About Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

A PhD Candidate at Communications & New Media Programme, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

CNM at NUS Open Day

By Samuel Cho, Corrine Goh and Chia Pui San, Year 2, CNM Society

It was a busy yet energizing Saturday for CNM Society and their professors as they fielded a flood of questions from prospective freshmen at the NUS Open Day 2014 on 15 March.The hottest question of the day was “Could you tell me more about the courses at Communications & New Media?”.  The visitors were pleased with what they heard. They thought the CNM interdisciplinary offerings offered a variety of modules which were both theoretically and practice-oriented.

One  parent commented that the wide range of modules meant that students would have the invidious challenge of having to decide within a span of three to four years, which mods to take, given that they were equally attractive.

Finally, the visitors also expressed appreciation of the chance to directly interact with CNM seniors and faculty and have their questions addressed and answered in detail.

CARE’s Heart to Heart programme helps women become healthier

By Sarah Comer and Daniel Teo, Research Assistants, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

CNM’s research lab, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) launched a women’s heart health improvement programme called “Heart to Heart” at National University Hospital on 18 March 2014. The programme involves a group of seven Singaporean women with heart conditions taking part in a heart health instructional session comprising lessons conducted in Mandarin by an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a dietician.

“Heart to Heart” was designed by an advisory committee comprising women suffering  from heart conditions. The larger aim of getting the women involved in programme development was to empower and engage Singaporean women to take charge of their own heart health.

“With the launch of the first session, we are reminded of the power of the voices of the women in our study who developed the vision and the call for content for this programme,” said CARE research assistant, Sarah Comer.  The committee worked from the research findings of a study jointly conducted by CARE and the Women’s Hearth Health Clinic of the National University Heart Centre, Singapore.

The study consisted of interviews and focus groups with female heart patients from various ethnicities and income backgrounds to find out about the problems they faced in maintaining their cardiovascular health. “Heart to Heart” participants will attend two group instructional sessions during a four-month period. They will also meet with clinicians individually to set and review lifestyle goals which aim to improve their cardiovascular health. Instructional sessions will be carried out in English, Mandarin and Malay, with assistants on hand to translate the lessons into six other languages and dialects.

According to the Singapore Heart Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Singaporean women. One out of every three deaths among Singaporean women can be attributed to heart disease. The kinds of heart conditions that women are more prone to differ from that of men due to biological factors such as menopause.

For more background information on the state of women’s heart health in Singapore and the initial study, please refer to this issue of the CARE White Paper.

"Heart to Heart" participants learning breathing techniques from an occupational therapist for stress management. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

“Heart to Heart” participants learning breathing
techniques from an occupational therapist for
stress management. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

CARE researchers attending to participants of a "Heart to Heart" instructional session. Photo credit: Julio Etchart

CARE researchers attending to participants of a “Heart to Heart” instructional session. (Photo credit: Julio Etchart)

Designing Narratives of Place: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Visualizing Cultural History

26 March 2014, Wednesday, 3:30pm

CNM Meeting Room, AS6, #03-33

In an increasingly screen-based society, technologies mediate the ways in which we experience, consume, and share experiences of the everyday. Scholars and designers have a responsibility to develop creative and thoughtful ways to intervene and engage difference, identity, and community in our mediated spaces. This responsibility is heightened in increasingly dense urban environments that are rapidly shifting, and where we are likely to lose sight of the human element of urbanization. Yet, we realize that it is the people who inhabit and move through cities that shape its cultural history and comprise the often ephemeral and under-represented narratives of city spaces. How can interdisciplinary design practice create the opportunity for developing innovative ways to define and envision our sense of place? This talk will showcase a selection of media-rich interactive projects that address these issues, showing how conceptual approaches to design thinking can contribute to exciting possibilities in communicating design, humanities, and social science research to wider public audiences.

