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Old Wednesday, February 05, 2014
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If any one of you has prepared the following topic, please write down a few strong arguments
Rise and fall of media and nation is together.
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Old Wednesday, February 05, 2014
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Default Role of media and the states


2.2 Introduction. The world is now at the point where interaction between local, national and global interest is increasing in crescendo. Customary enclaves like cultures, communities, nations or even territories that previously restricted the transplanetary flow of diverse social exchanges has become permeable. Thanks to the New World Order which through wide spread liberal politics and improved communication technology, provided enabling grounds for gross mobility of people and rapid flow of information in a way that has never been. This article tends toward theoretical and analytical discussions on the role the media has played in the rise and demise of the nation-state. I will present my arguments in two veins. Firstly, I will argue in terms of the ‘rise’ that the media, in particular the transnational media, has extended the notion of national consciousness, nationalism and patriotism to national culture to migrants outside their homeland. Secondly, I will argue in terms of the ‘demise’ that the transnational media in so doing, has offered a disordering to conventional national cultures in nation-states. Within these contexts, I will focus on the ways in which transnational media are employed by nation-states and deployed by diasporic citizens. Analyses of Turkish migrants in Diaspora will be used as case study to illustrate the dynamics that stem from connecting deterritorialized populations. The article will highlight the influential role of the media in the transmission cultural contents abroad. More specifically, my focus will be on how the dissemination of national cultures to migrant nationals abroad via transnational media of satellite television (Sat TV) is influencing (rising) and affecting (demising) the cultural order of nation-states. However, since my scope is restricted to select readings, it is pertinent that I provide descriptions of the ‘nation-state’ and the ‘media’ in the context of the
3. 3 readings from which my presentation will be made. Subsequently, my presentation will be guided by the definitions I will recapitulate from the readings. The Nation-State. ‘Nation’ and ‘state’ put together create an ambivalency of a complex word which demands for clear-cut explanation of the construct. While the nation dwells on people or race, the state centers on political definition and sovereignty. In a broader vein, a nation fits a description of people bounded together because they share similar sentiments regarding cultural artifacts such as religion, history, custom or even territory. While the state describes a political entity demarcated from other states with a well defined governmental structure that has ability and effectiveness to provide the fundamental political goods associated with statehood. To crystallize the foregoing, Anderson (1983:6), gives the definition of nation as “an imagined political community…” with suggestions that the nation is imagined as “both inherently limited and sovereign”. First, he describes the nation as imagined because members of the nation to a large extent imagine their existence in their minds irrespective of whether they meet with one another in lifetime. Second, he says the nation is imagined as limited because members of nation are often confined to finite borders. Third, that the nation is imagined as sovereign because it has to be politically emancipated. And fourth, the nation is imagined as a community because there exist among members a spirit of oneness and comradeship. Anderson further suffices all these imaginings to stem from devotion to the interests or culture of the nation by its members (whether far or near) which he says are outcome of national consciousness. National consciousness therefore makes national societies or imagined communities of nation-states have it as priority to conscientize members to remain in solidarity with nationalistic values.
