Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

By Simon Cottle | Go to book overview

10
TRANSNATIONAL CO MM UN I CATIONS
AND DIASPORA COMMUNITIES

Marie Gillespie


Introduction

This chapter is based on ongoing research into transnational networks of communications and diaspora communities. It focuses on everyday cultural and discursive practices among British Asian youth living in Southall, a multi-ethnic suburb of London, and a major commercial and cultural centre of the South Asian diaspora. The first section explains how transnational media play a role in sustaining South Asian diaspora formations and consciousness. The second section explains why and how anthropology provides useful tools for studying transnational communications networks among diaspora communities. Finally, in order to illustrate the theoretical and methodological approach, I briefly outline the findings of a case study of the reception of two TV versions of the Mahabharata, a foundational text of Indian society and culture, widely viewed in India and in the diaspora. The case study, which draws upon other similar work, shows how, even though representations of femininity in the epic are intricately interwoven with discourses of patriarchal and religious nationalism, Hindu women in London and Delhi selectively appropriate and contest key narratives for their own purposes, and in doing so subvert patriarchal and nationalist discourses in the construction of their own world-views and identities.

The key argument is that young people who are part of the South Asian diaspora make shared use of the increasingly transnational array of TV programmes and video films available to them, not only to lubricate their daily social interactions, but also to compare and contrast, judge and evaluate the culturally different social worlds that appear on their TV screens (Gillespie

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