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Article

Postcolonial Media Theory  

Juan Llamas-Rodriguez and Viviane Saglier

The postcolonial intellectual tradition has proved crucial to articulating cultural, film, and media formations from the geographical and theoretical perspective of (formerly) colonized people and countries. The object of media studies has expanded significantly beyond the screen in the past decades, including a renewed attention to non-visual media and an emerging attention to the material conditions of possibility for media representations. In this new mediascape, postcolonial theories and concepts potentially repoliticize media theory by questioning Western assumptions about technological progress and innovation. Postcolonial theories of media force a rethink of the tenets of traditional media theories while, at the same time, media theories demonstrate the centrality of media, in all its forms, to understanding the postcolonial condition.

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

Pacific Media  

Tara Ross

Pacific media are viewed here as the media of the Pacific region, an area that covers vast cultural, economic, and geographic differences. Like the region, Pacific media are diverse, ranging from large media systems in the bigger island groups to little more than government-produced newsletters in smaller island states. Pacific media face unique challenges, with their small yet diverse and often scattered audiences, which, inevitably, influence both their media practices and content. Like all media, they also face the contemporary challenges of rapid technological change and shifts in audience tastes. There has been relatively little research on Pacific media (at least compared with media elsewhere), but what there is demonstrates a range of media systems, where radio is important and web and social media are growing in influence. Checks on media freedom have been an issue in some Pacific states, as has the influence of foreign ownership and content. Cultural norms around community and social obligation appear to be influential in shaping both the structure of some Pacific media (which are notable for their commercial/community hybridity) and a close relationship with their audiences. In terms of academic scholarship, there is a need for more empirical research to build on earlier works—to fill gaps in understanding about Pacific audiences and their evolving transnational media practices, and the mediascapes of underexplored island states, and to map contemporary media practices in the face of rapid change. There is also a need for more research that can build local theory about Pacific media, particularly research by Pacific researchers that is grounded in Indigenous Pacific perspectives.