4. 4 To achieve this, Verhulst (1999:30-31) says “Diasporic groups are now with the tools of developing communications technology, working to maintain their identities, whether they are defined by religious fervour, ethnic pride, economic ambition or historic places of origin by establishing supportive or interactive communities…”. As a corollary, communications media are developed and used to hold sway the behavior of the nationals for “…a more immediate…more intense and more effective form of transnational bonding” (Ibid.). The Media. The media in the context of this article as earlier stated is the transnational media. Though there exist a plethora of media that are able to cut across national borders, I shall limit my selection to the printed and electronic mass media of newspapers and satellite television. The evolution of mass media began with revolution in print technology which enabled the mass printing of communicable messages into textual materials. The Bible and Quran are two textual mass produced and circulated media that wield enormous influence on those who share similar sentiments in terms of socio- religious belief. These books helped to form people into imagined communities irrespective of whether they were within or beyond a territory. However, since the sacred writs could only bond people together more from sentiments of religion than of sentiments of national consciousness, it is preferable to focus on the newspaper which served veritable for anchoring nationalism and patriotism among nationals. Anderson (Ibid: 24-25,) recounts that along side the novel, the newspaper provided the technical means for re-presenting the kind of imagined community that is like the nation. Why newspapers are being mass produced and circulated nation wide is because they “serve modern man as substitute for morning prayer…
5. 5 each communicant is aware that the ceremony he performs is being replicated simultaneously by thousand (or millions) of others of whose existence he is confident, yet of whose identity he has not the slightest notion” (Nairn, 1977:24). What this means is that the newspaper which is a product of print-capitalism made it possible for rapidly growing number of people to think about themselves, and to relate themselves to others, in profoundly new ways (Anderson, 36-37). But then, newspapers are not very veritable for transnational cultural purveying. Reason, they only got patronage from people who could read. This was a major setback for the medium. Besides, it was not easy ferrying hard copies to far reaching countries particularly those that were demarcated by large expanse of sea water. However, with the coming of the Internet and the concomitant media convergence on it, the problem of ferrying hard copies across borders was solved as readers were able to read online. Nonetheless, the problem of literacy (including computer literacy) as prerequisite for patronage has remained. Perhaps this problem is solved by the electronic audio-visual media particularly of the satellite television which is the media in focus here. “Satellite broadcasting today is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action” (McLuhan, 1967:8). This is because consumption of satellite television channels influences and promotes new and unprecedented state of being. “We can glean clearer insight into the message of the medium … the message of a particular medium is the change or invention of scales or patterns that it introduces into human life…”(Ibid: 9). Robins (2003: 189) explains in other words what McLuhan is describing when he recounted the arguments of certain German conservative sociologists and political scientists who opined “that transnational television was, in fact, a significant cultural and political threat” to German culture. The reason was because they
6. 6 observed that Turkish migrants in Germany, due to watching Turkish satellite television, were “becoming progressively dissociated from social life of everyday German society”. Consequently, “satellite broadcasting was held to be a threat to the …unity and integrity of the German culture” (Ibid: 190). The Role of the Media in Transnational Cultural Purveying. The convergence of media on the Internet has built up new virtual geographies that offer migrants a new kind of experience. All the models of news setting (beat) and reporting, cultural formation and identity and politics, “are mediated by one or another of the media, from the epistolary technology of letters, telephone, fax, and email to the audiovisual media of photos, mp3, films and videos, to print, electronic, and cyberspace journalism” (Naficy, 1993 : 4). The new transnational media order has merged social spheres and severed the traditional links between physical places and social meanings. Meyrowitz (1986) says they have created “placeless cultures which offer Diasporas around the world new resources and new disciplines for the construction of imagined selves and communities”. Therefore, through the proliferation of transnational visual media, what has now become crucial for the recipient audiences is the need to be above ignorance of their community of origin and to become exposed with cultural roots from their homeland. “The agenda here is all about the protection of national community - about sustaining the integrity of the imagined community” (Robins, Ibid: 190). Supporting the foregoing, Robins (Ibid: 192) reiterates Benedict Anderson’s characterization of “national cultures as imagined communities” which are “bonded discursively by a sense of deep … imagined common origin and a mythical past”. Robins, with inferences from Verhulst (Ibid), further argues that “the imaginations of deterritorialized people, even when scattered through
