Archive for May, 2008
She passed away last night.
Response from Radhika Gajjala for the ICA 2008 Panel -
Media Issues of Citizenship, Environment, and Health
Division – Global Communication and Social Change
A Critical Review of the Participatory Potential in Media for Social Change
Karin Gwinn Wilkins, U of Texas, USA
Access to Broadcasting: Community Radio and Radio Communities
Kate Coyer, Central European U/U of Pennsylvania, USA
Deconstructing the Articulation of Social Change and HIV/AIDS Discourses in an Indian AIDS Campaign
Purba Das, Washington State U, USA
Jeffery C Peterson, Washington State U, USA
Putting the Earth Into International Communication: Towards a Cultural Approach to Media, Globalization, and the
Patrick D. Murphy, Southern Illinois U – Edwardsville, USA
Teaching Democracy? Exploring the Effects of Civic Education Programs in New Democracies
Jocelyn Ilana Landau, U of Pennsylvania, USA
These are four really good papers on topics very critical to Global citizenship and topics very relevant to human survival. They describe, recommend and evaluate some important sites for study. They emphasize through their work that those of us invested in making a difference through the scholarship we do must engage critical paradigms of research while examining with great care and respect, the actual site of activism that we research and participate in. Theory-building is not an activity removed from activism and social change, but rather it is something we do in the process of acting out and within contexts of activism in order to mobilize strategies through productive coalitions and policy debates. While it is true that the critical cultural studies perspectives, feminist perspectives and other related perspectives on communication research have opened up many of these ways of seeing for our discipline in general, it is important that these sorts of critical work be inserted into the body of work that comes under “development communication” since it is apparent from the way policy makers reach for advisory input from academics that they are looking only towards the limited ways in which those who call themselves development specialists are doing research. Thus as younger generations of scholars grounded in examinations of current activist dilemmas begin to produce situated knowledges that question the relevance of existing frameworks by showing the urgent relevance of critical inquiry to development work – we will find more and more hope in changing the ways in which academics connect to policy makers as translaters for activists in the field – building productive coalitions across locality and globality. Patrick Murphy rightly suggests, for instance, that there is a crisis for us as academics when we are not able to have “Earth” in Communication studies. Further, I would actually suggest that we risk becoming irrelevant to global dialogues if we do not find a way to bring these critical intersections into our knowledge building activities and making ourselves heard by policy makers.
Therefore, before I begin a response to each specific paper, I’d like to say how much of a pleasure it is that social change and action is explicitly a part of the framing of the research presented through the papers in this panel. I am glad our discipline is finally able to assert that social activism and communication scholarship are interrelated and that communication scholars cannot just stand by and pretend that they objectively describe circumstances without being involved in the active construction and implementation of social campaigns related to health and the environment by revealing and articulating the connections between communication praxis, political policy and action for change. Media is not just an object of inquiry – it is subject to critique and evaluation so that we can recommend change.
Thus, Karin Wilkins, in proposing that we consider participation as a structural consideration within the production of media strategies is making visible the investment that media producers have in the shaping of social meaning around us as media advocacy strategies in social marketing and entertainment education programs increasingly begin to adopt the language of activism and participatory change in projects. This increase in the use of such language however, far from creating public spaces of change and questioning, are contributing to producing consent for the privatization of programs designed for the public good. I look forward to seeing Karin make connections with other scholarship in our field and in related disciplines that points to how activist languages are quickly appropriated by a hegemony that re-articulates hierarchies and contributes to the alienation and oppression of marginalized groups through such strategies of privatization.
All this continues to contribute to the disappearing public spheres for the questioning of oppression and status quo in the name of “individual empowerment”.
Kate Coyer takes us to another site at which the struggle to maintain a public space of community connections continues – that of community Radio. This is another excellent paper that makes visible the ways in which power functions to silence crucial community voices, as they fight to access their own airwaves.
Purba Das and Jeffrey Peterson do a much needed connecting of critical theoretical frameworks (that of Laclau and Mouffe’s articulation in this instance) to work that until recently has been ghettoized as “development” work. Under the heading of development work such contingencies and unequal power relations as those revealed through this sort of analysis have been glossed over – thus compromising the ways in which such work is carried on on the field. Knowledge created around issues of global and local activism tends to be decontextualized and flattened when these sorts of analyses are not made. This flattening leads to inadequate action and lopsided policy making that once again privileges oppressive worldviews (albeit unintentionally) and hierarchies. Development communication sadly lacks the critical edge and happily continues on to talking and liasing with policy makers without questioning the powerfields through which we produce these knowledges. If we are serious about being accountable to the populations we claim to serve through our knowledge building – we would indeed do more critical analyses in relation to such work and try to provide ways of understanding power inequalities so that this awareness can be carried forward into action and policy leading to more democratic solutions.
