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Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Racism in Soviet and Post-Soviet Ideology, Communication, and Practice  

Victor Shnirelman

A racist stance in contemporary Russia is rooted in the Soviet period. Yet, a favorable climate for its blossoming has emerged since the 1990s. Seemingly obsessed with a social class approach, Soviet Marxism’s attitude shifted over the last Soviet decades from social class to ethnicity, that is, from social and economic inequalities to cultural differences. Ethnic groups were viewed by both officials and scholars as well-defined entities with their original cultures and languages as well as “national characters.” They were commonly ascribed with special behavioral stereotypes including negative ones, which were perceived by the general public as inherent attributes of any ethnic person. These beliefs perfectly served the totalitarian regime established in the 1930s, which viewed social–political organization as a hierarchy of peoples–ethnoses. Whereas racial theory associated the fate of both a person and an entire people with race, this fate was mainly a function of ethnicity in the Soviet social practice. Yet, this was veiled by an official internationalism. The Soviet media espoused an anti-racist and anticolonial attitude. Notably, peoples were viewed as ethnic bodies rather than a civil society. The collapse of censorship and promotion of freedom of speech in the very late 1980s opened a door for an explicit manifestation of xenophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic sentiments that were hidden earlier. A view of ethnic groups as closed entities with particular outlooks and behavioral stereotypes carved out an image of their cultural incompatibility, which engendered an idea of a natural ethnic inequality and even a “conflict of civilizations.” All these views are inherent in the contemporary cultural racism, which, in contrast to the traditional one, emphasizes culture rather than blood. Cultural racism views an ethnic culture as an inherent one—as though humans appropriate it by birth—that accompanies them unchangeably up to death. Hence, humans appear hostages of the imposed ethnic culture, who are unable to cross its strictly established borders. Adherents of this view believe that a person’s ethnic identity can reveal their mentality and behavior.

Article

The Ethnic Undercurrents in the Ethiopian Media  

Terje Skjerdal

The ethnic aspect of Ethiopian media development can be described in four phases: During the Ethiopian empire, a lasting media policy was established reflecting Amharic hegemony. In the years of the communist Derg regime (1974–1991), cultural origin was suppressed for the sake of political control. With the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) (1991–2018), the media sector developed through emerging ethnic representation and regional self-governance. After Abiy Ahmed came to power and transformed the EPRDF into the Prosperity Party (2018–), media markets became freer and ethnic frictions surfaced. Ethnicity transpires as an undercurrent in all of Ethiopia’s media history as well as in newsrooms. The situation is reflective of a society of more than 80 ethnic groups and a similar number of languages. The political history of the country can be read as a contestation between different regions and peoples and between ethno-nationalistic and unitarian preferences. Fault lines in the media sector can be understood in similar terms. Ethnification of the media augmented after 2018, witnessed not least by the rise of ethno-nationalistic media channels established by the returned digital diaspora. The armed conflict which broke out between the federal government and the Tigray region in 2020 amplified the ethnic discord in the media. The media in Tigray pledged allegiance to its region, while the federal media remained loyal to the central government. Various newsrooms and departments in Ethiopia news organizations appear as professional monocultures where groups among staff have a similar ethnic background. The identity question has gained little attention in Ethiopian media analysis, but recent studies have put the issue on the research agenda.

