, including perceived stigma of the stressor, dispositional qualities (e.g., insecure attachment style, low self-esteem), and collectivistic cultures. Last, how do different support-seeking strategies impact the outcomes of supportive interactions? There is some empirical evidence that direct support seeking, compared to indirect, avoidant means of seeking, is more effective in terms of eliciting helpful support and facilitating personal coping. Findings revealed a phenomenon called “the paradox of indirect support seeking” that describes an irony where individuals may strategically choose to seek support indirectly due to face needs or fear of rejection, yet the indirect strategies backfire, leading to the rejection and the unhelpful responses that they dread. Overall, support seeking maintains an area that attracts growing scholarly attention. There are opportunities for new insights on the message features and interactive process of support seeking.

Article

Delineating the World of eSport Motivation Measures  

Andrew C. Billings, Kenon A. Brown, and Joshua R. Jackson

Understanding of esport from a communicative perspective is offered, covering the history, expansion, and operationalization of esport, while highlighting five main areas to bolster the understanding of communication-based esport scholarship. First, theories that are often used for explaining the phenomenon of esport are explored. This section gives particular deference to uses and gratifications approaches as the most-often adopted theoretical lens for investigations in the area, while also listing parasocial interaction as a common secondary focus. Other theories include the theory of reasoned action, self-determination theory, entertainment theory, and media dependency. Second, motivations for esport consumption are advanced, showing that as many as 30 (and likely more) could at least conceivably be part of the equation for the appeals of esport consumption. Third, the sociocultural elements of esport participation are extrapolated upon, particularly with an eye to disparities in participation based on biological sex, race or ethnicity, nationality, and elements of the digital divide. Fourth, formal measurements of the motives for esport media consumption are offered, highlighting areas of overlap and deviation in equal measure. Finally, the Motivation Scale for esport Spectatorship Consumption. Along with consumption measures, 13 factors are advanced, each with a trio of Likert-based statement for measurement. More specifically, these factors include (alphabetically): (a) aggressive behaviors, (b) communication, (c) escapism, (d) family gathering, (e) friend gathering, (f) information load, (g) information supremacy, (h) knowledge acquisition, (i) personal education, (j) skillful performance, (k) support, (l) vicarious achievement, and (m) wholesome environment. Collectively, these five areas summarize the current state of esport scholarship in the communication discipline while signaling various trajectories for further understanding.