Patrick Murphy’s paper does an excellent job of helping us see ways in which we can bring various critical intersections in communication studies to bear on Earth studies. In fact showing that communication scholars do not “just” study passive communication – but can be activists at the forefront of our survival shoulder to shoulder with others working on the field to change the practices leading to the possible destruction of our physical environment. I predict that this essay will be read and used by many as we attempt to bring in variously marginalized yet crucial topics related to the earth and the environment as we critique colonialist developmentalist frameworks that still even today continue to maintain a status quo in development communication as a field. In short – there is hope.
Finally, in her paper on Teaching Democracy with a question mark, Jocelyn Landau takes up the very important issue of contextual sustainability of civic education programs and their relationship to the development of democracies.
I enjoyed all papers immensely and look forward to seeing more work from all these scholars. I would encourage all the panelists to continue to work towards coalitions that will produce practical and sustainable solutions to the problems and questions they pose in their papers.
So now I am at ICA – up at 4 am thinking of how to frame the loom.
I guess I used it to “rupture” the idea of “virtual” “global” and “technology” in my precon presentation and my OU presentation – but now I have to put forth what S and Sh have articulated with me and once again make pleas to rearticulate the notion of global…
is there a point to trying? Is this the audience that will be receptive to these ideas – always the same questions, eh:)
oh well – it must be presented and then we shall see.
meanwhile – the book signing for the South Asian Technospaces is today.
In other news – unrelated to ICA and more about the technologists and professionals in my family who are simultaneously globetrotting this week to things like Brain conferences and what not in the Montreal neighborhood….
M gets here in the afternoon – maybe I will get to see him for lunch. S gets here at night – so no sleep for me. But I get a head start on my Hyderabad trip.
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a cloud of course!
But if you like
you may call it
a Theoretical Head shop.
You see diva’s tent, perhaps it’s melissa’s metaphor?, reality_tv, sv_temple, her_Indian_grandmother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, dome’s cracked mirror…, sarod, against_the_current, the_basement, and IPC411 here.
The details are kinda hazy but you are no longer where once you had been.
a large tent
You see sitting_down_thing, I’ll_be_watching_you, annamaachaarya, mrudangam, vaahanam, meerabai, tanpura, and Saraswathi here.
Saraswathi | cyb teleports in.
Saraswathi | cyb enters the room somehow.
quote from Hayles 1999
“Here, at the inaugural moment of the computer age, the erasure of embodiment is performed so that “intelligence” becomes a property of the formal manipulation of symbols rather than enaction in the human lifeworld. The Turing test was to set the agenda for artificial intelligence for the next three decades. In the push to achieve machines that can think, researchers performed again and again the erasure of embodiment at the heart of the Turing test. All that mattered was the formal generation and manipulation of informational patterns.”
From the wikkipedia.. (oh no?! yikes?:))
“In essence embodiment as an idea binds two worlds of substance (or matter)and spirit (or culture, thought of as intentional objects and phenomena), contrary to a duality long posited by notables like Descartes. The core idea looks to find the biological substrate not as a vessel, but as the being itself. The mind and spirit are not a sublimation of the biology, but are a method of its workings. Thus body and mind are fused into a single being – the only distinction between matter and person being the way of observing the being.”
interesting how even this most recent article took me back to theorizing pvt and public through postcolonial feminist lenses – and I really wasnt looking to directly go there…
and of course the ubiquitous tension/dialectic of accountability to and oppression within community v individualization and illusions of liberation….
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bits and pcs of all past lives
releasing pain or joy
as I clean and organize
stopping to read a child’s book or an old diary or letter from a dead parent
stopping to breathe a little and think about what was and what could
not have been
recreating auras of past rooms and apartments as the objects gaze back at me asking me who I will become
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When friends and colleagues are taken away through the silent violence of cancer….
In these last 10 months I have seen/felt/heard good friends and
devoted colleagues begin to fade away to cancer
it leaves me speechless – thoughtless….
I have no more tears – but the desperate need to hold on to each moment of contact with them – even if it is an email or an image
Depending on where I am placed – in my travels and habit-ation
I am near or far
and find myself constantly (and perhaps selfishly)
wishing only that she will wait at least
until I can see her again
waiting to see what she will teach me and leave me with as she departs
because her departing is so very inevitable
all of philosophy, literature, music, ideology and religion leaves me with
no answers to the questions
all the learning lost
the memories and stories they tell
I constantly reach for recording machines – trying to capture everything I can
knowing that we live from moment to moment and I may never be
able to learn from them again…
But for now the only way I have of being with her is to edit, revise and re-member
preparing to present it – remember her voice – hoping she will wait to hear the feedback and tell me where to go next…
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Re-reading Lucy Suchman in her second edition and with her reflections and responses on readings of her work…
also reading Tom B’s ethno of secondlife…
thinking back to Object stares back and the Upanishads…
Meaning making and Kalidasa (vaagardhaaviva samprukthow vaak artha prathi paththaye )
when do we hear the Object speak ? what’s at stake in naming its speech as Other than that of the subject – and where are the points of transformation, transition and translation made visible…
back to locating ruptures at the interface…
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