7. 7 different lands, may be marked correspondingly by absentee patriotism and long- distance nationalism” if “diasporic groups are… with the tools of developing communication technology…to maintain their identities…”. Thus the globalization of the satellite television has helped to sustain rise of local or national culture in the global scenario. On the other hand, Aksoy and Robins (2003:4-5,36) argue that transnational media consumption promotes de-ethnicization and frees the migrant from the pincers of a ‘frozen image’ of the homeland. They suggest that the practice of satellite television viewing, places migrants in an “ironic stance to cultures”, and far from reinforcing long distance national identities it fosters an experience of “moving beyond the frame of national society”. Their argument is based on the assumption that “what is conceived in terms of deterritorialization of migrant cultures is related to the emergence of new hybrid identities and new cosmopolitan possibilities” (Robins, Ibid:192) for the migrant communities. How the Media Rise Cultures of Nation-States. It is pertinent at this juncture to present the first line of my argument regarding how the transnational media from homeland have favored rise of the nation-states. All transnational media seek to ingrained the feeling of long-distance patriotism to respective migrants of their imagined communities. This spectacular of course, is the bedrock of an initiative to catapult national cultural identity even to the lost sheep. The transnational media may thus be described as the voice of the shepherd crying out to get the attention of the strayed sheep (migrant) in the wilderness (foreign land). Earlier studies on globalization of national cultures by transnational media portrayed globalization as the suppressing of national cultures by the Western culture- what was referred to as: ‘cultural imperialism’. Western culture,
8. 8 particularly of the United States was popularized by the American transnational visual media which dominated the global until other nations were able to come up with their media. With the emergence of transnational media from other nations, it became possible to break the monopoly of cultural imperialism which America had enjoyed for decades. Iwabuchi (2002: 554 – 555) supports that, transnational media globalization has generated the de-centering of Western (U.S.) cultural hegemony. Non- Western players now actively collaborate in the production and circulation of global media commodities …Furthermore, the predominance of Western (U.S.) culture has been seriously challenged by the intensification of intraregional cultural flows and connections in the non-West. Transnational media from other nations proliferated with a different agenda and changed the rule of the game. Unlike the American transnational media which sought to brainwash the global populace with her culture, the upcoming transnational media from other nations targeted their media messages at national communities in Diaspora. This calculated strategy from other transnational media created a new order in the globalization of media and culture. The migrants or diasporic communities were simply the pivot around which the transnational media revolve their messages. Perhaps that is why the transnational media are being referred to by contemporary media and cultural researchers as ‘diasporic media’. The crux of the diasporic media is “associated with the advent of global networks with new and productive patterns of cultural flow across global space” (Robins, Ibid). Diasporic media around the world are perhaps the best examples of the revolutionary approach to globalization for reason that they build bridges between the local, national and the global in a way that is now conditioning daily lives of the Diasporas.
9. 9 Appadurai (2004: 4) recognizes the significance of the interface between transnational media connects with the migrant populations and the role it plays in the contemporary global era. With contemporary global flows of mass-mediated global imagery and discourses, “a new order of instability in the production of modern subjectivities” is invented. For example, possible now that “Turkish migrant workers in Denmark are able to watch Turkish films on TRT-INT satellite TV from Ankara in their Danish homes; Brazilians in San Francisco are able to see national football tournaments through TV GLOBO satellite feeds from Brasilia, and Hispanos scattered all over Latin America are able to watch TELEVISIA; cable TV from Mexico, as Iraqi residents in New York were able to catch glimpse of the invasion of their homeland by the U S Army on AL JAZEERA TV. All the foregoing are reflections of how moving images from the so-called diasporic media meet deterritorialized viewers. The above situation in turn, functions to produce and sustain the evolution of new diasporic public spheres that transcend the scope of conventional nation-state. “The role of the media in articulating the dispersed members of the nation to the centers of symbolic power is crucial here” (Morley, 2000:107). What this emphasizes is that, the media capitalizes on the consequences of national identification very well to sway the people of ‘its nation’ to being part and parcel of ‘the nation’ distance not minding. The glaring effect of this is that diasporic members stampede to seek affinity with their respective nation-states because ‘the media’ seems to have some kind of absolute force to not only rousing patriotic nationalism, but sometimes nostalgia as well. Diasporic communities all over the world are now connected one way or another to their national imagined communities. The cable satellite TV has done
