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Local colour in German and Danish Television Drama: Tatort and Bron//Broen

Susanne Eichner & Anne Marit Waade | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The impact of place and locality in narrative media can be regarded as seminal for the medium’s function of communicating culture and negotiating societal discourses. As a result of the growing attention in globalisation theory and transnational considerations, space and place have become key issues to understanding the circulation of cultural commodities within an increasingly global and supra-national context. Taking the case of two popular contemporary European crime series, the German series Tatort and the Danish/Swedish series Bron//Broen, our aim is to focus on and carve out local colour as an aesthetic textual strategy, as well as relate it to a production context and to a broader discussion of the region/nation and the transnational/global. We argue that local colour can be located at three different levels: Firstly, on the level of representation as part of an overall narrative and aesthetic strategy that produces structures of appeal for the audiences. Secondly, within the frame of production, public broadcasting service, and policy that stage the general preconditions of cultural products. Thirdly, we regard locality as commodity and cultural consumption (e.g. branding, tourism, investments). Local colour and the representation of places evoke different concepts of imagined communities related to the regional and the national, but also the global and transnational.

Fictional politics on TV: Comparing the representations of political reality in the US-series The West Wing and the German series Kanzleramt

Cordula Nitsch & Christiane Eilders | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: It is generally agreed upon that fictional stories can serve as sources for the audience’s perceptions of reality. This also includes the political realm. Our paper examines the fictional representation of politics in the U.S. series The West Wing and its German adaption, Kanzleramt. The comparative content analysis concentrates on political actors and political themes as key parameters of fictional politics. It investigates whether the national political context is reflected in the political dramas. Results show a rather small impact of national contexts. This indicates that the logic of fictionalization levels out national differences in shaping fictional politics.

Contemporary TV Drama Series

Florian Huber & Elisabeth Klaus | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: Technological developments, especially the Internet, have changed the medium „television“ profoundly. On the one hand, media convergence means watching television is no longer limited to a singular box with one screen. On the other hand, this is connected to profound changes in programming content. In addition to cheaper formats like daily talks and Reality-TV, complex and expensive television series, rather vaguely referred to as „Quality-TV“, have conquered the TV market. They are sold internationally and aimed at an affluent, dedicated audience. The articles in this issue of the Global Media Journal deal with different aspects of what we refer to as „Contemporary Television Series“, a less evaluative term. The transnational character of the shows is highlighted in two of the articles, while three authors focus on the perspective of the audience. The final two contributions grapple with the issue of quality as strategies of cultural legitimation and its aesthetic and ideological sides.

Review: „…weil ihre Kultur so ist“. Narrative des antimuslimischen Rassismus

Shooman, Yasemin (2014): „…weil ihre Kultur so ist“. Narrative des antimuslimischen Rassismus. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag. 260 Seiten,
ISBN 978-3-8376-2866-1

Sabrina Schmidt, Universität Erfurt

Antimuslimische Diskurse wirken tief in die Gesellschaften Deutschlands und Europas hinein, ihre Erscheinungsformen sind vielfältig. Als symbolische Ressourcen sind sie zu einem festen Bestandteil von Medienbildern, rechts-populistischen Losungen und zivilgesellschaft-lichen Dispositionen geworden. Yasemin Shoomans Buch „…weil ihre Kultur so ist“. Narrative des antimuslimischen Rassismus macht es sich zur Aufgabe, die Argumentationsmuster dieser Diskurse zu rekonstruieren und in ihrer Beschaffenheit zu analysieren. Ihr Ziel sei es, „eine Art ‚Topographie‘ der dominanten antimuslimischen Stereotype und Topoi abzubilden und zu ermitteln, inwiefern sich diese zu einem Narrativ bzw. mehreren Narrativen zusammensetzen“ (S. 16). Schon die elliptische Form des Titels verweist auf die unbedarfte Simplizität und multiple Einsatzfähigkeit eben jener Begründungs- und Legitimationsweisen, die sich im Sprechen über den muslimischen Anderen schon fast zu einer lebensweltlichen, d.h. unbefragten Selbstverständlichkeit (im Sinne Alfred Schütz‘) manifestiert haben. Shooman fasst den antimuslimischen Rassismus als ein komplexes Geflecht, in dem verschiedene Klassifikationssysteme, neben Religion und Kultur auch Klasse und Geschlecht, ineinandergreifen. Dieser Rassismus basiert – ganz im Sinne der klassischen Rassismus-Definition nach Robert Miles – auf der Rassifizierung seiner Objekte, das heißt der Festlegung und Kollektivierung einer tatsächlichen bzw. zugeschriebenen Religiosität als primordiale Eigenschaft und Verhaltensdeterminante.

