CNM’s Participation at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Marie Angela Ordoñez recently presented at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Papua New Guinea Communications Capacity Building Workshop.

Held at the historic Port Moresby between December 7 and 8, the workshop aims to help the government of Papua New Guinea foresee and overcome logistical and communications challenges as the country prepares to host the APEC forums in 2018.

The presentations were based on her experience in coordinating operations as a government communications officer when Philippines hosted APEC in 2015, with topics spanning from media evaluation and messaging traction, to crisis management, and inter-agency coordination and media operations.

Marie, or Magel as we know her in CNM, is currently a 2nd year Master’s candidate. She is working on her thesis with Dr. Elmie Nekmat to examine the formation and effects of public opinion perception on individual expression and information credibility evaluation in social media.

We wish Magel the best for her studies and look forward to her future contribution to the field!

Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India- By Assistant Professor Taberez Ahmed Neyazi

Any generalisation about the Indian media is problematic because there are diverse media systems within the country. The Hindi language media has the widest circulation, reaching almost 40 per cent of India’s total population, and the Hindi- speaking population accounts for over 40 per cent of the national population and is regionally concentrated in the northern and central parts of India. The success of the Hindi media should not be compared with other vernacular language media such as Tamil and Bengali, because the Hindi language press enjoyed state support both during the colonial period and in newly independent India that helped the Hindi media attain privileged status. Hindi, together with other vernacular media, has a far wider reach than the indigenous English media, catering to both elite and popular constituencies, and is a politically significant player. While the English language media is often described as the ‘national media’, its reach is limited to a much smaller percentage of the population – the English-speaking elites and the middle class. The process of political communication is, therefore, more nuanced because of the complexity and diversity of the Indian news media market than in most countries.

Moreover, the complexities associated with the size of the political economy of India requires special focus on how ethnic, religious and sectarian diversity impacts media markets/systems, political campaigning, protest movements and grassroots mobilisation. This is largely because of the many languages in India and the existence of numerous regional and local media systems in vernacular languages. Despite the fact that similar large economic forces operate in the globalising Indian market place, there are still stark socio-cultural differences in the media systems of different states in India and, thus, many media systems exist within one country. At the same time, the process of political communication is affected by the gap between urban and rural, as well as inter- and intra- state differences on various development indicators such as literacy, poverty, urbanisation and media availability. In contrast to many western democracies that have experienced a largely linear process of media evolution with the rise of print followed by radio then television and more recently the cell phone and the internet, India has witnessed tremendous growth across all media simultaneously over the past decade. The non-linear development of India’s communication processes and the proliferation of different sources of information have deepened the fragmentation in the already fragmented media.

Scholars writing about the Indian media tend to overlook these complexities and have focused instead on the Indian media as a singular entity. The lack of political autonomy is another issue that has been raised with respect to television and press. Since the rise of television in the 1990s, there is a growing literature suggesting the rise of ‘infotainment’, ‘Murdochisation of news’ and ‘commodification of news’ without reference to language, in part because these trends are common across most Hindi and vernacular media. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, news media in India has played a significant role in influencing politics and affected the transformation at the grassroots. There is a simultaneous presence of commercialisation and infotainment along with a concern for the poor and the marginalised in the Indian media. This hybrid character is clearly reflected in the Hindi media-mediated democratic transformation, defined here as mobilisation for electoral politics as well as civil society activism.

The core argument of this book is that the Hindi media has played and continues to play a catalytic role as mobilising agents in the ongoing democratic transformation in India. The mobilising role of the Hindi media was also evident in colonial India where the Hindi media aligned with the freedom struggle and helped mobilise public opinion against the British. Instead of viewing the Indian media as a singular entity, this book demonstrates its diversity and complexity to understand the changing dynamics of political communication that is shaped by the interactions among the news media, political parties and diverse public. In the process, I show the ways the media in India tread the diverse space in this comparatively young democracy by encouraging political and social mobilisation while dealing with complex local realities. I also show how the new forms of media are being used by people, movements and political parties for social and political mobilisation in a rapidly transforming media environment.

I provide insights into the profound and messy, yet quiet, transformations taking place in the countryside and small towns, away from the glare of the Delhi-based TV studios. In a growing economy such as India’s, what role do media play in mobilising political awareness? What role does the Hindi language media, accessed by over 40 per cent of the people, play in building this political awareness? And when nearly 30 per cent of the population is illiterate, how is the work of the media relevant to their lives?

This study is located in the larger context of mobilisation and political awakening that is growing at the grassroots level in India, and at an important juncture in the evolution of the Indian state when the Indian economy is increasingly driven by a private sector orientation after the economy began to open up after the financial crisis in 1991. Critics have questioned whether the neo-liberal measures have really helped improve life chances for the marginalised through betterment of education, health and job opportunities. This is where the rise of the vernacular media, which started to discuss local issues, politics and society of its own local public, assumes significance, since media plays both an important and a critical role in evaluating the day-to-day functioning of the state and society. There have also been growing debates about the increasing influence of markets and governments in the functioning of the media. Several studies have analysed the ramifications of the corporatisation of the media and ownership concentration for democracy. Along with the increasing commercialisation of media in India, there is a cosy relationship between the government, the media and corporations, as well as the issue of opaque media ownership. The phenomena of paid news, where media outlets produce content on behalf of politicians, celebrities and companies for payment that is passed off as news and not advertising, is a serious challenge that questions the independence of Indian media from external influence.

