Social Identities: Multidisciplinary Approaches

By Gary Taylor; Steve Spencer | Go to book overview
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11.

Ethnic Communications

Victor Horboken

This chapter addresses the issue of the ethnic minority media and examines their role in the construction of a symbolic cultural place. More and more ethnic minority groups are willing to challenge the allegedly unifying power of modern information technology and mass communications. Operating in 'alien' cultural environments and co-existing with the mainstream and increasingly international media, ethnic communications are seen by the ethnic minority groups and movements as a vehicle of ethnic ideology and an instrument of resistance. While the international media tend to diffuse group identities and create a culture, which is not linked to, or characterised by any particular geographical place, the ethnic minority media may act as agents of cultural continuity, contributing to boundary formation and adding to an ethnic group's otherness and 'uniqueness'. In view of the increased movement of people and information across the globe, the ability of ethnic and transnational communications to reinforce or 'dilute' the minority identities and cultures deserve special attention and will, obviously, remain part of the agenda of cultural and media studies for quite a long time. If the ethnic minority media, as many believe, can play a key role in developing attachment to the ethnic cause and create an ethnic cultural and psychological 'safe haven', then they may be instrumental in setting the political agenda of their communities and in shaping the outlook and attitudes of the younger generations of 'ethnics'. In this respect, the ideas of 'an exile' as opposed to labour migration, and the resultant political 'consciousness of exile', an important but still under-researched phenomenon, which may turn ethnic minority media into a tool of political propaganda, are given special consideration. This chapter also attempts to show that, by evoking historical memory and provoking imagination, the ethnic minority media can promote social and political mobilisation of diasporic communities and turn the discourse of cultural continuity into a political issue of resistance and empowerment.

The preceding chapters examined different aspects of social identity and you already know that the feeling of belonging and the idea of cultural continuity have special significance for any social group. Identity is a key issue in contemporary academic discourse. Obsession with individual or collective identity seems to become characteristic of our time, which is only

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