In kleineren Fallstudien analysiert Shooman antimuslimische Diskurse in verschiedenen Öffentlichkeitformen (Massenmedien und Sachbücher, Weblogs und Kommentarbereiche von Online-Zeitungen, Zuschriften an muslimische bzw. türkische Verbände), wobei sie sich nicht nur für die inhaltlichen Strukturen, sondern auch für die Funktionslogik rassistischer Islamdiskurse interessiert. Vergleichend expliziert sie zudem argumentative Transfers und Verweise sowie Diskontinuitäten und Widersprüche innerhalb und zwischen den untersuchten Öffentlichkeitsformen. Ein besonderes Augenmerk legt die Autorin auf die historische und soziopolitische Kontextualisierung der untersuchten Wahrnehmungs- und Argumentationsmuster, die sie mit Michel Foucault und Rainer Keller als kollektive, dabei jedoch zeitlich flexible Wissensformationen versteht. Entsprechend erscheint der methodische Zugang über ein diskursanalytisches Verfahren insofern logisch, als es symbolische Dominanzverhältnisse und Sagbarkeitsgrenzen aufzudecken vermag, die sich in und durch Sprache manifestieren und in materielle Ausgrenzungspraxen übersetzt werden können. Nicht zuletzt gebe die Analyse von „Diskursverschränkungen“ Auskunft über das „intersektionale Zusammenwirken verschiedener Dimensionen der sozialen Ungleichheit – wie Rasse, Ethnizität, Kultur, Religion, Geschlecht oder auch Klasse“ (S. 20f.).

Die als Dissertationsschrift am Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung der Technischen Universität Berlin vorgelegte Arbeit untergliedert sich in fünf Teile und ist in einem sehr ansprechenden, eingängigen Stil verfasst. Während die Autorin in der Einleitung erste grundlegende Begriffsbestimmungen zu den Analyseeinheiten Topos, Narrativ und Diskurs vornimmt sowie den Nutzen des diskursanalytischen Vorgehens erörtert, zeichnet sie im ersten Teil von Kapitel 2 die historischen Linien und diskursiven Transformationen des antimuslimischen Rassismus mit Fokus auf Deutschland und Europa nach. Shooman zeigt auf, dass die Markierung von Musliminnen und Muslimen als gesellschaftlich und kulturell nicht zugehörig – diskursive Grenzziehungen wie sie sich etwa in politischen Leitkulturdebatten beobachten ließen – auf tradierten und zum Teil bereits im Mittelalter kolportierten Feindbildern beruhen. Darüber hinaus arbeitet die Autorin Brüche und Verschiebungen in der symbolischen Konstruktion muslimischen Fremdseins heraus. Während Muslime in Europa etwa zu Zeiten der Kreuzzüge noch als „militärische Gegner“ und „Kontrahenten“ stereotypisiert worden seien, hätten der europäische Kolonialismus und dessen diskursive Legitimationspraxis, der Orientalismus (Edward Said), für eine Exotisierung und Inferiorisierung des „Orients“ gesorgt (S. 43ff.): Haremsphantasien und die Vorstellung von zivilisatorischer Rückständigkeit seien hierbei von Bedeutung. Später hätten neben postkolonialen Migrationsbewegungen auch Anwerbeabkommen die europäische Wahrnehmung verschoben. Aus dem „äußeren Feind“ sei der „Andere im Innern“ geworden (S. 40f.). Shooman argumentiert überzeugend, dass die Funktion dieser Fremdmarkierung dabei zu jeder Zeit in der spiegelbildlichen Festschreibung einer eigenen kollektiven Identität bestand, deren Zweck es auch gewesen sei, Differenzen innerhalb der Eigengruppe auszublenden.

Der zweite Teil des Kapitels stellt eine theoretische Einordnung des antimuslimischen Rassismus im Feld der Rassismusforschung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Dimensionen Kultur, Ethnizität, Religion, Geschlecht und Klasse dar. Aufschlussreich ist dabei die Beobachtung Shoomans, dass in der Fremdmarkierung von Muslimen zunehmend deren (zugeschriebene) religiöse bzw. kulturelle Identität als dominantes Differenzkriterium symbolisch aufgeladen wurde – anders als Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts, als man Muslime in Deutschland entlang der Kategorien Ethnizität und Nationalität noch als „Gastarbeiter“ und „Türken“ bezeichnete. Unter Berücksichtigung etablierter Rassismustheorien verdeutlicht Shooman, dass sich im antimuslimischen Rassismus Versatzstücke des biologistischen Rassismus‘ – etwa im Kontext des racial profiling, bei dem versucht werde, Muslime anhand ihres Aussehens zu klassifizieren (S. 65) – mit neorassistischen Diskursen verzahnen. Diese warnten vor dem Werteverlust im „Westen“ durch die Ausbreitung „fremder“ Kulturen, vor allem der islamischen, die als inkompatibel und minderwertig markiert wird. Neben den Dimensionen Kultur, Religion und Ethnizität sind im anti-muslimischen Rassismus aber auch Vorstellungen von Muslimen als Angehörige minderer sozialer Schichten eingeflochten, so wenn Muslime mit Thilo Sarrazin als Belastung für das deutsche Sozialsystem präsentiert würden (S. 75). Die Autorin bewertet diese „Klassen“-Referenz als Ausgrenzungsstrategie, mittels derer materielle und symbolische Teilhabemöglichkeiten von Muslimen beschnitten würden.

