Mass Media and Cultural Identity: Ethnic Reporting on Asia

Article excerpt

Mass Media and Cultural Identity: Ethnic Reporting in Asia. Anura Goonasekera and Youichi Ito, eds. London, UK: Pluto Press, 1999. 305 pp. Price not available.

University education in international journalism and intercultural communication in the United States has been predominantly rooted in the Cold War ideology with a subsequent Euro-centric twist. Pioneers in the field often worked For government projects ranging from propaganda studies to uses of modern communication strategies in national development around the world. Unlike lesser-prone disciplines in liberal arts such as comparative literature and philosophy, journalism and media studies have stayed firmly entrenched in that particular ideology of politics and power.

Only of late have we seen works of nonWestern scholars emerge that attempt to redress an imbalance of intellectual works with an idea of self-representation in journalism academia and journalism practice. Most recent of these works, refreshingly, is this book edited by two Asian media scholars, Anura Goonasekera and Youichi Ito.

Asia, to make a classic understatement, is in the throes of transition. To make an attempt to understand this vast continent in its enormity of languages and cultures, customs and faiths, at best, remains an attempt. The book itself is a noble endeavor in locating ethnicity solidly in the domain of international and intercultural communication studies. The book is an excellent collection of chapters written by native Asian communication scholars assessing the relationship between Asian media, ethnic violence, and cultural identity in the continent.

This book is definitely one of the first in terms of depth-and one of the best in terms of breadth-in the field that focuses on the role of communication media, particularly the newspaper and television, in the management of ethnic relations in several countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

The book could have been close to being comprehensive if the People's Republic of China and Taiwan were included in the analyses relating to regionalism, nationalism, struggles in faith, and dominance in society.

Considering the fact that English is a second language to many of these scholars whose works are compiled in the book, the quality of writing is very good. Their analyses of various scenarios in different social contexts are rigorous; and the organization of their studies in the book is logical. The chapters are comprehensive and adhere to the vision of the editors. Each chapter makes an outstanding contribution to the field. I didn't expect anything less since all the contributors are established and resident scholars in specific Asian countires.

Editor Goonasekera is the head of research at the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in Singapore; Ito, the co-editor, is a professor of mass communications and international communication in the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University in Japan.

This volume originated with a joint effort by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and AMIC in launching an empirical research project in 1994 to study the role of print and broadcast media in the management of ethnic relations in Asia. …