Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

By Simon Cottle | Go to book overview

11
MEDIA AND DIASPORIC
CONSCIOUSNESS: AN EXPLORATION
AMONG IRANIANS IN LONDON

Annabelle Sreberny


Introduction

As the twentieth century ends with ongoing massive movements of people across state boundaries, the attempt to understand the nature of transnational, diasporic communities takes on not just theoretical significance but also real policy implications, and the study of diasporic media is a logical extension of both.1

Diaspora has become a key term in contemporary theorizing about immigration, ethnicity and identity. It works to destabilize some of the assumptions about the national boundedness of the ‘ethnic experience’, a simplistic focus on processes of assimilation and enculturation and the singularity of ethnic identity, and the obliteration of ethnic history and memory.

Approaches to ethnicity usually focus on the common bonds of language, myth and habit which bind members of an ethnic community together as a subcultural grouping within the territorial confines of a nation-state. Behaviourist approaches analysed the processes of assimilation or acculturation, in which the ‘ethnics’ became more and more pallid as they blended into the ‘melting pot’ of the cultural mainstream. In later, more nuanced models, the focus of analysis shifted toward the ‘tolerance’ or openness of the new host social structure which ‘allows’ its minority communities to maintain their cultural differences, producing newer tasty metaphors such as the ‘tossed salad’ of multiculturalism. Yet other work continues to focus on the racism, xenophobia and dynamics of exclusion in western societies; indeed, to critique the self-conscious siege mentality of the new Fortress Europe. What becomes obscured, forgotten, in all these approaches to ethnicity is the

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