Article

Race and Ethnicity in the South Asian American Diaspora  

Archana A. Pathak and Shivani Singh

Though not much has been written about the South Asian diaspora and race in the U.S., that which has been written is germinal work. [existing list here] among others are works that serve as the foundations for this essay. As South Asia is a broad category with complex diversity that is further complicated when exploring the diaspora, it is not truly possible to write about it as a homogeneous group. To effectively explore South Asian U.S. diaspora and its relationship to race, one must examine focuses on South Asian racialization vis-à-vis U.S. laws; the South Asian diaspora’s complexities marked by class, caste, religion, region, nation, migratory generation, migrational cohort, and migratory trajectories; and the ways that they are collapsed, erased, and/or misarticulated, to shape the communities’ racial and ethnic trajectory in the United States. There are, however, connective threads among the diaspora. One such thread is the model minority narrative. This narrative is a highly racialized concept, as articulated by several scholars, including S. Bhatia & A. Ram, A. Bhatt, E. Chou & J. Feagin, S. Koshy, Lopez, Mahalingam and A. Pathak have articulated that this is a highly racialized concept. This narrative has been deployed to evade racial identification in the U.S. Black–White spectrum and the ways in which that deployment collapsed in the face of September 11, 2001, this narrative has often been deployed to evade racial identification in the U.S. Black-White race spectrum. It is important to examine how that deployment collapsed in face of September 11, 2001, which was a watershed moment that brought South Asians and Muslims under scrutiny by dominant groups, especially in terms of race. Up against that scrutiny, it is important examine the interplay of the violence against South Asians and Muslims and the violence against Black/African Americans, especially with the emergence of Black Lives Matter, as these moments illuminate how communities of color both navigate how to stand in solidarity with each other, while confronting how anti-Blackness functions within the South Asian diaspora. These conversations about race and racism in the United States are occurring in concert with conversations of casteism, anti-Dalit discrimination, Islamophobia, and rampant violence against minority groups in South Asia. South Asians are simultaneously confronting their own histories around discrimination and violence as they experience the historical trajectory of racial violence in the United States. The South Asian diaspora is at a precipice of change regarding how it names itself in terms of race and ethnicity, how it participates in the sociopolitical landscape of the United States, and how it reckons with its own regional histories and oppressions.

Article

Race and Ethnic Stereotypes in the Media  

Srividya Ramasubramanian, Emily Riewestahl, and Anthony Ramirez

There is a long history of scholarship documenting the prevalence of racial and ethnic stereotypes in media and popular culture. This body of literature demonstrates that media stereotypes have changed over time across specific racial/ethnic groups, media formats, and genres. Historically, the bulk of this research has focused on representations in the U.S. mainstream media and on representations of African Americans in popular media. In the last few decades, media scholars have also examined media stereotypes associated with Indigenous groups, Latino/a/x populations, Arabs, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Recent work has gone beyond traditional media such as television and films to also examine other types of media content such as video games, microblogging sites such as Twitter, and media sharing sites such as YouTube. Emerging research addresses racial biases in AI, algorithms, and media technologies through computational methods and data sciences. Despite individual variations across groups and media types, the underlying social psychological mechanisms of how, why, and under what circumstances these stereotypes influence audiences has been theorized more broadly. Cultivation, social identity theory, priming, framing, social cognitive theory, and exemplification are popular theoretical perspectives used within media stereotyping literature. Several experimental studies have examined the effects of mediated racial/ethnic stereotypes on individual users’ attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. The lion’s share of these studies has demonstrated that negative stereotypes shape majority audiences’ real-world stereotypical perceptions, social judgments, intergroup emotions, and even public policy opinions. More important, media stereotypes can have negative effects on communities of color by affecting their self-concept, self-esteem, and collective identity in adverse ways. Recent studies have also parsed out the differences between positive and negative stereotypes. They demonstrate that even so-called positive stereotypes often have harmful effects on marginalized groups. Media scholars are increasingly interested in practical solutions to address media stereotypes. For instance, one content-based strategy has been to study the effects of counter-stereotypic portrayals that challenge stereotypes by presenting stereotype-disconfirming information. Other related measures are encouraging positive role models, implementing media literacy education, and supporting alternative media spaces that are more racially inclusive. The recent scholarship suggests that it is important to be intentional about centering social change, amplifying the voices of marginalized groups, and working toward reducing systemic racism in the media industry and research.

Article

Race and Affect in Digital Media Cultures  

Donya Alinejad

Media has always been central to the social production and contestation of racial and ethnic difference. The politics of representation has formed the conceptual frame for much of the seminal scholarship examining the role of media in reproducing ideologies of race. Yet, with the advancement of digitally mediated communicative spaces, emerging experiences of interactive social encounters with racial difference compound people’s spatially proximous, “offline” encounters. And the circulation of controversy, together with the changing relationship between counterpublics and mainstream media, further complicates questions of race and media. From online hate speech to hashtagged antiracism movements, ideologies of race and practices of racial and ethnic ordering and discrimination are being reproduced, rethought, and, to some extent, reinvigorated in ways that are unique to the widespread uptake of digital technologies. Race and representation bear revisiting in light of these developments. In what has been called the “affective turn,” scholars have theorized “nonrepresentational” and affective communications as a way of explaining some of the important developments associated with digital media phenomena, such as online virality and digital attention economies. Affect has helped conceptualize the paracognitive and emotional dimensions of social life, as well as the spatial and material dynamics of mediated experiences of encounter and interaction. Through a discussion of literature at the nexus of affect, media, and race/ethnicity, this article maps and draws relations between longer-running debates on media, representation, and race and more current notions of digital affect and emotion. It suggests that the notion of representation has sustained relevance for understanding how emergent digital media forms produce ideologies of race and ethnic difference.The article also signals where the entwinement of affect and representation suggests productive directions for further understanding of race in relation to a changing range of digital-media technologies and practices.

