Opinion: Attacking courses on critical pedagogy is a strategy of the far right

By Professor Mohan J. Dutta, Director, CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

Opinion: Attacking courses on critical pedagogy is a strategy of the far right

In what was marketed as the first “Leaders Breakfast” on NewstalkZB with Mike Hoskings, the leader of the National Party, Judith Collins, commented on the secondary education curriculum of Aotearoa New Zealand, stating; “The trouble with NCEA, Mike, to be frank, is there’s too many photography classes, too much media studies, too much woke stuff.”

The contempt for the creative arts and media studies expressed by Collins should be read alongside similar such attacks by the far right on critical pedagogy across the globe. That Collins places the teaching of media studies as “woke stuff” sheds light on what her problem with media studies really is – that she sees the discipline as teaching students how to ask critical questions.

In the US, Donald Trump has issued a state directive attacking the teaching of critical race theory. It has instructed all federal agencies to stop anti-bias training programmes that draw on critical race theory or address white privilege.

In a speech delivered at the National Archives Museum, Trump attacked critical race theory by stating that it encourages “deceptions, falsehoods and lies” by the “left-wing cultural revolution”.

Suggesting that students in US universities are inundated with what he terms “critical race theory propaganda,”, Trump said, “This is a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed. Critical race theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbours, and families.”

In India, the Narendra Modi-led right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has systematically attacked universities that are seen as sites of critical education. Organised state violence has worked alongside the instruments of violence of the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party to attack and seek to dismantle university spaces for critical pedagogy. The renowned Jawaharlal Nehru University has been targeted with violence. Similar attacks have been carried out on Jamia Millia Islamia University.


What is the goal of critical pedagogy?

Critical pedagogy examines the ways in which inequalities are scripted into societal, institutional, and organisational structures and practices. It attends to the inequalities in the distribution of power, reading closely the ways in which these inequalities shape the inequities in outcomes in society. In the US for instance, the African American life span on average is shorter than the lifespan of Caucasians and Asians. In India, lower caste communities experience poorer health outcomes compared to upper castes. In Aotearoa New Zealand, in 2014, premature mortality for Māori and Pacific people was more than two times that of non-Māori and non-Pacific populations. By closely examining the patterns of distribution of power in society, critical pedagogy offers a framework for examining the ways in which inequalities have been historically produced and entrenched. In doing so, it offers students ways of conceptualising and working toward a society that is just, inclusive, and egalitarian.

A common thread across the far right attacks on critical pedagogy is the denial of entrenched societal inequalities that have been actively reworked by five decades of relentless neoliberalism.           

The far right has introduced terms such as “cancel culture” to attack the calls for equality and social, cultural, economic, and political justice. The mainstreaming of the term under the guise of “freedom of expression” obfuscates the inequalities that are actively cultivated by the far right. For instance, attacks on transgender rights under the guise of free speech have been organised under the rhetoric of “cancel culture”. The term works actively to erase the inequalities produced by a gendered politics of hate, instead turning those occupying identities of power as victims. This projection of victimhood is a key strategic resource of the far right. In Trump’s US, white men are the victims. In Modi’s India, upper caste, Hindu men are the victims. In Collins’ Aotearoa New Zealand, white Pākehā culture is the victim.

The narrative of victimhood is used to mainstream hate groups into politics. Consider, for instance, the implicit support offered by Trump to the white supremacist groups. In a recent Presidential debate, he declined to condemn the far right group ‘Proud Boys’, instead stating, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by! But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

Yet another strategy deployed by the far right is to create the false dichotomy between critical pedagogy and what is termed as “useful subjects.” In her interview with Hoskings, Collins added that she would promote the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She also noted the importance of financial literacy and more practical economics. As noted by the media scholar Neil Curtis, Collins “quickly qualified what she meant by economics, which she believes should be “less theoretical” and “more practical.” For Collins, what is practical is not critical.

Ironically, what this pernicious ideology of the far right consistently makes visible is the practical urgency of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy teaches students to closely interrogate the neoliberal ideology that circulates phony claims such as more technology and growth would solve the climate crisis. Critical pedagogy equips students with the capacity to interrogate the ideology of hate perpetuated by the far right on digital platforms.

Communication and media studies, with anchors in critical pedagogy, are vital to the education of a Prime Minister that has led to what is considered globally as one of the most effective responses to the pandemic. Clear communication, anchored in science, with a heart and with a commitment to social, political, and economic justice is the need of the hour.

If there is one thing the pandemic teaches us, it is this. A strong communication and media education grounded in critical pedagogy is as practical and necessary as an education in public health, medicine, and engineering.

