Decolonising Approaches to Users and Audiences in the Global South: Context, Theory and Method
Cultural translation, a perpetual movement from one constituted historical context and language to another, has proved to be a complex affair, necessitating a shuttling between different languages, ‘thresholds’ (Bhabha 2021), ‘fronteras’ or borderlands (Anzaldúa 2016), and temporalities. Audience research in the West came as a response to pathologies of modernity, which made it dependent on a specific temporal-language about culture, history, and society. However, as the field of audience research began to internationalise, so did its hermeneutics and ways of seeing the world. To disentangle audience research in the global South, and in the diaspora, from the anachronistic language and hermeneutics that are anchored in West-centric audience research, this event emphasises the importance of the everyday as the terrain of study, and the need to build bridges between the philosophical discourses of modernity/postmodernity/digitality that are emerging from the global South, and the different ways in which people in the South experience being-digital.
In our experiences as scholars in the diaspora, to ‘do’ audience research is to ‘do’ cultural translation from a position of ‘double absence’ (Sayad 1999). Area studies scholars, who are researching audiences, work at the margins of an exnominated field of media and cultural studies, and find their work visible, but only in relation to their marginality to the silent and intentionally salient and unnamed: British, US and European audience research. Global South audience research, like other area studies in Western academia, is systematically subalterned by the normalised, yet ex-nominated, silent centre. Ex-nomination, we argue, legitimises the centre as the absent presence and, with it, its language(s), signs, paradigms, semiotics, and ways of understanding the world.
This Webinar is an invitation to think about media users in the global South beyond the facile and essentialist discourses of media imperialism and technological determinism. It is an invitation to rehearse alternative and translational forms of theorising that seriously engage with the complex interstitial temporalities and lived experiences of audiences in the South.
We ask the following questions: What can a phenomenological study of digital media users in the global South teach us about everyday cultural life in the South? How are media audiences/ users in the global South using digital media to resist different forms of fundamentalisms: neo-liberal, neo-colonial, sectarian, populist, as well as misogynistic discourses of heteronormativity. Drawing on Hall’s notion that diasporas ‘are at the leading edge of what is destined to become the truly representative “late-modern” experience’, what can diasporic audience research teach us about digital communicative practices and diasporic connections with countries in the South? And, finally, how can we rethink the master categories of audience analysis: race, class, gender, and ethnicity, within the context of the contemporary global South?
16:00 Webinar Opens
Opening: Prof. Graham Meikle
Introduction: Andrea Medrado, Tarik Sabry and Winston Mano
16:10-17:30 – Keynotes
Prof. Tanja E. Bosch, Cape Town University, South Africa
Decolonising digital media research methods
Prof. Guobin Yang, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, US
How Not to Theorize a Pandemic from Afar: Alterity, Sensibility, and Vulnerability in Narrating the Wuhan Lockdown
Prof. Claudia Magallanes Blanco, Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, Mexico
Colonized audiences decolonizing through self-representation. A look at indigenous community radios in Oaxaca, Mexico
Prof. Marwan Kraidy, Northwestern University, Qatar
Entangled Modernities: Dilemmas in Deconstructing and Decolonizing ‘Media’ and ‘Audience’ in the Global South
Prof. Payal Arora, University of Rotterdam, Netherlands
Decolonizing Design for the Next Billion
17.30 – 18.30: Roundtable and Q&A