Article

Ethnic Media: A Reflection and Outlook on Ethnic Media Research  

Sherry S. Yu

Ethnic media have been studied consistently across various regions since the early 1900s. This chapter reflects on ethnic media research in the digital age, specifically focusing on research published in the past two decades. The purpose is to understand how ethnic media have been conceptualized and researched, and to suggest future research directions. This reflection identifies the persistent conceptualization of ethnic media as “media for the Other,” with increasing attention to the broader role of ethnic media as “media beyond the Other.” This reflection also identifies three approaches to ethnic media research: assimilationist/pluralist, journalistic/media-centric, and interdisciplinary approaches. Among these approaches, the journalistic/media-centric and interdisciplinary approaches were notable. As attempts to move beyond the assimilationist/pluralist binary, the journalistic/media-centric approach tends to explore the production, consumption, and content of ethnic media within or in relation to the broader societal context of social, economic, political, policy/regulatory, and technological factors, while the interdisciplinary approach tends to emphasize hybrid diasporic identities of migrants and their sense of belonging and media practices in a transnational context. Future research requires more attention to ethnic media in the Global South, the diasporic nature of ethnic media, and the intercultural role of ethnic media.

Article

Alternative Media and Ethnic Politics in Kenya  

Susan M. Kilonzo and Catherine Muhoma

The history of the use of alternative media in Kenya’s politics shows evidence that it was in use in 2007, when the country came into the brink of a genocide; and, prominently in use, in the recent 2022 general elections. The development of fiber optic cable, and availability of Internet connection, with expanded use of mobile telephony in the country, is a direct link to the change in political dynamics, and increased use of social media. Subsequently, the availability of alternative media has revolutionized political engagements by enhancing participatory approach while connecting marginalized populations to the political elite. The new wave of alternative media also strengthens the arguments that politics and political processes are no longer for the elite. Further, the new wave of social media can also be used to explain changes seen in the use of ethnicity as a card for mobilization as well as demobilization in political processes surrounding elections. Campaigning and canvasing is no longer bounded by geographical spaces. Ethnic coalescing is not just a physical phenomenon. Mobile telephony and the Internet, which facilitate connection to alternative media platforms allows for virtual spaces for ethnic meetings and discussions. Anyone, even in remotest areas of the country, is able to participate in political debates and forums so long as they can afford a smart phone, and/or Internet connection. The former physical political processes and engagements, especially during campaigns, elections, tallying and acceptance or rejection of results, and which were perceived to be highly sensitive given the ethnic politics that has characterized the country for several decades, are now neutralized through virtual representation of facts as well as propaganda. The vibrancy of these activities present the research arena with a rich field of vignettes from alternative media accounts in the form of Twitter, Facebook and Blogs, to exemplify how ethnic groups align to their preferred candidates, specifically the Presidential contestants. This kind of approach allows for unveiling of an era of e-democracy and e-politics, developments that were otherwise impossible a few years back. Such platform allows for an exposé of a discourse that shows that, social media platforms may be possible tools for reducing physical violence and neutralizing extreme ethnicity as seen in the surprising calmness witnessed after the Supreme Court of Kenya upheld the contested 2022 election results.

Article

Refugee and Mediated Lives  

Kevin Smets, Giacomo Toffano, and Silvia Almenara-Niebla

The lives of refugees are highly mediated. Media and technologies affect the daily experiences and trajectories of refugees in numerous ways while on the move as well as while settling into new homelands. Mediation processes also inform broader societal and political meanings that are assigned to refugees, as the figure of “the refugee” is constantly reshaped through processes of representation. Although these processes are much older, the research on refugees and mediation has accelerated especially since 2015. The literature focuses on three key areas: (a) refugees’ media uses and (dis)connectivity; (b) the role of media technologies in refugees’ everyday lives; and (c) media representations and narratives. Across these three areas, several important critiques have been formulated. These include criticisms of essentialist understandings of “the refugee” as well as Eurocentric and technocentric tendencies in the literature. A response to these criticisms might lay in a more historicized, contextualized, and situated approach to the mediated lives of refugees.