KristyKangKristy Kang is an award winning media artist and scholar whose work explores narratives of identity formation and cultural memory. She received her Ph.D. in Media Arts and Practice at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at NTU. Her research interests include histories and theories of digital media arts, database cinema, animation, spatial and mobile narrative, and transnational media and ethnic studies between the U.S. and Asia. She is a founding member of The Labyrinth Project—a research initiative on interactive narrative and digital scholarship at the University of Southern California that has produced a range of interactive cultural histories using new media. These works have been published and presented both internationally and nationally at conferences and museums including the Getty Research Institute, The ZKM Center for Art and Media, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and received numerous awards including the Jury Award for New Forms at the 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival.  For further information, visit www.kristykang.com

Open science and e-science

4 February 6pm onwards, CNM Meeting Room

Ivan Zimine from hackerspace.sg talked with science communication enthusiasts on open science and novel ways scientists share data and improve the ethics and goals of science communication. He also presented his cloud solution for open science data. The audience also enjoyed the unique chance of learning more about his project on improving how MRI data are shared and how to support the publishing of data.

Open science has the potential to increase the rate of discoveries and improve the quality of scientific output across all disciplines (“The New Einsteins Will Be Scientists Who Share”, Wall Street Journal, October 2011). Much more than access to academic publications, open science is sharing of scientific knowledge which includes the sharing of experimental protocols, analytic methods and most importantly, sharing of experimental data. Open science sharing happens within legal frameworks inspired by open source and creative common movements.

ScienceForAll600

 

Media, Community, and the Social Photograph

5 March, 2014, Wednesday,  6 pm – 7 pm
IDEATION room, Keio-NUS CUTE Centre, IDMI #02-01-01 I-Cube Building
21 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Singapore 119613 ( map: http://cutecenter.nus.edu.sg/page/contact )

A decade ago we saw the birth of Flickr, a media website for social photo sharing. Since then, social media websites have grown to encompass many types of photo, video, audio, and even hyper-link sharing. Many researchers have conducted work on these social-websites in general yet there still exists many opportunities to explore how people engage with media online, specifically multimedia, in social contexts. In this talk, I will highlight some new challenges for researchers studying social photography and present a few recent findings from my lab’s investigation of Flickr which include geographic annotation of photographs and regions, community congregation online, and social engagement.
David Ayman Shamma (Yahoo! Research, USA) is a senior research scientist and head of the HCI Research group at Yahoo! Labs and the scientific liaison to Flickr. His personal research investigates synchronous environments and connected experiences both online and in-the-world. Focusing on creative expression and sharing frameworks, he designs and prototypes systems for multimedia-mediated communication, as well as, develops targeted methods and metrics for understanding how people communicate online in small environments and at web scale.

Research Talks by CNM Graduate Students: Joel Gn, Shobha Vadrevu and Chiang Jing Ying

March 12 2014, Wednesday, 2:30pm
CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33
“Be With Me”: Cute Technology and the Simulation of Affect
This study examines the anthropomorphic project of cuteness and its humanisation via an artificiality that involves the augmentation of the human’s biological form. It is in this augmentation that cuteness becomes an affective quality, insofar as it bridges the gap between the otherness of the object and the one who beholds it. Although cuteness is used as a design element in a variety of interactive technologies, I argue that this particular design element or aesthetic is no less technological than the object it attempts to humanize. My thesis uses critical theory to understand cuteness as a form of technology encompassing ambiguities that are symptomatic of the post-social milieu where humans have come to share intimate connections between the technologies they consume.
joel Joel Gn is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Communications and New Media, National      University of Singapore. His dissertation will critique the aesthetic of cuteness and its metaphorical implications within a technological space.

 

 

 

Online Political Memes and Youth Political Engagement in Singapore <https://www.academia.edu/5344159/Online_Political_Memes_and_Youth_Political_Engagement_in_Singapore>
This paper explores political actors’ practice of posting static visual online memes on social media in Singapore to convey messages commenting on the ruling party and its policies. The paper presents a discussion based on semiotic analysis of selected memes, and interviews with Singaporeans aged 18-24 about their responses to memes, to understand how circulation of memes might influence quality of political engagement. Results suggest that while memes hold potential for enhancing political engagement among a citizenry that is often seen as depoliticised, youths’ perceptions of the memes do not allow for deterministic conclusions about their efficacy in this regard. Rather, the popularity of memes in general as devices of humour, cultural resonance and identity representations suggests that the appropriation of cyberculture for localized political means does have potential for socialising citizens to become critical of the status quo as part of a wider network of political action. The paper was written and presented with Dr. T.T. Sreekumar at the AoIR conference in Denver last year.
Shobha

Shobha Vadrevu is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore. She hold a Masters in Educational and Social Research from the University of London’s Institute of Education. Her research interests include Critical New Media Theory, ICTS and Pedagogy, Political Communication and Youth and Citizenship. A trained teacher who has classroom experience in teaching at the secondary school level, her specific focus on the relationships and contexts of youth media use grew out of her interactions with young people in school settings.

