Exhibition opening and panel discussion

Equivalence
By Chow and Lin
Exhibition opening: Tuesday 25 April 2017, 7pm – 9.30pm
Open to public: Wednesday 26 April to 14 May 2017

Panel discussion: Thursday 27 April 2017, 7.30pm
Register for the discussion here: http://equivalence.peatix.com/

Admission to the exhibition and panel discussion is free.

Equivalence is a systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques to address global issues of our time.

The Equivalence – Cans series delves into the state of the economy, social inequality and consumption patterns. It confronts us on how we view everyday life, often with our own set of tinted glasses, perhaps obscured by our world view determined by where we stand on the society strata.

http://www.chowandlin.com/equivalence-cans/

About the Panel Discussion: 

This panel discussion will focus on on socio-economic trends in Singapore, how they impact different sections of society, and how art can be used to spread awareness about these issues. The speakers include:

– Associate Professor Oh Soon-Hwa, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University
– Professor Mohan Dutta, Head of the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore
– Associate Professor Irene Y.H. Ng, Department of Social Work and Director of Social Service Research Centre, National University of Singapore
– Lin Huiyi, artist and Director of Grail Research
– Stefen Chow, artist and independent photographer


The conservatism of behavior change: The limits of health communication as persuasion

The bulwark of health communication is built on the premise of communication as a tool of behavior change. Since the invention of film, communication scholars, practitioners, and policy makers have been obsessed with the power of media technologies to transform behaviors of audiences that can be targeted through messages. Mass media as tools of propaganda are invested with miraculous powers of transformation. The power of communication to bring about magical transformations in the behaviors of those it touches forms the mainspring of the lay obsession with magic bullet theories of the media. The media effects literature over the last four decades has robustly debunked the magic bullet ideology. These magic bullet theories have been witnessing a catalytic return since the advent of social media in the form of the renewed interest in behavior change theories, now packaged in big data analytics, nudge, and behavioral insights. What these renewed fascinations with media technologies (in this case, with the latest version, digital media) often overlook is the empirical evidence that aptly captures the limited effects of communication technologies in bringing about behavioral transformations. Why then this ongoing obsession with health communication as persuasion? Amid the large scale global inequalities and the effects of these inequalities on human health, policy makers and academics in the status quo find in the premise of behavior change the hope for improving health while keeping the status quo intact. As long as communication technologies can nudge individuals to change their behaviors, large scale inequities and the structures that constitute these inequities can be left intact. In other words, the system can be left to perpetuate itself, maintaining the status quo to the extent that health outcomes can be framed in the premises of behavior change. Hence, the growing interest in these age old communication-driven persuasive processes in economics and business schools. Essential to the logic of behavior change is an overarching conservatism that reproduces the inequities in existing structural configurations. The moral question of inequalities in health outcomes is shaped by an emphasis on individual responsibility, placing the onus of health on the individual. Behavior change reifies the neoliberal ideology of health, where policymakers and health communicators continue to see health as a product of individual behavior. The neoliberal ideology of health communication fundamentally limits conversations with empirical evidence, with the body of work on media effects that is humbling in terms of the degree of faith we ought to put on the promises of behavior change. Economists and business researchers jumping into behavioral insights and nudge theories with gusto would do well to begin with the vast body of media effects literature instead of clinging to the seductions of an ideology that has largely proven detrimental to human health and wellbeing. By Prof Mohan J. Dutta

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta presents at the National Communication Association 102nd Annual Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

NCA Opening Session: Putting Bodies on the Line and Words into Action – Celebrating the Joys of, Challenges in, and Opportunities for Civic Engagement