Kapitel 3 umfasst die erste von mehreren empirischen Teilstudien der Arbeit. Diese setzt sich mit Geschlechterbildern im Kontext rassistischer Islamdiskurse auseinander, wobei neben eigenen Topoi (etwa von der „gefährlichen Muslimin“) auch die Rolle islamkritischer muslimischer Sprecherinnen als vermeintlich „authentische Stimmen“ von Shooman herausgearbeitet werden. Auf Basis einer empirischen Analyse von journalistischen Beiträgen und Magazincovern, politischen Werbeplakaten und Karikaturen zeigt sie auf, dass sich in der Ikonographie der muslimischen Frau stets dieselben visuellen Stereotype vorfinden lassen: die Unterdrückte, Rechtlose, deren inhumane Behandlung durch gewaltaffine Männer vom Islam legitimiert sei. Die Verknüpfung von sexistisch motivierter Gewalt und Islam erfülle laut Shooman verschiedene Funktionen, so etwa die Dichotomisierung von „westlicher“ und „islamischer“ Kultur, aber auch das Ausblenden von Gewalt gegen Frauen und die Geschlechterungleichheit in nicht-muslimischen Gesellschaften (S. 86f.).

Kapitel 4 und 5 wenden sich fallstudienartig den Islamdiskursen innerhalb dreier unterschiedlicher öffentlicher Räume zu: Zum einen der massenmedialen Rezeption der ersten Islamkonferenz durch FAZ und DIE WELT; zum anderen den Netzdiskursen auf islamfeindlichen Internetseiten und Weblogs wie „politically incorrect“ oder „jihadwatch.org“ sowie drittens Verbandszuschriften als Form nicht-öffentlicher Kommunikation. Während sich die theoretisch herausgearbeiteten Spezifika des antimuslimischen Rassismus teilweise in der Berichterstattung etablierter Medien wiederfinden lassen – etwa in der Anwendung binärer Klassifikationssysteme à la „Wir-vs.-Sie“ und der daraus folgenden Festschreibung der Muslime als ewig „Andere“ (S. 139), beobachtet die Autorin im weitestgehend anonymen Diskurraum Internet eine Enthemmung und ideologische Verfestigung des Negativbildes Islam. Verschwörungstheorien und Bedrohungsszenarien über die vermeintliche Unterwanderung Europas durch den Islam („Islamisierungs“-Topos), offene Beleidigungen von muslimischen Vertretern und Politikern sowie (erfolgreiche) Versuche, sich auch außerhalb des Internets zu vernetzen und zu mobilisieren, seien hierfür charakteristisch. Shooman stellt fest, dass sich ein ähnlich radikaler, dafür jedoch überwiegend mit den Klarnamen der Absenderinnen und Absender operierender Diskurs in den Zuschriften an muslimische bzw. türkische Verbände nachweisen lässt. So sei das in den Briefen zum Ausdruck kommende Alltagswissen über den Islam u.a. geprägt von negativen Pauschalurteilen über Muslime und dem Selbstverständnis der Schreibenden, sich im Sinne der deutschen Mehrheitsmeinung zu artikulieren (S. 216). Shooman interpretiert dies mit Verweis auf die Sprechakttheorie plausibel als Akte symbolischer Gewalt.

Mit ihrer detailgenauen Zusammenschau dominanter Argumentationstopoi antimuslimischer Diskurse stellt die Arbeit gerade für Einsteiger in die Gegenstandsbereiche Rassismus und Islamfeindlichkeit eine empfehlenswerte Lektüre dar. Positiv herauszuheben ist die Anschaulichkeit und Stringenz der Analyse einzelner Diskursmuster und ihrer historischen Transformationen, die die Autorin durch eine dichte Verzahnung von theoretischen Überlegungen und empirischer Beweisführung erreicht. Kennern des Feldes wird die ein oder andere Erkenntnis, etwa dass sich antimuslimische Diskurse in den etablierten Massenmedien nicht erst mit den Ereignissen um 9/11 formiert haben oder dass die medialen Repräsentationen muslimischer Frauen mit Deutungsangeboten rund um Rechtlosigkeit und Gewalterfahrung operieren, nicht neu sein. Zudem wären Fallstudien etwa zu Muslim(a)-Bildern in popkulturellen Formaten wie Kinofilmen und TV-Serien, aber auch im Rahmen von Satire und Comedy oder Kinder- und Jugendliteratur im Vergleich zu einer bereits mehrfach wissenschaftlich verarbeiteten Zeitschriftencover-Analyse innovativ und für den bewanderten Leser aufschlussreich gewesen.