 

 

Exploring the relationships between interactivity and anticipation in interactive art

This paper explores one specific form of aesthetic experience: Anticipation, and aims to understand how anticipation emerges through interactivity as an aesthetic response in interactive art. Previous work that has tried to address anticipation as a form of experience can be grouped into three categories in: 1) Static media such as literary text; 2) Dynamic, temporal media such as music and film; and 3) Interactive media such as interactive stories, games, and interactive art. This paper seeks to address the following questions: what are the frameworks and models used to understand anticipation in the related disciplines, and how can these be adapted to interactive art? And if they are not adaptable, what kind of models might be relevant? The study will present an initial survey of the literature related to anticipation, interactivity, and art, and identify and compare the various frameworks. The contribution of this paper is to develop an understanding of the degree to which the current frameworks from other disciplines can be applied to interactive art, and if not, to identify the issues that need to be addressed. This will inform a set of research questions for future study.

Chiang Jing Ying is an instructor at the at the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore. She is also pursuing her PhD, and currently, preparing for her qualifying examinations. Her research is about understanding the correlations between interactivity and aesthetic response in interactive art.

Calibr8-ing Technology with Art at Random Blends 2014

By Dawn Tan, Calibr8, Media Relations

Random Blends 2014 drew a crowd of 300 people with its playful and interactive exhibits.

Random Blends 2014 drew a crowd of 300 people with its playful and interactive exhibits.

Over 30 interactive digital works by students of the Communications and New Media department (CNM) are featured at Random Blends 2014, an annual showcase. This year, Random Blends 2014 was officially launched at the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands on March 1, 2014. With more than 300 visitors attending the exhibition on the first day, Random Blends was off to a roaring start.

Professor Mohan J. Dutta, Head of the CNM said, “[Calibr8] showcases the artistic and creative expressions of our students that experiment with performance across a variety of media.”

Gracing the launch was the Guest of Honour, Ms. Sim Ann, the Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Education, along with special guests, Ms. Georgette Tan, Group Head of Communications for the Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa region at MasterCard, and Mr. Pann Lim, the award-winning creative director of Kinetic Design and Advertising.

From left: Professor Mohan J. Dutta, Head of the CNM department, NUS, Ms. Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Education, Mr. Pann Lim, the award-winning creative director of Kinetic Design and Advertising, and Ms. Georgette Tan, Group Head of Communications for the Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa region at MasterCard

From left: Professor Mohan J. Dutta, Head of the CNM department, NUS, Ms. Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Education, Mr. Pann Lim, the award-winning creative director of Kinetic Design and Advertising, and Ms. Georgette Tan, Group Head of Communications for the Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa region at MasterCard

In its sixth installation, Random Blends 2014 brings into focus experiential learning by departing from traditional static displays and providing visitors a hands-on opportunity to engage with the immersive exhibits and also with fellow visitors.

Yang Kai Ting, a 23-year-old visitor said that, “The interactive touch screen features and the creative digital works at Random Blends brought a breath of fresh air to the museum space. The exhibits were not just visually stimulating, they also questioned our growing reliance on technology.”

This year’s theme is ‘Calibr8’– a play on the word ‘Calibrate’ that redefines the relationship between the visitors and the exhibits in the museum space.

Tan Kai En, 25, the mastermind behind this year’s theme said the idea of calibration struck him when he was “calibrating his computer screen.”

“I wanted to invoke the sense of constant negotiation going on inside us when we are at an exhibition,” said Tan, a CNM student. “I also changed the ending letters “ate” to the number eight with a handshake sign to bring forth the notion that calibration is a two-way track.”

