Anthropoloy and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium

Anthropoloy and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium

Anthropoloy and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium

Anthropoloy and Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium

Synopsis

Anthropological interest in mass communication and media has exploded in the last two decades, engaging and challenging the work on the media in mass communications, cultural studies, sociology and other disciplines. This is the first book to offer a systematic overview of the themes, topics and methodologies in the emerging dialogue between anthropologists studying mass communication and media analysts turning to ethnography and cultural analysis. Drawing on dozens of semiotic, ethnographic and cross-cultural studies of mass media, it offers new insights into the analysis of media texts, offers models for the ethnographic study of media production and consumption, and suggests approaches for understanding media in the modern world system. Placing the anthropological study of mass media into historical and interdisciplinary perspectives, this book examines how work in cultural studies, sociology, mass communication and other disciplines has helped shape the re-emerging interest in media by anthropologists.

A former Washington D. C. journalist, Mark Allan Peterson is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He has published numerous articles on American, South Asian and Middle Eastern media, and has taught courses on anthropological approaches to media t at he American University in Cairo, the University of Hamburg, and Georgetown University.

Excerpt

I have dabbled in media at least since junior high school, when my father bought me a used 8mm movie camera. My productions were fundamentally intertextual, pastiches and parodies of the television and films I enjoyed viewing. They were also fundamentally social activities, ways for a loud, socially inept adolescent to bring together a group of male and female comrades, some of whom might not otherwise have wanted anything to do with me. I went to Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota, one of the first secondary schools in America to have a fully fledged television production studio, and at sixteen I was producing (with a crew of six) a daily, two-minute humorous segment for the school's daily ten-to-fifteen minute broadcast, The Spartan Scene.

While an undergraduate majoring in the study of religion at UCLA, I freelanced for magazines and newspapers, and discovered a lucrative niche producing institutional newsletters. I was hired to write a screenplay treatment for a movie about King David, which was never made (the funding collapsed when Variety announced Dino DeLaurentis was planning a movie on the same subject starring Richard Gere). Accompanying my wife to the east coast to pursue her M.Ed., I learned computer typesetting as a text editor for law books at the Michie Company in Virginia. When my wife found a job in Washington, DC, I began taking classes in anthropology at the Catholic University of America, and I became assistant editor of Anthropological Quarterly. Needing a job, I lucked into an assistant editorial position at the National Tribune Co., where for three years I learned the mysteries of the Washington Press Corps. The “Trib,” as we affectionately called it, published watchdog publications on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (and its predecessors), several congressional committees and some departments of the Pentagon. It was a great place to work. Hours were flexible, pay was low, and turnover high; an assistant editor might find himself off to cover a congressional hearing or interviewing a senator because no reporters were available.

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