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Voice & Matter Communication, Development and the Cultural Return

Monday 12 September 2016, by SIGNIS

Brussels, September 12th, 2016 (SIGNIS/GC) The Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research (Nordicom) of the Swedisch University in Gothenburg published a new book on communication and development which is available on line.

This publication brought together a number of studies which all focus on Communication for Development and Social Change, "the discursive network that is set to subvert and replace older Development Communication paradigms grounded in exploitative and/or philanthropic strategies towards what used to be called the ’Third’ World during the decades of US-Soviet rivalry for planetary dominance. In other words, the majority of humankind living outside circles of power and wealth", says John D. H. Downing the Editor, Encyclopaedia of Social Movement Media in the introduction.

In the first two sections one finds an assembly of empirical studies on "voice" and "capacity to aspire". It includes among others: Africa’s voices versus big data? The value of citizen engagement through interactive radio By Sharath Srinivasan, Claudia Abreu Lopes . Their results are based on " a two-year research project, Politics and Interactive Media in Africa (PiMA), and the related applied research pilot, Africa’s Voices, which worked with local radio stations in eight Sub-Saharan African countries. The researchers examine the social and political significance of new opportunities for voice, debate and claim-making in the mediated public sphere that interactive broadcast media enables, and how an approach to citizen engagement that values pluralism and inclusivity and is not extractive, might better seize opportunities that interactive broadcast offers.

This chapter critically reappraises what kinds of engagement count in communication for development, what kinds of ’publics’ audiences in interactive shows constitute and how we should understand the power of these ’audience-publics’." Further one can find Linje Manyonzo’s article "The language and voice of the oppressed". This researcher of the Melbourne RMIT University asked the question:How should scholars approach study of the processes that characterize voice production among subaltern groups? The study builds on both Marxist and non-Marxist frameworks as theoretical trajectories for conducting class analyses that define how subaltern groups conceive, produce and consume their own voices. The discussion, a semiotics analysis in itself, aims to make significant contribution to communication studies, through demonstrating the fragile, slippery and class-based politics that are prevalent when marginalized groups use various art forms, even their bodies, as battlegrounds for contesting oppressive power relationships."

The last one of the many interesting contribution of this book is the one of the anthropologist Pegi Vail of the New York University "Gringo trails, gringo tales: storytelling, destination perspectives, and tourism globalization". She analysed the documentary Gringo Trails which explores the long-term effects of tourism globalization on cultures, economies and the environment in the developing world through the lens of budget backpacker travellers and their storytelling.

This chapter explores the travel narrative to tourism globalization as it was visualized over a 30-year time span through Gringo Trails and traces the effect of the film itself through it’s journey at international screenings and in press coverage. Tracking the film’s trajectory from its premiere in late 2013 through 2015 and the reactions to it either verbally or in print provides the catalyst for a discussion on the role of long-term, ethnographic filmic observation and research in exploring globalization processes; and, connects media practices to the scholarship on development, tourism studies, and the anthropology of tourism."

You can dowload the book here.

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