This student-organised exhibition provided great exposure to CNM students who experienced first-hand the process of setting up and organising an exhibition from scratch.

“It is a fruitful learning journey for all of us,” said Regina Liew, 23, one of the creators of the interactive comic, Se7en the Reaper, a highlight of the exhibition. “We learnt to think not only about the end-product of our works but also how to present it to the audience in a social context.”

Visitors get together to play Infiltration the Forbidden City, a featured board game.

Visitors get together to play Infiltration the Forbidden City, a featured board game.

To Yew Shiyun, 23, one of the brains behind Infiltrating the Forbidden City, a featured exhibit, it was satisfying to see people beyond NUS, interacting with “our creations”. She also thought that the whole experience would be useful for students in their future professions.

Exhibition Details

Random Blends 2014 is open to the public from March 2 to March 6, 2014. Visitors can view the exhibits from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and weekends, at ArtScience Galleries (Level 4) of the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. The ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands is located at 10 Bayfront Avenue. Admission to the showcase is free.

For more information about Random Blends 2014, please visit http://www.randomblends2014.com/ and the Random Blends 2014 Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/randomblends

 

Negotiating biomedical and traditional Chinese medicine treatments among elderly Chinese Singaporean women

March 5, 2014, Wednesday, 3:30pm

CNM, AS6, #03-38, Playroom

In this study, the authors examined how elderly Chinese Singaporean women navigated between biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine in their practices of maintaining well-being.  We interviewed 36 elderly women to understand their negotiation of health choices in the interplay of structural conditions, cultural contexts, and personal agency.  Results showed that participants confronted three dilemmas during decision-making processes: Conflicts between the cultural importance of traditional Chinese medicine and the institutional preference for biomedicine; tensions between health care providers in different medical systems; and a generation gap with younger family members.  In response, participants enacted agency through examination of effects and side-effects of each medical system and through integrated use of different medical treatments for different purposes.  The study findings unveil contextual meanings of health to participants and the unique coexistence of traditional and modern medical practices in a Singapore context.

Co-author: Iccha Basnyat, Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore.

Leanne Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. Her research areas lie in political communication and health communication. She has conducted research on political legitimacy and citizen support for health policymaking; women’s use of mobile health technology; health information behaviors; and social support for women’s health.  Her work has been published in international journals, such as Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, International Journal of Medical Informatics, and Journal of Women & Aging.

Questions for Health Communicators: Tackling Income Inequality, Poverty, and Economics

By Dr. Mohan J. Dutta

Professor and Head of the Department of Communications and New Media

Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at the National University of Singapore.

“His body had fallen

to the ground

some sixty five feet

crushed into

piles of concrete.”

I have been thinking through a recent story I read in the Guardian that documented more than 500 deaths since 2012 among Indian construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (Gibson, February 18, 2014 at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/18/qatar-world-cup-india-migrant-worker-deaths), and considering the relevance of this story to our work as health communicators. I am familiar with existing scholarship within our discipline that points toward workplace safety practices, but am not quite convinced that this framework with an emphasis on encouraging individual safety practices among workers through communication offers a meaningful interpretive frame for understanding the complex structural intersections that constitute these deaths. As I struggle to find coherence in my writing, it strikes me that perhaps it is my inability to comprehend, to make sense of, to fit into a pre-existing framework the 500 deaths of Indian workers in Qatar that points toward possibilities for health communication scholarship in the future tense.

The relevance of taking communication seriously is most salient in these interstices where meaning becomes impossible, stories are disrupted, and sense making is so deeply buried in the violence of the context that it becomes inaccessible.  I am reminded of the (im)possibility of communication as I count the 500 Indian workers dead at construction sites, the 400 Nepali workers dead reported in an earlier story in the Guardian (Doward, February 15 2014 at http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/feb/16/qatar-world-cup-400-deaths-nepalese ), and another Guardian projection of around 4000 workers dying at the construction sites in Qatar building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup (Booth, September 16, 2013 at http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead). The context of horror is marked by the absence of the voices of the many dead workers whose bodies must now be counted.