Sponsor: NCA First Vice President
Thu, 11/10: 5:00 PM  – 6:30 PM
Marriott Downtown
Room: Grand Salon E – Level 5
Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander has built a career thinking about and embracing queer black bodies moving through the vectors of racism and homophobia; Dr. Mohan Jyoti Dutta has spent the past decade advocating for health care justice in developing nations; Dr. Billie Murray has chronicled her participation in movements for social justice in the wake of Confederate memorializing and in the face of hate speech. A Dean, a Chair, and an Assistant Professor; a colleague from LA, another from Singapore, a third from Philadelphia. While our speakers embody diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and methodology and area expertise, they are united in their commitment to using communication activism for the common good. Come hear their stories from the front lines of change; listen as they engage in spirited dialogue about why communication matters, and how, and to whom; and please lend your voice to our collective celebration of those who put their bodies on the line and words into action. The NCA Opening Session is sponsored by Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Chair

Lisa A. Flores, University of Colorado, Boulder  – Contact Me

Presenter(s)

Bryant Keith Alexander, Loyola Marymount University  – Contact Me Mohan Dutta, National University of Singapore  – Contact Me Billie Murray, Villanova University  – Contact Me

Sponsor/Co-Sponsors

Activism and Social Justice Division
La Raza Caucus
NCA First Vice President

 

Listening to voices of the poor: Academic freedom and policy making

The work of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) has applied the tenets of the CCA to work in communities across the global margins. The poverty and communicative inequalities projects that are carried out by CARE reflect the overarching theme of the CCA, theorizing the communicative constructions of poverty in the global mainstream, and creating spaces for the voices of the poor in these mainstream and elite platforms through collaborations in solidarity with the poor. Comparing the discourses of poverty in mainstream  and elite networks with discourses of poverty as voiced by those living in poverty across countries offers a conceptual framework for examining the ways in which communication of/about poverty works in mainstream/elite constructions, the gaps in these constructions, as well as the possibilities of transformative change when  these stories are grounded in the accounts of the poor about their lived experiences. Essential to this work then is a commitment to empirically work in contexts of poverty. The CARE team and I spend countless hours conducting participant observations, in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys etc. to arrive at the empirical constructions of experiences of poverty. A CARE project is minimally a product of two to three years of rigorous, field-based empirical work, with strong CARE projects spanning over a decade. However, more importantly, the communicative turn of actually listening to the voices of the poor ensures that we spend many hours collaborating with advisory board members, shaping our research instruments, reflecting on them, and most importantly, undoing and redoing them when and where necessary. The actual lived experiences of collaboration in academic-community partnerships teach us about the mechanisms of communication that work toward generative frameworks that address the needs of the poor as envisioned by them. In this sense, a well conceived culture-centered project becomes one of the poor, turning the tools of research into the hands of the poor, and working through these tools to challenge the misconceptions around poverty that circulate in the mainstream. Reflecting this overarching tenet, the “Voices of Hunger” projects that have been carried across seven countries spanning North America and Asia reflect the value of stories from the margins as shared by the poor in challenging the overarching stereotypes about the poor that are often misguided and factually incorrect. Of course, the sanctity of culture-centered projects rests on the pillar of academic freedom. Moreover, the usefulness of the projects depend upon their ability to engage with policy making. The voices of the poor often offer vital lessons that policy makers ought to pay attention to. Take for instance the narratives of the poor in our fieldwork in India that point to ways in which the Aadhar card, an ID system implemented across India to supposedly streamline the delivery of public services actually fails to deliver these services because of faulty technologies, inaccess to technologies, and the interplays of poverty and technology inacess. As a result, those who are the poorest are often the ones that are being unserved. This narrative emerging from the grassroots not only interrogates the power of a monolithic story, but more importantly, offers a framework for redoing policy. Such lessons are only enabled by a sufficient commitment to academic freedom. Academic freedom enables the inconvenient but empirically grounded stories to emerge. Academic freedom offers in this sense of the CCA an opportunity for thus ultimately developing policy frameworks grounded in the lived experiences and struggles of the poor. Because the narratives of and by the poor fundamentally disrupt the dominant assumptions held by elites, the power of the work of culture-centered approach lies first and foremost in keeping intact these spaces of academic research that are anchored in a steady commitment to authenticity and truth. Rather than telling stories of and by the structure, framing these stories in symbolic artifacts that appeal to the elite, culture-centered stories engage empirically the very bases of these dominant narratives. The CCA has worked, however contingently, across global spaces because the tenets of academic freedom retain the spaces in academe where this work has been carried out and where it continues to be carried out. It is after all, an overarching commitment to the broad ideas of academic freedom that makes possible the continuous search for truth, grounded in the lived experiences of the have-nots in a highly unequal world.