10. 10 immensely good job of that and where the cable TV has not reached the Internet has covered. Most people in the Diaspora who have the literary and computer literacy to use the Internet daily surf the medium for diasporic WebPages that give news from back home. But it was the satellite TV that did the magic more than the Internet. The example given by Robins on his interview with Zeynep, the Turkish woman in Britain documented Zeynep as saying: “No one knew what the culture of Turkey was, no one heard any news from Turkey… I didn’t know my identity. I couldn’t know what Turkish meant…. I didn’t know who I was until this TV thing came along… it has brought so much with it!” Indeed as it did for Zeynep, so did it for other diasporic members of imagined communities. It is no longer farfetched nowadays to find migrants in foreign host lands fostering the cultures of their own imagined national communities instead of that of the national communities where they reside. In Denmark for instance, I have seen a number of veiled Muslim Turkish women shopping in City Vest, a big Danish shopping mall in Brabrand. I know Denmark is not a Muslim nation yet lots of veiled woman are seen in this public place. For these veiled women, they represent their imagined national religious culture. For me a Christian African studying in Denmark, they represent part of the tourist attraction I see in Denmark. But I wonder how the Danes see them. My argument from the foregoing is that while this is a plus or ‘rise’ for the cultures of the imagined nation-states of the Muslim women, conversely, I think it is a minus or ‘demise’ for the culture of the nation-state where they are domiciled. This is vivid example that the media, in particular the transnational media, has extended the notion of national consciousness and patriotism to national cultural identity to its nationals offshore
11. 11 Media Role in Demise of National Culture. Having provided the foregoing grounds for my first argument which support that transnational media has effected rise in the awareness of national cultural identity to its nationals offshore, I will now proceed to argue that in the same way, the transnational media by so doing has offered a disordering to conventional national cultures in nation-states whose primary order is to assume united national culture and identity. The production of a universally homogenous consumer culture – ‘globalization’ renders national and natural borders obsolete. Ohmae, (1996 : 18) claims that though globalization leaves us with a global logic which functions in “dissolving the fabric holding nation-states together” (Ibid), it has been a key component of promoting homogenization of cultures in some ways and cultural diversity in some other ways. “While this shift in theorizing globalization has been an ongoing process for at least two decades, the conceptualization of globalization as a threat to the conventional nation-state does not seem to have changed. Some theorists have opined globalization announces the demise of the nation-state, the rise of Western cultural imperialism and the replacement of national culture with the global” (Karanfil, 2004). But today, scholars are talking of a different kind of globalization which is the notion of cultural diversity as opposed to cultural imperialism. “The ‘threat’ is not expressed so much as cultural imperialism or western cultural domination: rather, it has gradually been replaced by ethnic, religious conflict and a threat to the conventional nation states and national consciousnesses whose primary reference is to a unified, monolithic national culture and identity” (Ibid).
12. 12 Transnational media flows are situated at the centre of these claims. The transnational media offers an unprecedented disordering of conventional national, ethnic, religious identifications. My contention is that this disordering, hammers on the cultural artifacts of any nation-state they come across. They produce first culture diversity, and then ‘cultures clash’ in the host nation. Perhaps this was the anxiety of German culture monitors of the 90s who associated satellite broadcasting as threat to the unity and integrity of the German culture. The reasons were because first, Germany had the largest Turkish population of migrants in Europe. Second, they observed that Turkish migrants had resorted to watching Turkish satellite TV channels exclusively and due to watching these channels, they were recoiling from social life of everyday German society. As a consequence, W. Heitmeyer and Co. followed it up with one of the most alarmist and pessimistic counsels. Among the points of discourse in their counsel, was the issue of ‘clash of civilization’. The German society was sensitized about “dangers of cultural fragmentation and ghettoism, and the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, and of…ethno-cultural confrontation and conflict” (Heitmeyer et al., 1997). These scaremongering announced the consequence of the price Germany will pay if the Turks were allowed to continue watching Turkish Sat TVs. “The foregoing was “the cultural consequences of transnational television from Turkey. The German society, believing the Turks were necessary under the sway of their Turkish media thus needed to be defended against an imagined cultural invasion or from alien culture that the German cultural monitors assumed. . The foregoing makes it seem obvious that the Turkish media was more blamed for the culture threat than the presence of the Turkeys in Germany. This is so because, worries of cultural invasion did not take front line in Germany until it was