Review: Media Systems and Communication Policies in Latin America

Manuel Alejandro Guerrero & Mireya Márquez-Ramírez (eds.) (2014): Media Systems and Communication Policies in Latin America. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 318 pages. ISBN: 9781137409041

Patricia Carolina Saucedo Añez, University of Erfurt

In Media Systems and Communication Policies in Latin America, Manuel Alejandro Guerrero and Mireya Márquez-Ramírez have gathered the work of renowned Latin American scholars from the field of Media and Communication Studies in order to discuss continuities and changes within Latin American media systems. The editors aim to update the English language literature on the media systems of the region; the literature on this subject is scarce and does not properly reflect the dynamic changes that have taken place during the last fifteen years in the region, especially in Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Guerrero and Márquez-Ramírez delve into the history of the media in the region, which is known for its collaboration with former authoritarian regimes during the 1960s up to the 1980s. Over decades, alliances and client relationships between the media, military dictatorships and political elites (who are often also media owners) led to a concentration of control over Latin American media by a few families and later on by a few media barons and groups such as Globo in Brazil, Televisa and TV Azteca in Mexico and Clarín in Argentina. These relationships between the media and political elites also continued during the democratization process where the owners of media outlets took advantage of democratic liberalization and privatization during the 1980s as well as the application of neoliberal politics during the 1990s.

The editors provide a useful framework to analyse and compare different media systems in Latin American countries. Firstly, they contest the typology of Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini (liberal, democratic corporatist and polarized pluralist media systems) and delve into the similarities between the Latin American case and the media landscape in Southern Europe, as proposed by Hallin and Stylianos Papathanassopoulos in an earlier paper in 2002. Hallin and Papathanassopoulos use the examples of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia to compare Latin American media systems to countries in the Mediterranean (Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal). The media systems in these countries are characterized as polarized pluralist media systems, whereas in Northern and central European countries, political parties are represented in the media and the state and government intervene regarding content and editorial policies. Furthermore, the polarized pluralist model is characterized by client relationships between media, business and political sectors. However, Guerrero and Márquez-Ramírez feel it is necessary to delineate a new ideal hybrid type for Latin America according to recent developments. Thus, by analysing the changes in the Latin American media sector, the editors and contributors of this book explore the specific hybrid and alternative patterns in the region going beyond this model. In Latin America, neither commercial media nor state intervention is synonymous with liberalization or enhancement and protection of the common interest; privately owned media can also be politically and economically instrumentalized.

Although the concentration of media property within a few private groups and the control of the media landscape by them are still central characteristics of the media in the majority of the countries in the region, there are new developments linked to various left-oriented politicians taking office, such as Hugo Chávez and later Nicolás Maduro (Venezuela), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina), Eduardo Correa (Ecuador) and Evo Morales (Bolivia). By creating a new legal framework on media policy and reforming existing media laws, these presidents chose to take action on the issue of the concentration of media ownership in a few hands in order to combat the historical media concentration on hegemonic traditional media groups linked to traditional political and economic elites who are often enemies of these governments. However, the editors express their doubts about the apparent good intentions behind these decisions, and stress that media policies have become a standard object in the political discourse in Latin America used by both sides of the dispute. On the one hand, left-oriented governments claim that new media policies and media-related legal systems are used to put an end to the media hegemony of the elites and to allow marginalized groups to access and participate in the media. On the other hand, hegemonic media and oppositional political actors accuse these governments of limiting the right to public expression of contrary opinions by regulating media policies and by setting up a media-related legal system according to their liking.

The editors go on to prove that left-oriented leaders claim they are combating the concentration of media ownership and the interests of economic elites therein. These leaders argue that they had improved access to the media for traditionally excluded and marginalized groups. However, the authors show that media owners blame the left-wing governments for limiting freedom of the press by introducing these regula-tions, and they argue that even progressive media policies can be used to penalize unfavourable media agendas by punishing oppositional media, for example with regu-lations regarding media property or by expropriating and assigning new media licenses to media agents that are on better terms with the government.

With these new considerations in mind, the first two chapters come up with a general framework to analyse the developments in the region, looking specifically at certain historical situations and global changes. In the first chapter, Silvio Waisbord argues that the changes in political and media relations taking place in Latin America cannot be interpreted by looking at them through the lens of the globalization paradigm. He argues that domestic politics should be included in global media studies.