Call for Papers!

Call for Papers!

Mobility, Mobile Media, and Health in Asia: Culture, structure, agency Editor: Mohan J. Dutta, Provost’s Chair Professor, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore Book Series: Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications Series Editor: Sun Sun Lim, Associate Professor, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore

Overview:

In the proposed book, we examine the nature of mobility in mobile health, exploring the ways in which Asian mobilities configure into mobile media and health. The overarching framework of the book explores the intersections between mobile media and health, contextually situated in Asia and theoretically informed by Asia-centric conceptual maps for engaging with the linkages between mobile media and health. In one segment of the book, we examine mHealth projects across Asia, examining the overarching frameworks that constitute these projects, the underlying assumptions, the articulations of culture, and the expressions of agency as communities negotiate their access to and experiences with mHealth solutions. Drawing upon the overarching framework of the culture-centered approach, the book examines the flows of material, labor, and participation in mobile health interventions. Attention is paid to the ways in which mHealth interventions are conceptualized in community contexts, the role of these interventions in engaging with communities, and the constitution of community agency in mHealth interventions. In another segment of the book, we explore the ways in which health is constituted in Asia in the uses of mobile devices. Attention is paid to the vulnerabilities and risks to health constituted by mobile media, and the ways in which communities at the margins negotiate these health risks. The Chapters in this section will explore the health consequences of mobile media uses, and how mobile media products and artifacts are negotiated in the overarching context of health. First, this edited book calls for scholarship across Asia that explores critically the interplays of power and control in mHealth interventions, addresses cultural context, and/or pays attention to the ways in which community agency is conceptualized in the ambits of mHealth Interventions. Based on the cases explored in the book, the overarching framework will examine Asia-centric concepts of health, culture, and technology as conceptualized in the ambits of mHealth Interventions. The book will provide an overarching structure for comparing mHealth cases across Asia, thus developing key theoretical anchors for exploring the linkages between mobility, culture, and structures as communities enact their agency in negotiating mHealth. Second, the book calls for scholarship in Asia that explores the intersections of mobile media and health, and the juxtaposition of mobilities in/through mobile media in the backdrop of health outcomes. Chapters may explore the health outcomes attached to the manufacturing/production/disposal of mobile media, the health outcomes of mobile media uses, and the ways in which health risks/vulnerabilities are negotiated through mobilities afforded by mobile media in Asia. Based on the conceptual anchors offered by Chapters covering Asia, this section of the book will offer comparative conceptual nodes for theorizing health, mobility, and mobile media located in Asia.

Call for abstracts: 

Please submit abstracts outlining the paper. Papers submitted for the book may be theoretical pieces, empirically based pieces, or case studies comparing multiple cases. The important thing is that the Chapters be grounded in the context of Asia and seriously attend to the ways in which context configures in the theorizing of mobility, mobile media, and health. The abstract should spell out how the chapter contributes to the theorizing of mobility and health centered in Asia, drawing on culturally situated concepts that originate from and situate themselves in the Asian context. Abstracts should be no more than 1000 words long. Abstracts selected for submission will be invited to be developed into full papers (between 8000 and 10,000 words in length).