Article

Interethnic Communication  

Federica Pieragostini, Bruno Gabriel Salvador Casara, and Caterina Suitner

Globalization is making interethnic communication an increasingly widespread issue. The reduction of actual and psychological distances due to migratory flows and media communication increases contact opportunities between individuals from different ethnic groups. Communication between members belonging to different ethnic groups can also be considered a challenge as it brings in more general intergroup controversies. Ethnicity affects both verbal and nonverbal communication at different intensity levels. For example, using verbal communication, interethnic conflict may emerge through the use of hate speech, and—at a lower intensity level—may also emerge by the subtle use of pronouns (e.g., avoiding the use of “we” to exclude members of other groups). Similarly, in nonverbal communication, interethnic conflicts may strongly be evident in explicit exclusion behaviors, but also in subtler cues such as by enhancing spatial distance from persons belonging to other groups. Ethnic identities and their implications are also evident in and influenced by mass media narratives, which mirror, establish, and perpetuate inequalities and discrimination. Interethnic communication is therefore a challenge and an opportunity to understand and to improve relationships between ethnic groups.

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

The Impact of Televangelism on Christian Beliefs and Cultural Values in Tanzania  

Kaanaeli Kaale and Joyce Bazira

Religion is a collection of beliefs and rituals derived from societal and cultural norms and practices to create a bond with God. Africans practiced traditional religions before the 19th century, adopting modern Christian beliefs that spread via radio and newspapers. The development of information and communications technology enabled Christians in Africa, especially in Tanzania, to use the media to increase religious freedom and start modern African Traditional Religion (ATR) churches. the past two decades, African scholars have observed the proliferation of the media landscape from a more holistic perspective to understand both the positive and negative relationships between religions and the media, generally used to promote ATR. ATR combines beliefs from different African cultures, such as worshipping spirits, the sun, trees, stones, and other things based on their location. Televangelists, which mainly include prophets and apostles, have used the media extensively to persuade people to become more religious in traditional ways. Televangelism’s contribution to promoting ART beliefs among Christians has given rise to cyber churches, which have contributed to changes in church shape, structure, textual content, and social behavior. Scholars use culture and critical theories to understand the unique ways in which televangelists use the media to develop neo-Pentecostal groups that depart from the Protestant and Catholic Churches. Three critical concepts relate to a better understanding of televangelists’ media use: (a) televangelism’s promotion of African Indigenous religion among Christians, (b) televangelism’s influence on modernist changes in churches, and (c) Christians’ perception of the consequences of televangelism among Christians. In general, discussing the media’s impact brings ethnically diverse groups together to solve social–economic issues and advance ATR in Jesus Christ’s name.

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

Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Industries  

John Sinclair

The term cultural industries was first coined in the 1980s as a comprehensive means to understand production, distribution, and consumption in the traditional information and entertainment industries—press, radio, and television—and others such as film and recorded music. Closely related industries, such as advertising, marketing, and public relations, were also included. With the subsequent popular embrace and commercialization of the internet, especially the social media platforms, the concept was necessarily expanded to incorporate such “new” media of the digital age. The relevance of these cultural industries for racial and ethnic groups living within the nations of the developed world is significant in at least two contexts: national and transnational. Within the frame of the nation, the issues concern the status of these groups as minorities; and in a global perspective, the groups come to be seen as members of transnational communities, with ties both to a putative nation of origin and to their counterparts in other nations. Most theoretical and research attention has focused on media representations—that is, on how racial and ethnic minorities are portrayed in the content of the cultural industries’ outputs, seen both in a national context, such as the perpetuation of stereotypes in news and television series, and globally, as in film. Yet such a focus on representations tends to position minorities as passive victims of the media. Less common is research in which minorities are viewed as active agents producing their own information and entertainment, as they do, with local, national, and even transnational distribution. Minorities’ own media can range from local community radio to globally available television channels and internet platforms serving vast diasporas, the largest of these being those of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and the Chinese-speaking world (the “Sinosphere”). Each of these provides a case in which the industrial structure of the huge home media market provides the basis for far-flung consumption in all those countries in which members of the respective ethnicities have settled. In situations in which they attain a certain critical mass, such racial and ethnic minorities form a market for the cultural industries and consumer goods industries more broadly. Also to be taken into account is the phenomenon of racial and ethnic minorities having an impact on the cultural industries of the dominant cultures of the nations in which they dwell. The most striking case in that regard is how African American popular music made the profound cross-over from segregated radio stations and live venues to infuse the commercial mainstream of music recording and performance in the United States and, ultimately, the world. Although such creativity is valued, there remains a diversity issue about the actual participation of racial and other minorities in executive, management, and production roles in the major cultural industries.