In the second chapter, Manuel Alejandro Guerrero carves out a specific model of media systems, which can be applied to the situation in Latin America. He calls this ideal type “captured liberal model”, an oxymoron which reflects the contradictions of public life in Latin America. The absence and dissolution of media regulations as a consequence of neoliberal politics or through severe mistakes in applying regulations (e.g. the trend toward concentration of media markets; the influence of public spending on advertising; the colonization of media structures by the political class and of political spaces by media agents) lead to the interference of political actors in media coverage and journalistic practices (e.g. absence of adequate mechanisms of protection for journalists; influence of political and corporate interests in journalistic work).

Subsequent chapters show and analyse the situation in various countries: Colombia (Chapter 3); Peru (Chapter 4); Argentina (Chapters 5 and 10); El Salvador (Chapter 6); Guatemala (Chapter 7); Venezuela (Chapter 8); Bolivia (Chapter 9); Brazil (Chapters 11 and 12); Chile (Chapter 14) and Mexico (Chapter 15). In chapter 13, Stella Puente offers an analysis of the market orientation of Spanish-language publishing industries.

Finally, the editors conclude that Latin American media systems share a common historical development of being molded after the US commercial model, which, in theory, makes a formal distinction between state and media markets. However, local, private advertising markets are not strong enough to support the entire media structure. In practice, Latin American media depends on local and national government advertising and government-assigned funds. Additionally, media structures have been consolidated and strongly depend on various political groups. Media owners took ad-vantage of authoritarian regimes and after the transition to democracy, media owner-ship structures remained virtually intact. Moreover, privatization and deregulation processes encouraged the formation and consolidation of media conglomerates. Finally, the trend towards deregulation as well as weak and inefficient law or the discretionary application of law can be contributed to the private economy (e.g. the analysed cases of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru) and political interests (Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela) taking over the media system.

This book is a compulsory reading for anyone researching Latin American media, because it offers an up-to-date look at media developments in the region. The question remains, however, whether the relatively new developments in Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador are not yet another new hybrid manifestation which is different from the “captured liberal model”, marked by a strong state intervention in media politics and, above all, by struggles between state, media, economic and political actors. Placing these cases under the same umbrella of the captured liberal model underestimates the role of state interventions concerning the emergence of these four specific cases where liberalism is decreasing. In this context, media and audiences are caught in a type of “tug of war”, between the state on the one side, tugging and trying to grab power from the historical hegemonic media barons on the other side. Time will tell which side will win this “tug of war” taking place in Latin America.

Review: The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Carter, Cynthia; Steiner, Linda; McLaughlin, Lisa (eds.) (2014): The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender. Routledge. 672 pages. ISBN: 978-0-415-52769-9 (hbk), ISBN: 978-0-203-06691-1 (ebk)

Christine Horz, Frankfurt

The research field of gender and media today is well established in communication studies. For those studying and teaching in undergraduate courses, however, it could be difficult to find accessible and up-to-date- reading material from the various fields of Gender Media Studies (GMS), across media, texts and genres.
The editors of the Routledge Companion to Media and Gender succeeded to present a comprehensive and impressive overview on five different themes with 59 contributions on 670 pages. The compendium shows to be extremely useful for students and lecturers in international courses with English-speaking undergraduates in non-English countries, i.e Germany, because of the scarcity of academic English literature about gender and media in many university libraries. The articles in the book are mostly condensed on ten pages. For some subjects this seems to be pretty short. Few articles lack some basic information, charts or data, which would make it easier to comprehend without previous knowledge. However, the critical perspective of most articles helps to open up particular research arenas and stimulate interest, which is an opportunity for a more detailed consideration. Moreover, a strength of the book are the transnational and transcultural perspectives on GMS. It comprises articles and topics from various cultural and national backgrounds.

The compendium is structured into five parts. Part I begins with „Her/histories“. This chapter offers an overview of various approaches and important topics of GMS. The first article can be seen as an introduction into this chapter. In „Media and the representation of gender“ Margaret Gallagher (23) gives examples of historic milestones in GMS such as Tuchman’s study about images of men and women in the media, the links of media image and ideology, when it comes to the representation of women of colour, and also feminist discourses and feminist media activism.
In „Redescovering twentieth-century feminist audience research” (Hermes, 61) for example the author argues that multi-platform media and increasing interactivity today tends to blur media production with media consumption (67). In this context ethnographic audience research relating to audio-visual popular cultures of the 1980s and 90s needs to be rethought, in order to understand the existing power relations, still valid in a prosumer culture. As such, this is not a particulary new observation, but still offers a starting point for further investigation of more recent studies.
The strong point of Part I is its inclusion of current theoretical approaches like intersectional feminist media studies (Molina-Guzman/Cacho, 71). Their article provides a literature review „on women of colour feminism and queer of colour critique“ (72) in European and US research. A useful definition of intersectionality and its theoretical foundations is followed by case studies in the field. As such the authors makes clear how gender inequality and racialisation build a dynamic interplay of „symbolic colonization“ in media content (77). The first part of the compendium also refers to recent topics like trans-identities in the 21st century, i.e. „Sexualities/queer identities“ (Yue, 81) and „Gender, media, and trans/national spaces“ (Hegde, 92).