Timeline: 

Call for Abstracts Issued: September 22, 2016 Abstract Submission Deadline: October 30, 2016 Authors Notified: November 15, 2016 Chapters Due: April, 2017 Revisions Requested: May 2017 Final Versions Due: July 2017

Intimate Sites of Violence in Yuppie Indian Cyber Cities

The Cyber sprawl of Yuppie hi-tech Cities across India is intimately marked by violence. Cities such as Noida, Ghaziabad, Cyberabad, and Bangalore narrate stories of violence, both in the expressions of everyday forms of violence that are narrated in the mainstream, and more powerfully so in the everyday forms of violence that remain hidden, tucked away under the glossy images of smart, green cities advertised in the brochures seducing non-resident Indians (NRIs). Often these sordid stories of violence narrated in the Yuppie media and shared in Yuppie networks, scripted as tales of rape, robbery, and murder obfuscate the violence of class, caste, and displacement that remain hidden from the everyday narratives of a Yuppie culture and the mainstream media that caters to this culture. The enunciation of violence, what gets talked about and what doesn’t, is a reflection of the overarching violence of social class and inequality written into the Yuppie City. The telling of these stories enunciate the anxieties of the elite, while simultaneously rendering invisible the profound loss and everyday emotional labour borne by the city’s poor. Violence is the foundation of Yuppie hi-tech cities in India, that have been designed and implemented through displacement. The usurping of farming lands, displacement of farming communities from these lands, and the disenfranchisement of the landless laborers that often tilled these lands are forms of violence that are routinized into the everyday assumptions of the mainstream. These displacements are carried out often through everyday acts of violence, realized through tools of threats, coercion, rapes, and murders. Land mafia, developers, and city planners work hand-in-hand to legitimize the violence of displacement as necessary for growth, and simultaneously render invisible these forms of violence. In the mainstream media of Shining India, these stories of violence are not newsworthy as they don’t draw in the audience of Yuppie viewers, and thus are not ratings-worthy. The poor, dispossessed from their sources of livelihood in a rapidly-displaced agrarian economy settle in make-shift colonies at the peripheries of IT-cities, tucked away beyond and behind the seductions of clean greenness. The manicured lawns, glass buildings, and paved highways make invisible these shanty towns. The everyday work of urban planning and city construction works incessantly to make invisible these warts and moles of the city, carefully sculpted into zoning, urban development, and slum rehabilitation policies.

Even as the poor in the peripheries of the IT-city are displaced further and further from their sources of livelihood, other poorer classes of India, displaced from their sources of local livelihoods in a neoliberal economy, migrate to the peripheries of the IT-cities. They settle in the shanty towns in the periphery, seeking to find informal and unskilled work in the city, hoping to sell their labour to eke out a living. Their labor forms the backbone of the private infrastructures of Yuppie life in the hi-tech cities. Working as guards, nannies, domestic workers, gardeners, cleaners etc., the poor struggle to make a living at the seams of the city. Working as day-labourers at construction sites, they form the backbone of the cities. Their everyday work is the work of cleaning up, of doing the shining for Shining India. How this work is paid for or not paid for, however, depicts the violence of/in the city. Without union representation and without access to collective bargaining, the unskilled poor working in these sectors of the neoliberal economy have no social protections, no health insurance, no workplace insurance, and often no access to pathways of bargaining for a decent wage. Working in an informal economy, with no labour representation and no accessibility to collective mobilization, they often struggle with poor pay, long hours, and no workplace guarantees. For the informal labour in the yuppie city, there is no safety net. There are no leave policies and no days off during the week. From Monday to Monday, seven days a week, 365-days a month, the work carries on. The state offers no protection to these workers in its informal economy. Add to this everyday assault on the poor the attacks on basic human dignity that is experienced on a day-to-day basis. For the Yuppie, the poor must be rendered invisible. The work of making the poor invisible is the work of ritualized symbolic violence. The Yuppie-IT cities are built on dreams of a shining India. For the yuppies living in these cities, the poor are an unwanted but necessary paraphernalia. Necessary to take care of their children, do the domestic chores, and carry out the everyday work. Necessary to keep the appearance of the manicured lawns and the gyms equipped with the latest equipment. Necessary to do the dirty work so the city can shine. Unwanted as the sight of the poor disrupt the shining make-believe worlds the yuppies aspire to live in. The air-conditioned lobbies, lifts, and hallways, the decorated gardens, and spiffy swimming pools are carefully managed to keep out the sites of the working poor. Separate elevators for the maids, gardeners, and the many vendors that serve the city demarcate the spaces of the poor from the spaces of Yuppie comfort. Housing management develop policies of strict gate-keeping to render pure the spaces of Yuppie life, free from contamination by the poor. Swimming pools, gym areas, gardens are quarantined, outside of the reach of the poor.