The instrumentalisation of media, where proprietors use media to advance their political and business interests outside of publishing instead of serving the public, is a major concern in the current context. Despite making financial losses, the media business offers disproportionate political gains and, hence, the media business cannot be understood solely in terms of profits and losses on the books or the way conventional businesses operate. The political elites, by using their power and political muscle, have inhibited news diversity and undermined the potential of the media to offer diverse perspectives on issues. The political economy of the media and convoluted media ownership is thus more complex in the Indian context than in other nations.

In my book- Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India– I focus both on mobilisation for electoral politics, which has been the main concern of political scientists, as well as provide cases of grassroots mobilisation where citizens and groups from different class and caste backgrounds actively participate in mediated public arena activities. The book examines recent developments such as the movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare that propelled him and the country into world news throughout 2011 and mobilisation in the 2014 national election campaigns, and examines the interactions between traditional and social media and how they have changed the structures and dynamics of political communication in contemporary India.

Assistant Professor Taberez A Neyazi’s book, Political Communication and Mobilisation: The Hindi Media in India, is published by Cambridge University Press, and is out now.

CNM Research Talk: See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception, The Sensory Apparatus And The Future Of Human- Presented By Professor Madeline Schwartzman

Abstract:

Did you know that we can see with our tongue? Will robotic hair become our next important digital tool? What ways will we use technology to remember plants after they have been destroyed? Madeline Schwartzman presents her research of artists and designers exploring the future of the human senses, the human head, and our technological relationship with nature. Her talk stems from her personal design, architecture, and artistic practices along with her research from her two books and current exhibition.

See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception (2011)– is the first book to survey the fascinating intersection between design, the body and the senses over the last fifty years, from the utopian pods, pneumatics and head gear of the 1960’s, to the high-tech prostheses, wearable computing, implants, and interfaces between computers and the human nervous system of the recent decade.

See Yourself X focuses in on our fundamental perceptual domain- the human head—presenting an array of conceptual and constructed ideas for extending ourselves physically into space. This includes all forms of physical head augmentation, including new organs, hair extensions and hairdos, masks, head constructions and gear, headdresses, prosthetics and helmets by artists, designers, inventors and scientists.

See Yourself E(x)ist looks at how artists envision our human future in nature- our poetic attempts at agency, our technological advances, and our futile role in the intricate and complex web of all living things.The art acknowledges the elegance of futility, the strangeness of attempts at permanence, and the absurdity of technological advances.

Speaker: 

Madeline Schwartzman is professor at Columbia, Barnard and Parsons. This writer, filmmaker and architect explores human narratives between art, design, technology and nature. Her books, See Yourself Sensing, See Yourself X and current exhibition See Yourself E(x)ist propose insights into a weird and wonderful future.

20 February 2018
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

NUS Central Library
CLB-04-04, Theatrette 1

Register at cnmn.us/exist.

CNM Research Talk: Making Sense of Public Culture- Presented By Professor Nikos Papastergiadis

Abstract:

In this lecture, Professor Nikos Papastergiadis explores the challenge of making sense of culture that occurs in public spaces. Unlike the performances and displays of culture within interior spaces, the experience of culture in an urban and networked public environment presents new challenges for cultural interpretation and evaluation. Relying on traditional art historical categories or emergent digital ethnographic tools may be either too narrow or too focused on technological affordances. Instead, he proposes to explore a new conceptual approach that seeks to grasp the wide range of artistic projects and diverse modes of public interaction. It will draw on research conducted at Melbourne’s Federation Square to discuss how the concept of ambience helps make sense of both the production and experience of public culture.

The first section of the article introduces the changing settings for culture: from an almost exclusively interior presentation to an increasingly mediated, networked and outdoor experience.

The second section situates this exteriorisation of culture in terms of a shifting urban environment that is increasingly interwoven with media networks, systems and infrastructure. This section also introduces the case study: Melbourne’s Federation Square.

The third section describes some of the different forms of engagement that take place in Federation Square and how this problematises traditional expectations of cultural experiences. Finally, he concludes with a reflection on these findings and draws out implications for cultural programming of public space.

Speaker: 

Nikos Papastergiadis Professor at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He studied at the University of Melbourne and University of Cambridge. Prior to returning to the University of Melbourne he was a lecturer at the University of Manchester. T His sole authored publications include Modernity as Exile (1993), Dialogues in the Diaspora (1998), The Turbulence of Migration (2000), Metaphor and Tension (2004) Spatial Aesthetics: Art Place and the Everyday (2006), Cosmopolitanism and Culture (2012), Ambient Perspectives (2013) as well as being the editor of over 10 collections, author of numerous essays which have been translated into over a dozen languages and appeared in major catalogues such as the Biennales of Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Gwanju, Taipei, Lyon, Thessaloniki and Documenta 13. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and co-chair of the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture, and Chair of the International Advisory Board for the Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore.

7 February 2018
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
National University of Singapore
Blk AS6, #03-38, CNM Playroom

Register at cnmn.us/publicculture.