Jill Hopke

Environmental Communication. Social Movements. Mobile Media.

Tag: international communication

“De-Westernizing” Communication Theory: The Potential and Challenges of “Popular” Media in Africa

While my primary research interests have lead me to explore popular and community communication in Latin America, the volume Popular Media, Democracy and Development in Africa caught my attention. As part of the Internationalizing Media Studies series from Routledge, editor Herman Wasserman brings together a wide-ranging collection of comparative research dealing with popular media iterations spanning the continent. With 55 countries, Africa is home to more than one billion people and has the highest linguistic diversity in the world with more than one thousand spoken languages, making this is no small feat.

As a Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, Wasserman is well positioned to bring together research on popular media in Africa. He has published widely on media ethics, African and global media and the intersections of traditional media systems and popular culture. He also serves as the editor of Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies. In addition, the book’s 20 contributors bring expertise and first-hand experience in Africa’s media and alternative cultural manifestations to the collection.

Coming as a response to Daya Kishan Thussu’s call for expanding the “discourse on globalization of media and communication beyond Northern perspectives,” the book is organized in four parts, dealing with theoretical implications, democracy and development, audiences, and mediating identities locally to transnational (p. 7). Wasserman states that the goal of the volume is to turn a critical gaze to how popular media in Africa embody these discourses.

Wasserman rightly points out in the introduction that communication theory has long been dominated by Western theory. However, even by setting the scope of the volume to center on discourses of “democracy” and “development” is to take modernization theory as the point of reference, as well as international aid framework of “development.” Continue reading

Unpacking the Promise of “Communication Power”: Control of Infrastructure (Still) Matters

This blog post explores the dimensions of “communication power” highlighted in International Communication: A Reader, edited by Daya Kishan Thussu (2010) from Routledge.

In Communication Power Manuel Castells writes, “Power relies on the control of communication, as counterpower depends on breaking through such control” (Castells, 2009, p. 3). The history of international communication as an academic discipline is integrally linked to post-colonial and Cold War power struggles between nation-states. For example, the development of satellite television was one “soft power” tool to win the “hearts and minds” of the world’s population during the height of the Cold War (Schwoch, 2009).

Now—as we are debatably entering an era marked by the decline of the nation-state and the rise of the “network society” and the “network state”—questions of power become more pressingly tied to access to the definitional power that comes with control of information communication technologies (Castells, 2009; 2010, pp. 42-43; Schiller, 2010).

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