And yet the context is also material, written into the mangled up bodies of the workers thrown off the crane reaching toward the sky to celebrate the achievement of civilization. The steel and concrete, the low wages, and unpaid for labour, these are all material. The materiality of context bears inscription of the inequalities in everyday life that we take for granted. The materiality of context, unarticulated and erased from our formalized conversations in journals, is integral to the health experiences, health negotiations, and health outcomes of communities that are disenfranchised by the excesses of global capitalism. The everyday lived experiences of culture are constituted amid the materiality of worker abuse, difficult work conditions, poor wages, lack of payment, and lack of dignity.

With three decades of free market reforms carried out across the globe in the form of structural adjustment programs and the contemporary forms of poverty reduction strategies, the financialization of the global economy, and the recent global financial crises accompanied by the material effects on many communities across the globe (from Malawi, Nigeria, and Bangladesh to US, UK, Ireland, and Greece), large sections of populations are without access to basic health resources such as food and shelter, and the basic forms of health care, even as wealth has been consolidated into the hands of the global elite. After the mortgage collapse in the US in 2008 for instance accompanied by the economic collapse, large numbers of families within the US found themselves without a shelter. Our own fieldwork in the US with the “Voices of Hunger” projects joining in chorus with voices of anthropologists and sociologists documenting the evictions, job loss, food insecurity and homelessness in US families in the backdrop of the financial crisis (see snippets from our field notes at http://culture-centered.blogspot.sg/2012/03/communication-and-seasonality-of-hunger.html). From the boardrooms of financial transnationals to power lunches of lobbyists to the policy circles of political elites to the closed door conversations among academics, the global economy has been redone to concentrate resources in the hands of the elite.

Even as global capital fosters deep inequalities at the sites of growth in the metropolitan centers (New York, London, Hong Kong), it works its imperial logic through the exploitation of material resources in the global South. Global patterns of inequalities are created and reified through large scale urbanization, mining, and industrialization projects in the global South that are accompanied then by large migrations out of the global South to the industrialized economies at cosmopolitan centers of production that utilize migrant workers as labour on urbanization, industrialization, and growth projects. As depicted in the stories shared above, migrant workers become collaterals in a global economy that works through the very erasure of their stories of pain, suffering, and subjugation. There are no labor regulations and labour rights in these spaces of capital. The news reports documented earlier share for instance stories of the number of workers who work in slave-like conditions, not even being paid the dirt cheap salaries they are promised by recruitment agents. They lack proper access to food and shelter. And in multiple cases, the workers lack access to any health care. News stories report cases of workers who have been left untreated after a fall at a construction site.

The global dismantling of labour rights to create favorable climates for transnational capital is evident in the special economic zones (SEZs) that have been created to feed into the global economy. These SEZs, marked as spaces of exception, witness some of the worst forms of labor abuse, with long extenuating hours, low wages, and lack of unionization.  The working conditions in many of the SEZs are highly unsafe. The recent stories of the fire and collapse of Bangladeshi garment factories are one such reflection of the poor and deplorable conditions of work at global sites of production.

What does all this have to do with health communication?

Inequality is a global phenomenon. And it is an overarching challenge for health communicators how to understand these inequalities, how to make sense of them, and how to craft messages, discourses, and social change processes so these inequalities can be addressed at local, national, and global levels. With most of our training on individual-level behavior change and lifestyle modification, health communication has broadly been configured in a narrowly conceived logic of individual action. We need to recognize that this is an ideology that is situated in roots of World War II propaganda and subsequent Cold War intervention. The idea that encouraging individuals to adopt healthy behaviors is an accomodationist approach to health, one that is expected to bring about health, well-being, and development without rattling the status quo through structural transformations. Structures can be left intact without collective participation in processes of change and transformation. The political and economic elite can continue to extract resources from economies as long as communication reifies messages of healthy eating, exercising, and screening to the poor and the disenfranchised.  Closely questioning the hegemony of individual behavior change interventions pushes us to consider the value of our own work, the impact of the work, the effects sizes and sustainability of the behaviors promoted, the relationship of the behaviors to other health outcomes, and the relevance of the work in the backdrop of the dismal health outcomes of disenfranchised communities.