Part II picks up subjects around „Media industries, labor, and policy“ (103). Carolyn M. Byerly (105) explores the important matter of the missing female representation in media control and the macro-level as such. Using the example of big transnational corporations such as Time Warner or Disney she provides data of the number and percentage of women involved on the policy level in the boards of the companies (108). Whereas in Disney four out of ten board-members are female, in the Germany-based Bertelsmann AG only five out of twenty-one members are women. The author unveils also the reason why or why not companies tend to accept women in their highest control and decision body.

In “Gender inequality in culture industries“ Denis D. Bielby explores the „unequal distribution of employment and earnings between men and women in the culture industries of film, television, and music, among others such as video games“ (137). Bielby goes back to the beginning of Hollywood to show how the studio system, where women played major roles, transformed into a centralized industry where female writers and actors became marginalized. The commercial aspect is once more considered in Dafna Limish’s „Boys are… girls are…“(179). She explains how children’s media and merchandising construct gender, i.e by exploiting female bodies for sexualized representations – even in movies for kindergarden-kids. This part clearly shows the socio-political dimension of gender inequality and a neoliberal market economy. It also becomes obvious that the editors strove to acquire articles that put an emphasis on comparative research about women and men/girls and boys.

Part III – „Images and representations across texts and genres“ (257) – presents mainly case studies from different parts of the world like a piece about a South-African miniseries, Society (Bradfield, 280). Other than Western television series, Society „offers a unique perspective on the feminine possibilities available to women in post-apartheid South-Africa“ (ibid.). Also beauty regimes in India, that are inflicted by European and US-American beauty norms (Parameswaran, 363) and a gendered perspective on Islamophobia implied by the representation of the Islamic veil in Western media are discussed (Eltantawy, 384). The transnational perspective of the compendium shows its potential here, because the signs of intersectionality and the erosion of solidarity in Western feminism with women from other parts of the world, their different beliefs and socio-economic status could best be encountered with a de-westernized research focus.

Part IV concentrates on „Media audiences, users, and prosumers“ (407) and as the title promises research about all types of media, from TV to radio to social media and also digital games is presented here. Da Viault’s and Schott’s article for example tackles the issue of gender portrayal within gaming (440). The hot topic of cyberfeminism is set against the events, known as Arab Spring (Khamis, 565).

Part V, entitled „Gendered media futures and the future of gender“ (577), is conceptualised as an outlook. Topics like post-feminism (Lumby, 600) consider the actual feminist discourse in the light of it’s historic development. Whereas the term postfeminism for some mark the point where all feminist goals already have been achievedothers use it to differentiate between second generation feminists from the 1960th and 70th and younger women who fight for equality with men and not against them. A third explanation leans to a far more nuanced perspective based on postructuralism which is by no means defined by now. Lumby however, offers an insight into the various discussions on the conceptualization of post-feminism and proposes a concept of post-postfeminism.

An article about the crisis of masculinity (Malin, 610) reflects on media and the male image, i.e. the hypersexual character in US-American movies and series of the 1990th like Sopranos. Today, with less traditional perspectives on masculinity hypersexuality – and it’s attributed whiteness, heterosexuality and aggression – is also used for parody or with an ironic reflexivity of the male character.
Leurs and Ponzanesi (632) explore forms of intersectionality and digital identities on a case study of Moroccan youth in The Netherlands. They conclude that migrant youths use Social Media for identity formation, to create a realm of their own and to connect with the majority of society.

Looked at the parts and the companion in its entirety the reader conveys an idea of the wide span of different topics in GMS. Also, two strong undercurrents (and conflicting areas) of gender and the media unfold while reading: the neoliberal market ideology as a strong frame for the representation and participation of men and women in the media, but also counterpublics and –cultures that perceive women and men not only as consumers or sexualized bodies, but also as active citizens. On the other hand the companion by definition is only able to mark out the complexity of the discourse, but is certainly not sufficient to mirror in-depth-results of Gender Media Studies. However, the up-to-datedness, as well as the transnational and transcultural approach makes it a vade-mecum particularly recommendable for students and lecturers in various degree programmes like communication studies, media studies, or gender studies.