Elaborate rituals of demarcation mark the bodies of the poor. In the intimate spaces of homes, separate utensils are kept for the domestic worker. The narrative of “hygiene” marks spaces of purity, uncontaminated by the poor. The rituals of boundary formation in everyday life mark the inside and the outside, carrying out the structures of caste in deeply internalized ways. The forms of communication further reproduce these boundaries. The lower caste poor, the domestic worker, the gardener, the guard, must be kept in check, must be disciplined and controlled. The worker must be managed. However, reflecting an inverted world that exists in opposition to the fun IT and finance-work-spaces emulating US-work cultures, the managerial discourses of domestic worker management are devoid of articulations of fundamental worker rights, protection from harassment at workplace, and access to workplace grievance policies.  The violence of everyday abuse is normalized. The violence in intimate spaces of Yuppie cities is a concoction of India’s caste structure, adapted to the workings of class-based inequalities and normalized in a narrative of growth, aspiration, and opportunity. By Prof Mohan Dutta

CARE is recruiting a Freelance Designer!

CARE is looking to recruit a freelance designer! Essential Skills/Experience

  • Candidates should have at least some experience working in similar role i.e. Graphic Designer
  • Knowledge of Adobe Creative suite (PC based) Illustrator for artwork replication
  • Experience in using Photoshop for artwork manipulation
  • Microsoft Word for word based template creation/manipulation
  • Candidate has to be conversant in Malay as we will be working closely with the Malay community for our current project!

Desirable Skills

  • A team player who is able to communicate with people from various backgrounds

If you have a creative mind and you are passionate about working with the community, we would be thrilled to have you. Do apply by sending us your CV and cover letter at contact@care-cca.com.

“Food Insecurity in Singapore: The Communicative (Dis)Value of the Lived Experiences of the Poor”

“Food Insecurity in Singapore: The Communicative (Dis)Value of the Lived Experiences of the Poor” – This journal article co-authored with Naomi Tan, Satveer Kaur, Prof Mohan Dutta, and Nina Venkataraman just got published in the Health Communication! Here is a link for 50 free downloads. Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2016.1196416 Abstract: “Food insecurity is a form of health disparity that results in adverse health outcomes, particularly among disenfranchised and vulnerable populations. Using the culture-centered approach, this article engages with issues of food insecurity, health, and poverty among the low-income community in Singapore. Through 30 in-depth interviews, the narratives of the food insecure are privileged in articulating their lived experiences of food insecurity and in co-constructing meanings of health informed by their sociocultural context, in a space that typically renders them invisible. Arguing that poverty is communicatively sustained through the erasure of subaltern voices from mainstream discourses and policy platforms, we ask the research question: What are the meanings of food insecurity in the everyday experiences of health among the poor in Singapore? Our findings demonstrate that the meanings of health among the food insecure are constituted in culture and materiality, structurally constrained, and ultimately complexify their negotiations of health and health decision making.”

NUS CARE researchers assisting Willing Hearts charity to prepare and distribute food to recipients in Singapore

NUS CARE researchers assisting Willing Hearts charity to prepare and distribute food to recipients in Singapore