13. 13 observed that the transnational media of Sat TVs were changing the cultural behavior of Turkish auslanders in Germany. Howbeit, the problems of ethnicity, race and religious differentiation still exist even among bonafide nationals in nation-states. Perhaps this is why some national policy seeks to implement social policies of ‘unity in diversity’ to unify the national culture. And when migrants come in, other policy of ‘integration and assimilation’ is put forward to integrate them into the cultural ambit of the nation. It is therefore not the interest of cultural policy makers to have migrants upsetting the national cultural identity of its national space. No medium preceding satellite television has been as influential in encouraging the migrants to forge new mental spaces for themselves. The consumption of satellite television channels from Turkey has influenced and promoted new ways of being, new connections to the homeland and disconnections from the host land. Transnational media particularly of the Sat TV offer the essential platform for this disconnections and disengagement from the cultural affinity to the host land. The diasporic subjects forge cultural specimens which build on diverse hybridity and possibly, they try to make them manifest in their new national spaces. In this sense, “transnational media consumption produces transcultural spaces that are negotiated and experienced in everyday life to meet immediate and mediated experience in local, national and transnational spaces” (Karanfil, Ibid). Castles and Miller (2003: 33) reiterate that the tension between the local and the global “can lead to the emergence of countercultures and political radicalization”. In a sense, “this process of transculturalization which evolves outside the traditional boundaries of the codes of production of the nation-state can be understood as a critique or disordering of the national
14. 14 culture of …” (Karanfil, Ibid) the host nations. I dare say here that this is the benchmark for sufficing that transculturalization leads to the demising of cultural values in nation-states. And of course, it does so with a helping hand from the transnational media particularly of the Sat TVs. Conclusion. Kraidy (1972: 161) summed up the result of transnational cultural mixture whether it be in form of homogenization, diversification, confrontation or fragmentation, as a culture inter-network of “hybridity without guarantees”. Kraidy enthuses that the recognition between and within ethnic, religious and linguistic communities… allows for transcultural mixtures to take shape with sustained cultural exchanges. The sustenance of cultural exchange has always been achieved more effectively by the media. This is even so because not only that the media plays immense role in purveying transcultural exchanges, it also creates platforms for influencing the attitudes of recipients. The Satellite television is one medium that has done so very well. With the availability of Sat TVs from Turkey, there has been shifts between diverse multiple cultural spaces. In this regards, satellite television from Turkey has transcended Turkey’s socio-cultural artifacts beyond Turkey’s national space. This development has ensured the converging of transcultural subjects who select from the media to produce and inhabit cultures of their own. However, this experience offers disordering to pre-established configurations of national cultural identity. In other words, a productive disordering of the national culture of the host lands where migrants sojourn. The cultural shortcomings caused by the migrants in their host lands, has forged demise in the cultural integrity of the host lands. The overlapping outcome of this contingency has mainly resulted in the fostering of hybrid aculturalization in the nation-states.
15. 15 With support from Kraidy, my conclusion here suggests that these hybrid identifications that transcend national references need to be conceptualized in desirable formations. “It is through these re-descriptions that social exchange can be achieved in a cultural politics of identity. Therefore, the emphasis that contemporary transcultural media networks of satellite TVs are the catalysts for the rise and demise of the cultural identities of nation-states remains fundamental in my presentation. It is stark fact that the messages from the media, particularly of Sat TVs provide the resources for hybridization of cultural identities in nation-states. By employing global communication technologies such as Sat TVs, migrants in Diaspora will continue to engage in a constant zest to invent and reinvent cultural artifacts in glorification of their homeland. It is through these inventions that cultural formation emerges to disorder the cultures of their host nation-states. The Germans cultural monitors though not in error once blamed the media more than the migrants for this. Nonetheless, I conclude by inferring that the role the media plays in the rise or demise of nation-states’ cultures is a necessary evil. This is because globalization itself is an output of an orderly and disorderly matter of cultural hybridity. It is categorical that whatever it foreruns can only manifest via orderliness and disorderliness.
16. 16 References Anderson, Benedict (1991{1983}). Imagined Communities, London: Verso Appadurai, A. (2004). Grassroots Globalisation and the Research Imagination. Public Culture, 12(1), 1-19. Castles, S., and Miller
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