Change therefore can come through a framework of health communication that turns the persuasive theories of communication toward addressing structural issues. Here, I find the recent work of Jeff Niederdeppe and his colleagues promising as it offers insights into causality attributions made by members of the public and the ways in which message frames can work toward shifting these causality explanations. Yet another excellent example of communication raising awareness about health inequalities is the Unnatural Causes (http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/about_the_series.php) series broadcast on the Public Broadcasting Service in the US. The many toolkits on the Unnatural Causes site offer excellent examples of some advocacy and activism tools.

That health is largely structural is a pivotal acknowledgment that can then work toward a collective politics of structural transformation. How can frameworks of health literacy and message framing be directed toward developing health messages describing the health inequalities and the underlying causes? How can the systematic and growing body of evidence on structural determinants of health be communicated to the public through accessible messages? How can for instance the principles of persuasion be directed toward shifting public opinion, attitudes, and behaviors toward financial and economic structures that underlie the deep health inequalities in societies across the globe? How can the traditional principles of diffusion and entertainment-education be incorporated into communication programs directed at fostering public participation in processes of global social change? How can local and community media be fostered as spaces of participation of disenfranchised communities that turn the power in the hands of communities with a commitment to transformative politics? How can the power of mainstream media and powerful lobbies as mouthpieces of transnational corporations be bypassed through creative health communication strategies? How can locally situated cultural meanings offer spaces for mobilizing participation for social change and structural transformation?

What are the processes of organizing and collective mobilization through which disenfranchised communities come together in challenging the patterns of local, national, and global inequalities? What are processes of communication through which existing political configurations can be transformed? What do the wide diversity of collective organizing in cultures across the globe teach us about alternative forms of economic organizing? How can health organizing foster creative communication strategies of change amid structural configurations that serve the power elite and thwart any opportunity for resistance through the deployment of policies, military force, police, censorship and other forms of violence? How can policy structures that silence the voices of disenfranchised communities be engaged and resisted so spaces for disenfranchised voices can be fostered?

Yet another area for health communication research is in creating spaces of meaning making in academic and policy circles that attend to the voices of disenfranchised communities. Take for instance the meanings around the affordable care act in the US. The many interpretive frames around the ACA sensitize us to the politics of access to health that is constituted amid deeply rooted political and economic agendas. Moreover, these meanings interrogate the individualized logic of commoditized health care through insurance reflected in the ACA even as the reforms offer entry points for acknowledging the large numbers of Americans that now have greater access to health care. Similarly, consider the stories of dramatic growth in Asia that are accompanied by data that document the rising inequalities in Asia. Both China and India, celebrated as poster children of liberalization have demonstrated persistent patterns and pockets of inequalities with continued extreme forms of disenfranchisement. The voices of workers, displaced indigenous communities, migrant laborers from these spaces offer alternative discursive spaces that interrogate the prevailing logics of economic growth. These discursive shifts achieved through the participation of the poor in policy and knowledge platforms are pivotal as they offer completely different frameworks of interpretation. Bringing about shifts in interpretive frames through engagement in meaning making is an invaluable task for health communicators, introducing frames of social justice, equality, and human rights in discussions of global political economy. Health communication scholarship can play pivotal role in understanding the communicative processes in networks of local-global solidarity that are directed toward transformative social change. As my colleague and collaborator Professor Heather Zoller observes, health communication understood as health activism can play a vital role in approaching the politics of resistance to global capitalism as fundamentally rooted in health.

Finally, addressing the deep-seated structural inequalities that constitute poor health outcomes calls for cross-disciplinary collaborations that engage multiple methods at multiple levels. The silos of provider-patient communication, social support, workplace safety, policy communication, and communication interventions for instance might be too narrow and confining when considering complex intersections that constitute health disparities. Also, we need continued conversations with other disciplines. Conversations with economists can be guided by examination of the meanings of economic policies and the ways in which these meanings constitute health, inequality, and threats to health. Similarly, conversations with geographers on the spatial organizing of health risks offers insights into cartographies of meanings constituted amid inequalities. Sociologists examining the structural organization patterns in societies offer vital entry points for understanding the structural distribution of resources and the ways in which communication is structured amid and in turn structures these social relations and systems of organizing. Anthropologists examining the cultural meanings, frameworks and processes of interactions in deeply unequal societies offer collaborative maps for understanding the ways in which meanings are constituted in cultural narratives and the constitutive role of meanings in shaping disparities. Anthropological work in disenfranchised settings offer narrative frames for understanding lived experiences with inequalities. Policy studies scholars bring their understanding of policy formation processes to the picture, thus creating new entry points for collaboration on understanding the interpretive frames constructed in specific policies, the framing of policies, and the role of communication in engaging public opinion and public support. Collaborations with legal scholars offer potential vantage points for structurally transforming inequalities. In my own work on inequalities, I have increasingly found myself amid a wide variety of scholars who bring diverse viewpoints to the table.