Article

Unruly Multiculture: Struggles for Arts and Media Diversity in the Anglophone West  

Ien Ang

During the past half century, advanced Western democracies have all become so-called multicultural societies, hosting in their midst people of various ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds as a consequence of mass immigration from other areas of the world. However, the arts and media sectors have been lagging behind in representing this increased cultural diversity and are therefore failing to contribute fully to the making of a dynamic and vibrant multiculture: the flourishing of a plurality of cultural forms and practices to represent different perspectives on society and the world, expressed by different sections of society and from different corners of the world. Instead, the issue of diversity is increasingly recognized as one of the most problematic quandaries afflicting arts and media organizations. As a consequence, diversity is now widely made a policy priority across the sector, as reflected in the diversity and inclusion policies and strategies that virtually every self-reflecting arts or media organization now has to incorporate in their strategic and operational plans, especially in Anglophone Western societies. Nevertheless, the lack of progress made by such diversity measures in the past few decades suggests that diversity may be pursued as a stated cause but remains elusive in practice. The problem of diversity, in short, is a symptom of deep institutional ambivalence in relation to the making of multiculture. This ambivalence can be understood by considering the word with which diversity is constantly associated: inclusion. “Inclusion” is a paradoxical goal because it is surreptitiously based on continued marginalization: To be included does not mean becoming an integral part of the mainstream; it means to be content with hovering on the periphery of the mainstream. In other words, the vision of inclusion is limited because it does not undermine the hegemony of the dominant culture; instead, it shores it up by containing diversity within its allocated specialist box—be it as “multicultural arts,” “Black cinema,” “minority culture,” etc. Many cultural institutions in the West bear the traces of White hegemony in their DNA but are so deeply embedded within the cultural infrastructure of modern society that getting rid of them is nigh unimaginable. This is a structural double bind that informs the fractiousness and divisiveness across the field of multiculture today. Outside the established cultural sector, there is a proliferation and fragmentation of multiculture on a global scale, where digital platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are the new cultural infrastructures carrying vast flows of heterogeneous and capricious multiculture in ways that are distinctly transgressive, disrupting and transcending the biases and confinements of the dominant, nationally defined cultural sphere in unruly ways.

Article

Becoming Chinese: Sinicization, Nation, and Race in Xinjiang, China  

David O'Brien and Melissa Shani Brown

“Chineseness” is often depicted in public discourses within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an identity that blurs together varied notions of shared cultural heritage, as well as common descent, within discourses of a unified national identity. This combines what might be called “ethnicity” (as cultural heritage), “race” (as common descent, physical or intrinsic characteristics), and “nation” (as territory and political state) in complex ways. And yet, a standard position within Chinese discourses (and often replicated in non-Chinese scholarship) is that historically informing the present, Chinese notions of “ethnic difference” are based on differences in “culture,” thus precluding “racism.” This characterization in part derives from the narrative that Chinese history was an ongoing process of “sinicization”—namely “backwards,” “barbarian” ethnic groups eagerly assimilated into the “more advanced” Han “civilization,” thus becoming “Chinese.” However, there are numerous scholarly challenges to this narrative as historically inaccurate or overly simplistic, as well as challenges to the positioning of this narrative as not “racist.” The idea that an emphasis on civilization versus barbarism is “cultural” and not “racial” delimits racism to a narrow definition focusing on “biophysical” difference. However, wider scholarship on race and racism highlights that the latter rests on diverse articulations of hierarchical difference; this includes and mobilizes cultural difference as an active part of racist discourses predicated on the acceptance of ideas of the “inferiority” versus “superiority” of peoples, as well as notions of “purity” within discourses of homogeneous imagined communities. Increasingly, “being Chinese” is being conceptualized in PRC official rhetoric as a culturally, and racially, homogeneous identity. That is, not only is Han culture being positioned as emblematic of “Chinese culture” generally but also it is being asserted that all ethnic groups are descended from the Han and are thus genetically bound by “Chinese bloodlines.” Such discourses have repercussions for ethnic minority groups within China—most clearly at the moment for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities who are positioned as “infected” by “foreign influences,” namely their religion. This is particularly clear in the contemporary sinicization campaign in Xinjiang (XUAR: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), a region in northwest China that has gained increasing international attention due to the government’s use of “re-education” camps in a program it argues is designed to eliminate terrorism. The accompanying sinicization campaign involves a combination of propaganda emphasizing “Chinese socialist characteristics” and “core values” that should be adopted, an emphasis in the media on Uyghurs engaging in Han cultural practices as a demonstration of their loyalty to the state, as well as the removal of many visible signs of Chinese Islamic history and Uyghur culture. The turn toward politically policing culture is hardly new in China; however, the increasing emphasis on racial notions of identity—foregrounding physical appearance, genetics, lineage, and metaphors of “bloodlines”—is an attempt to turn a national identity into a “natural” one, something that raises urgent questions with regard to how China deals with the diversity of its population and the stakes in being, or becoming, “Chinese.”