Mohan J. Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor, Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), and editor of the Journal of Applied Communication Research (JACR)

CARE White Paper Issue 2: March 2020 – A culture-centered approach to pandemic response: Voice, Universal Infrastructure, and Equality

Mohan J. Dutta, Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE)

CARE White Paper Issue 2 March 2020

The global nodes of spread of Covid-19 highlight the significance of health communication in preventing the spread as well as in effectively responding to it. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Noting the aggressive movement of the virus across countries, with eight countries reporting more than 1000 cases of COVID-19, the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Drawing on critical analyses of the pandemic and crises response literatures as well as building on the experiences of CARE in developing culture-centered community grounded interventions,this white paper outlines the culture-centered approach to pandemic response, specifically directed at offering culturecentered guidelines for effective communication. The culture-centered approach foregrounds the interplays of culture, structure, and agency in the constructions of health meanings and the development of health solutions

Special Presentation: A New Lecture Series :”Decolonizing Whiteness” with Prof. Mohan Dutta.

Join us at the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) for this special presentation of Professor Mohan J Dutta’s new lecture series: Decolonizing Whiteness Lecture Series

Special Presentation! Decolonizing Whiteness Lecture Series

Join CARE for this special presentation of Professor Mohan J Dutta's new lecture series

Posted by CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation on Monday, 14 September 2020

Stay tuned for more information on the new Lecture Series or follow us on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey & Twitter: https://twitter.com/CAREMasseyNZ pages for the latest updates.

Professor Mohan Dutta Wins Prestigious Charles H. Woolbert Research Award and Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association

Professor Mohan Dutta Wins Prestigious Charles H. Woolbert Research Award and Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from…

Posted by CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation on Thursday, 10 September 2020

Mohan J. Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University and Director of the CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation C, recently received the 2020 Charles H. Woolbert Research Award and the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association (NCA). Given annually, the Charles H. Woolbert Research Award honors a journal article or book chapter that has stood the test of time and has become a stimulus for new conceptualizations of communication phenomena. Dr. Dutta was recognized for the article, “Communicating about Culture and Health: Theorizing Culture-Centered and Cultural Sensitivity Approaches,” published in Communication Theory in 2007. Dr. Dutta’s paradigm-shifting critical-theoretical and applied intervention into health communication contexts and practices, addresses structural inequalities and centers the voices of those struggling on global margins. “Communicating about Culture and Health” changed the discipline, expanded cross-disciplinary and cross-methodological collaboration, and influenced curricula in medical schools as well as clinical practice. Cited more than 600 times, in more than a dozen languages, on every continent, this article has directly shaped projects benefitting “marginalized communities around the world, ranging from immigrant, African American, and First Nations communities in the United States and Canada, to migrant workers communities throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, to minoritized communities in South Africa, South America, and more.”The Golden Anniversary Monograph Award is given annually to honor the most outstanding scholarly monograph(s) published during the previous calendar year. Dr. Dutta was recognized for the article, “‘Communication sovereignty’ as Resistance: Strategies Adopted by Women Farmers Amid the Agrarian Crisis in India,” published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research in 2019 with Dr. Jagadish Thaker. Drs. Dutta and Thaker’s article is based on five years of participatory research with women farmers in southern India. The article highlights how women from oppressed caste communities in southern India come together to organize for increased economic and political power. The intervention that this article develops and emerges from addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time: food.“NCA’s annual awards honor communication scholars’ teaching, scholarship, and service,” NCA Executive Director Trevor Parry-Giles said. “NCA is proud to recognize Dr. Dutta’s significant contributions to the Communication discipline with this award.”Dr. Dutta’s award will be presented virtually on November 21 at the NCA 106th Annual Convention. For more information about NCA’s awards program, visit http://www.natcom.org/awards/. About the National Communication AssociationThe National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA supports inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom; NCA supports and promotes policies that fairly encourage this diversity and inclusion. For more information, visit natcom.org, follow us on Twitter at @natcomm, and find us on Facebook.#ResearchAwards#NationalCommunicationAssociationAwards#CharlesHWoolbertResearchAward#GoldenAnniversaryMonographAward

CARE COVID19 Lecture Series #12- (Im)migrants, Border Restrictions and Racism: Authoritarian Impulses in the Guise of Coronavirus Response – with Professor Sudeshna Roy, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas

CARE COVID19 Lecture Series #12- (Im)migrants, Border Restrictions and Racism: Authoritarian Impulses in the Guise of Coronavirus Response – with Professor Sudeshna Roy, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas

CARE COVID19 Lecture Series #12- (Im)migrants, Border Restrictions and Racism: Authoritarian Impulses in the Guise of Coronavirus Response – with Professor Sudeshna Roy, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas

Wednesday, 16th September 2020 @ 7PM NZST


Facebook Livestream: @CAREMassey

Link:
https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/638665510413217/