Conversations such as the International Communication Association preconference on Health Disparities organized by the Health Communication division in 2012, the focus on health disparities in the Kentucky Conference in Health Communication, the “Setting the agenda for research on communication about health disparities: Public policy implications” conference organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program (RWJF-HSS) and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania are some excellent examples of agenda setting work. The recently published Journal of Communication issue on health disparities edited by Nancy Harrington and the book “Reducing Health Disparities: Communication Interventions” that Gary Kreps and I edited for Peter Lang describe some of the collaborations that are starting to take place in health communication for addressing health disparities. These collaborations are starting to draw upon lessons for health activism and health advocacy.

Most importantly, health communication scholars addressing health disparities need to craft spaces of solidarity with underserved communities, with community organizers and activists who are working everyday to fight the injustices that are reproduced by the inequalities. These struggles often take place in the streets and in public forms. This also then suggests new lessons in community collaboration, advocacy, and participation that are not otherwise offered in the disciplinary professionalization of graduate students and faculty. As the commitment to working to change policies calls for a different set of labor that is not usually acknowledged and accepted by the academic structures, vital questions arise regarding what would count toward promotion and tenure, academic success, and professional growth. In my own time commitments to the various facets of my own work, I increasingly find it difficult to carve out the time to write academic pieces. How this is to be negotiated is a challenge for work that wants to straddle the worlds of academic impact and community impact. For instance, one of my advisees Dr. Uttaran Dutta, now an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University worked with the culture-centered approach to build a hospital in an accessible mountainous province in Northeastern India (see his post on the Culture-centered Approach blog at http://culture-centered.blogspot.sg/2013/07/my-dissertation-subalternity-and.html ). I have been amazed at the leadership and labour involved in his work in collaboration with local communities, and yet the challenge that remains ahead of Uttaran is in crafting out how to write about this amazing work in academic journals in ways that would make the work publishable and would count toward his professional success within the University. In thinking through these tensions I am reminded of one of the first Communication Café conversations initiated by then editor Prof. Kathy Miller in which I had an opportunity to participate along with an amazing group of scholars, Sarah Dempsey, Lawrence Frey, Bud Goodall, Soyini Madison, Jennifer Mercieca, and Tom Nakayama (Dempsey, Dutta, Frey, Goodall, Madison, Mercieca, Nakayama, & Miller, 2011). What these conversations depicted are the struggles and negotiations of relationships and expectations in communication scholarship that seeks to work through questions of social justice.

In sum, that there are large sectors of the global population that live without basic access to health care needs to be at the heart of health communication scholarship. That there are dramatic inequalities of health experiences and health outcomes and that this is fundamentally unacceptable needs to be the focus of health communication work, raising questions of meaning about the commoditization of health. Why should fruits and vegetables be out of reach for low income communities? Why should low income communities experience greater burdens of environmental health risks? Why should underserved communities bear disproportionate burdens of disease risks? Why should health care not be accessible to all? Awareness, instead of its narrow focus on behavior modification, needs to shift its lens onto global patterns of health inequalities and the economic logics and assumptions that produce these health inequalities, turning our work toward advocacy and activism.

The story of Mohsine narrativized as a poem in the opening of this piece draws us to the challenges ahead of us as health communicators. The story of Mohsine asks us to consider seriously, “What is the value of what we do?”

From Expert Insight on “Future directions for health communication” in the Coalition for Health Communication’s blog http://coalitionforhealthcommunication.blogspot.sg/