Review: Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora

Ajaya Kumar Sahoo and Johannes G. De Kruijf (eds.) (2014): Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora. Ashgate. 228 pages. ISBN 978-1-4724-1913-2

Fritzi-Marie Titzmann, Leipzig

The recently published anthology brings together a heterogeneous group of scholars. While some contributors are already well known for their previous work on diasporic and transnational “Indianness” such as Urmila Goel on the Indian diaspora in Germany, Vinay Lal on Hinduism in the USA, and Ananda Mitra on Indian diasporic websites, others are young scholars entering the field of study with innovative ideas and approaches. Remarkable is the diversity of disciplinary backgrounds.
The content is divided into two sections focusing on Identity (Chapter 1-6) and Power (Chapter 7-9) but the book’s focal point clearly is – by referring to Anthony Giddens – reflexive self-identity enabled and encouraged by the Internet. This identity changes over time, develops, transforms, and adapts to varying life-phases. While building on the assumption that life-circumstances generated by migration are particularly challenging for negotiations of identity and belonging, studies of transnationalism comprise dynamics abroad as well as in the respective home countries. Most of the chapters do include different localities in this sense, though a strong focus on the Indian diaspora in the USA remains.
The editors acknowledge in the preface that they do not touch upon dynamics of exclusion (or the ‘digital divide’) and misuse of new technologies but they mention these questions as following from the papers presented in the volume.
The book bears testimony to the ongoing trend of internet studies with a focus on migration and connectivity. The comprehensive Introduction by De Kruijf presents theoretical frameworks, outlines dominant theories on transnationalism, diaspora, and self-identity and its linkages with emerging digital cultures. Although he refers to notions that are introduced in the following chapters, it is not a new question under which the papers have been compiled. De Kruijf rather situates the chapters as case studies in an existing corpus of theoretical and empirical studies. While the book is overall very well edited, only a fraction of the works and authors cited in the comprehensive Introduction are listed under references. This is a very unfortunate mistake, as particularly the literature overview would be very helpful to readers who are new to this area of research.

In Chapter 1, Usha Raman and Sumana Kasturi follow three women bloggers, located between the USA and India. The analysis suggests that a transnational identity is created through the act of blogging. They come to the conclusion that diasporic media practices may serve both to preserve traditionalism and to facilitate the performance of a liberal, cosmopolitan subjectivity. This view is based on the understanding that new media do not imply an ideology of its users per se and should be rather seen as value-free tools.
By drawing mainly from his own theoretical work on identity in a cybernetic space (“that is produced at the congruence of the real and the digital”, p.47), Ananda Mitra presents his prediction that the ‘national Indian’ will vanish and a ‘trans-Indian’ will dominate the future (Chap.2). He argues for “a ‘trans-national’ who has expanded opportunities to reformulate both the self and the place that the self dwells in” (p.47). Thus, ‘trans-Indian’ can describe diasporic identity constructions as well as identity discourses of Indians situated in India. Crucial are the creation of a virtual presence and the connectivity of this person – marked as Indian – with discourses and cultural practices from any chosen part of the world. While Mitra’s conceptualization is interesting because of its multilateralism, his concept is restricted to a certain class made up of professional migrants and urban upper-middle classes who do create digital selves. His prediction leaves out a vast majority who is not only denied access to the digital world but also does not partake in the described processes of “Americanization” in India.
Similar to Mitra’s cybernetic space seems Emily Skop’s ‘ThirdSpace’ (Chap.4), a space that is “located between the two poles of ‘here’ and ‘there’” (p.81). Migrants who engage in transnational activities create new spheres of interaction within these thirdspaces, and the Internet can be seen as their most vital tool. Skop develops a “continuum of embeddedness” to analyze these engagements and describes five stages that range from the most engaged migrants to moderately connected ones, rather disinterested onlookers, dissatisfied witnesses, and disconnected bystanders (p.95).
An insightful methodological discussion is brought in by Urmila Goel (Chap. 3). She presents the sole study from a non-anglophone context in this book. Her chapter is the only one including a critical self-reflection about positionality and the researcher’s role in constructing ethnic labels. With her empirical case study of a digital forum called “Indernet”, she demonstrates how a community marked as Indian is intentionally created. This leads her to the term of the “ethnic entrepreneur” (p.75ff), which also includes researchers who work on those marked as Indians and thereby reproduce constructed “Indianness”.
With reference to the construction of “Indianness”, Vinay Lal emphasizes the role of diasporic agents in the US in forging a fixed Hindu identity with a conservative hindu-nationalist connotation (Chap.6). He describes the active reinterpretation of Indian history and a gradual development of a rhetoric that propagates Hinduism as a superior world religion. Lal shows how these discourses reflect in civic engagement, citing examples of campaigns that took advantage of arguments about multiculturalism, diversity and citizenship in the US to push a hindu-nationalist agenda. But the same people, Lal argues, refuse to accept multiculturalism and tolerance in the Indian context.
Scheifinger’s rather descriptive account of the digital network of a Hindu institution belonging to the religious path of Advaita Vedanta (Chap.5) seems slightly misplaced in the Identity section. Although he depicts the online manifestation of an important practice connected with the religious leader in the example of online yatras (religious tours across India) and the consequential deterritorialization of the ritual by transcending physical locations, Scheifinger’s conclusion about new transnational modes of connectivity is neither new, nor touches it upon questions of identity.