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The Ethnic Heritage of Party Politics and Political Communication in Lusophone African Countries  

Susana Salgado and Afonso Biscaia

The processes through which ethnicity becomes visible are varied, and its impacts have not always been the same throughout history. Investigating the roles ethnicity played in Angolan, Mozambican, Cape Verdean, and São Tomé and Principean histories makes clear that colonizers themselves placed different emphases on the relevance and the role of ethnicity in these countries. Currently, partly due to the traumas engendered by decades of conflict in Angola and Mozambique, ethnicity is mostly a silent factor, operating in the ways people interact with one another but not overtly mentioned by politicians. The insular nations’ (Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) history with ethnicity is different from that of their continental counterparts, – partly due to the influence of Creoleness – but is not devoid of tensions; nevertheless, politicians from both archipelagic countries tend to downplay the influence of ethnicity, even if its effects can also be occasionally but subtly felt. More recently, mainstream political discourses focused on the idea of the “unitary nation” are being paired with those of spontaneous movements advocating the valorization of local cultures and languages, which are being boosted by the use of social media.

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Contextual Theory of Interethnic Communication  

Young Yun Kim

The contextual theory of interethnic communication is an interdisciplinary theory that provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary account of the associative and dissociative communication behaviors of individual communicators when interacting with ethnically dissimilar others. Integrating a wide range of salient issues, concepts, theories, and related research findings across disciplinary lines of inquiry across social sciences, the theory offers a multidimensional and multifaceted model explaining a full spectrum of interethnic decoding and encoding communication behaviors from highly dissociative to highly associative. Grounded in an open-systems perspective, the interethnic behavior and the context surrounding the behavior are conceived as co-constituting the basic interethnic communication system, operating simultaneously in a dynamic interplay. In varying degrees of salience and significance, all contextual forces are regarded in Kim’s theory to operate in any given interethnic communication event, potentially influencing, and being influenced by the nature of individual communication behaviors of association and dissociation. The theory identifies eight key contextual factors of the communicator (identity inclusivity/exclusivity and identity security/insecurity), the situation (ethnic proximity/distance, shared/separate goal structure, and personal network integration), and the environment (institutional equity/inequity, relative ingroup strength, and environmental stress). Eight theorems are proposed for empirical tests, linking each contextual factor with associative/dissociative behavior. Together, the eight theorems explain the dynamic and reciprocal behavior-context interface in interethnic communication. The theory also provides a conceptual blueprint for conducting case studies on specific interethnic communication events, and suggests pragmatic insights into ways to strengthen the social fabric of an ethnically diverse society from the ground up.

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Health Disparities, a Social Determinant of Health and Risk: Considerations for Health and Risk Messaging  

Nancy Grant Harrington

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes between socially disadvantaged and advantaged groups. This essay provides a brief review of the voluminous literature on health disparities, with a focus on several major threads including populations of interest, incidence and prevalence of morbidity and mortality, determinants of health, health literacy and health information seeking, media influences on health disparities, and efforts to reduce disparities. Populations of interest tend to be defined primarily by socioeconomic status (income/education), race, ethnicity, and sex or gender; however, differences in sexual orientation, immigrant status, geography, and physical and mental disability are also of concern. Determinants of health can be categorized along a number of dimensions, but common designations consider behavioral, social, and environmental factors that lead to health disparities, as well as differences in access to health care and health services. Of central interest to communication researchers, differences in health literacy and health information seeking are revealed between advantaged and disadvantaged groups. Media influences involve the effects of access or exposure to different kinds of health information on the health behavior and health outcomes of different groups, as well as the effects of health disparity media coverage on public support for initiatives to reduce health disparities. Efforts to reduce health disparities are extensive and involve government and foundation efforts and research-driven interventions. Taking a broader view, this essay briefly discusses trends in scholarship on health disparities, noting the precipitous increase in academic journal article publications on the topic, including the publication of journals specifically focused on publishing health disparities scholarship. Future directions for research are suggested, and recommendations for interventions to improve health disparities offered by the Principal Investigators of the 10 Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities are presented. Finally, an annotated list of primary sources (books, special issues of journals, reports) and a list of sources for further reading are offered to provide a starting point for beginning scholars to orient themselves to research in health disparities.