The second section of the book broadly concerns questions of power, although the theme is not overtly evident in all chapters. Mirian Santos de Ribeiro de Oliveira (Chap.7) analyses the (re-)construction of transnational Indian identity through online NRI (Non-Resident Indian) forums. She describes NRI-oriented activities towards an inclusive Indian identity from the perspective of agents located in the ‘homeland’, therewith stressing the dynamics of simultaneous deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Unfortunately, the reader does not learn much about these agents, other than the changes their platform facilitates in terms of transnational connectivity.
Emilia Bachrach examines online advice forums of the Vallabh Vaishnava sect (Chap.8). Similar to Scheifinger, Bachrach notes that the sect’s online presence represents a continuation of ‘traditional’ forms of proselytization like pilgrimages and practices like the devotee-guru relationship. In comparison to Scheifinger’s observation, Bachrach identifies more than a digital support system and comes to two conclusions: Firstly, she observes demographic changes facilitated through the employment of new media (more young users); secondly, she demonstrates an impact on the very understanding of religion and ritual practice.
Ashish Saxena (Chap.9) renders a rather descriptive chronological account of the internationalization of Dalit activism. He confirms but does not explicate the initial question of how globalization “may become a means for their [Dalit] identity construction” (p.191). His account of Dalit groups and their diasporic involvement is well researched but a focus on online activism, other than listing websites and newsletters, is absent. The chapter’s incorporation into the volume appears more like the attempt to include a marginal perspective complementing the dominant focus on an elitist US-Hindu-diaspora. Goel’s contribution from the German-speaking region being the only other exemption, this is a commendable initiative since the almost exclusive view on Hindu migrants is a point of criticism.
Nevertheless, the book is a welcome addition to the growing scholarly corpus on transnationalism, online culture, and questions of identity for the Indian context. While some articles, especially in the first section, include interesting theoretical reflections, the strength of the book lies in the empirical case studies. For researchers and students the anthology is a good starting point to explore these questions. Practical assets are the glossary and a helpful index.

The Link between ICT4D and Modernization Theory

Marlene Kunst | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: For some decades western institutions have shared an enormous enthusiasm for Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). Nevertheless, despite the field’s ever-increasing importance, research on it remains fragmented and lacks a theoretical foundation. By establishing a link between ICT4D and Modernization theory as one of the major development models, this paper aims to add some theoretical reflections to the body of existing research. Initially, a literature review of the most significant authors of Modernization theory serves as a theoretical base. Subsequently, empirical findings are systematized and embedded in the theoretical framework. The leading question is, whether ICT4D is connected to Modernization theory’s main lines of thought, both in theory and in the field. Modernization theory was chosen as a reference point, as even though it has frequently been marked as outdated, some argue that ICT4D has brought about its revival: Led by a technocratic mindset, actors in the field have indeed assumed ICTs to be context-free tools, which is one of the reasons why ICT4D has so far not been an unmitigated success. As there is a lack of systematic research on ICT4D, this paper is explorative in nature. It is certainly beyond the author’s scope to make any definite statements on how development cooperation has hitherto handled ICT4D, as the field is too complex. Instead, light will be shed on some trends that can be identified in the field of ICT4D to date.

Assessing the Impact of TMF on the Tanzanian Media: A Practical Approach

Sanne van den Berg | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The Tanzania Media Fund (TMF) supports individual journalists and media institutions to produce quality public interest and investigative journalism content that better informs the public, contributes to debate and thereby increases public demand for greater accountability in Tanzania. TMF has used lessons learned from its first phase (2008- 2012) to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework that captures TMF’s achievements in phase 2 (2012-2015) and beyond. This article provides an overview of the practical implementation of the M&E framework, and challenges encountered during implementation.

In Search of Evidence: Media and Governance in Fragile States

Nicole Stremlau | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: This article reflects on efforts to identify evidence about the role of media in fragile states. It explores and compares findings from two research projects and focuses on some of the lessons that have emerged from these exercises as well as on the relevance of the findings for media development. While we know that media matters in areas such as conflict, reconciliation and peacebuilding, neither of the reviews of the literature found substantial evidence supporting some of the widespread claims about the importance of media, suggesting how elusive this evidence can be.

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