Article

Representations of Drag Culture  

Niall Brennan

Drag may be understood as performing a gender other than one’s self-identified gender. Drag is therefore underpinned by the concept of gender performativity, or acts that naturalize constructs of gender, yet drag complicates gender performativity by imitating and parodying such “natural” performances of gender. Drag is also underpinned by camp, a sensibility combining incongruity, theatricality, and humor emanating from the 1960s gay liberation movement and more recently appropriated by heteronormative culture industries, bringing forth the need to differentiate queer (political) from gay (mainstream) camp deployment. In American popular culture, the focus of this entry, drag most closely approximates cross-dressing as a mainly humorous narrative trope involving a duplicitous cross-dresser (and knowing viewer) and a duped (and often amorous) “victim.” Cross-dressing therefore should be discerned from transvestism, which involves greater subjective investment in performing a gendered other, and from the antiquated terminology of transsexualism, which implies the desire to become a gendered other. In these differences, drag can invoke gender, race, and ethnicity with different levels of performative consequence, such that women and Black men performing drag assume historical and institutional significance differently from (white) men role-playing as women. Lastly, RuPaul’s Drag Race, the American reality/competition television series, has brought drag into global, commercial mainstream culture by establishing drag as a paradigmatic, professionalized set of performances. While Drag Race has moved queer politics into public discourse with greater visibility for LGBTQ+ peoples and communities, the reality series has circumscribed “winning” and “losing” versions of drag and, by consequence, versions of gender performativity, most notably by circumscribing the boundaries of drag between gender performativity and transgender identities.

Article

Race and Ethnicity in US Media Content and Effects  

Dana Mastro

Research empirically investigating the influence of media exposure on issues of race and ethnicity has long documented that media use meaningfully impacts the cognitions, emotions, and behaviors of audience members. Certainly, media are only one among a number of factors that contribute to perceptions regarding (and actions toward) one’s own and other racial/ethnic groups. However, theory and empirical evidence consistently demonstrate that the manner in which racial/ethnic groups are characterized in the media can harm or benefit different groups, depending on the nature of these depictions (alongside other social and psychological determinants). Consequently, it is both practically and theoretically important to both identify how and how often different groups are portrayed across the media landscape as well as to assess the ways in which exposure to this content influences media audiences. What quantitative content analytic studies have revealed is that there is variation in depictions of race/ethnicity in US media depending on the group, the medium, and the genre. Thus, whereas Blacks have achieved a degree of parity when it comes to the quantity of depictions on primetime U.S. television, there is variation in the quality depending on the genre. Further, the same advances have not been seen for Blacks in news, in film, and across other media forms and platforms. For Latinos, little has changed across decades when it comes to numeric representation in the media. When it comes to the quality of these portrayals, although some of the more egregious media stereotypes have faded, other long-standing media definitions of Latinos remain persistent. For other racial/ethnic groups, few images are presented. Within these infrequent images, a constrained set of characterizations often predominates, such as spiritual American Indians, tech-savvy Asian Americans, and terrorist Muslims. Exposure to these representations has consequences. Consuming the images and messages associated with racial/ethnic groups in the media contributes to the formation, activation, and application of racial/ethnic cognitions. For racial/ethnic majority group members (i.e., whites), unfavorable media depictions can mean the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes: this can lead to outcomes ranging from unsympathetic policy positions to active or passive harming behaviors. When media characterizations are favorable, more auspicious outcomes emerge. For the racial and ethnic groups being depicted, the effects of exposure again depend on the quantity and quality of portrayals. Negative characterizations prompt shame, anger, and other undesirable emotions and lead to esteem problems. On the other hand, some research indicates that favorable characterizations can serve as a source of group pride, which boosts esteem.