Abstract:
The rise of authoritarian regimes across the world has made it more and more difficult for immigrants, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to move to places and spaces that provide more avenues of sustainable livelihood, security from religious or other forms of persecution, or simply a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Their situation has been made even more vulnerable within the context of COVID-19 and border closures. In this talk, I review current literature on (im)migrant populations and racism and critically analyze the discourses of powerful politicians from different parts of the world to unpack how their response to COVID-19 and the control of their borders have deeper and long-lasting meaning and implications for (im)migrants and other vulnerable populations. The analysis reveals that politicians’ COVID-19 responses achieve several racist and nationalist goals: tilting the ideological wars in favor of labor laws that largely disregard the value and needs of (im)migrants; promote the nationalist agenda of restricting legal immigration; and fan the fires of the strong, pressing, and, sometimes violent, aspirations of the dominant White class eager to play exclusionary politics with regard to (im)migrants’ religious/ethnic/racial identities. I end with a reflection from my personal experience as an immigrant within the COVD-19 context and provide some directions as to how discourses of resistance can be formed, even within the restrictive policies and politics of the authoritarian impulses that are rampant realities in today’s world.

For more info visit: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey
#Immigrants#BorderRestrictions#Racism#AuthoritarianImpulses#CoronavirusResponse#COVID19
#CAREMassey#CARECOVID19LectureSeries
#MasseyCJM#MasseyUni

Professor Mohan Dutta’s book “Communicating health: A culture-centered approach” receives Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association Health Communication

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation team congratulates Professor Mohan Dutta on the Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association Health Communication Division to his book, “Communicating health: A culture-centered approach” published with Polity. The book lays out the foundational concepts of the #CultureCenteredApproach (CCA), a meta-theoretical framework for health communication organizing, advocacy, and activism directed at transforming the deeply unequal structures that constitute health inequalities. The impact of the book, and its key theoretical argument on the CCA is felt globally, shaping two decades of health activism, health communication solutions, health interventions, and advocacy to shape health policy. Most vitally, the framework put forth in the book is recognized by global policy organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization UNESCO, as a lens for exploring the connections between culture and health. Cited over 485 times across #CommunicationStudies, #MedicalAnthropology, #Geography, #Sociology, #PublicHealth and #Medicine, the book has formed the basis of over 200 MA theses and doctoral dissertations.

#CultureCenteredApproach#CARECCA#CAREMassey#MasseyCJM#MasseyUni#NationalCommunicationAssociation#HealthCommunication#CommunicatingHealth#WorldHealthOrganisation#UNESCO#PolityPress

CARE WHITE PAPER ISSUE 10 : Digital Hate and the infrastructures of communicative capital

by Prof. Mohan Dutta,Director, CARE Massey University


Image source: 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited

Communicative capital, the consolidation of communicative infrastructures to drive profiteering, forms the face of twenty-first century neoliberalism. From Facebook to Amazon, digital communication is one of the most profitable sites of capitalist expansion.

Communicative capital is intertwined with financial and technological capital, drawing on the global networks of finance and simultaneously creating new sites and spaces for financialization.

Communicative capital works through the commercialization of human participation on digital platforms, turning likes, shares, and comments into profitable resources.

Of the wide array of human emotions on digital platforms that drive profiteering, hate is a powerful resource that draws in viewers, propels shares, and creates networks of flow. Hate has the potential of generating large profits because of its virality.

CARE Activist In Residence – Challenging Racism In Aotearoa New Zealand with Marise Lant – 24-28 August 2020

CARE Activist In Residence – Challenging Racism In Aotearoa New Zealand with Marise Lant

Event Dates: 24th – 28th August 2020.
Location: Manawatū campus, Massey UniversityEvents:

TUE 25 AUG – 6PM – A CONVERSATION WITH MARISE LANT
Venue: Online – via Facebook: @CAREMassey/videos

WED 26 AUG – 12PM – CARE PUBLIC TALK
Venue: SSLB3 |Social Science Lecture Block | Manawatū campus, Massey University

THU 27 AUG – 11AM – CARE WORKSHOP
Venue: CARE Lab | BSC1.06 | Manawatū campus, Massey University

FRI 28 AUG – 11AM – CARE WHITE PAPER LAUNCH
Venue: SSLB3 |Social Science Lecture Block | Manawatū campus, Massey University

Speaker Bio:

Marise Lant is a Māori leader; Lobbyist,an Indigenous rights protector; Founder of 250 Years of Colonisation – The Aftermath leading the protest and burning of the Union Jack in opposition and response to the arrival of the year replica of Endeavour to Gisborne on 8 October 2019;Previous chairperson of the Tairāwhiti District Māori Womens Welfare League; Current representative on the Tairāwhiti District Māori Council;Supporter of the Tairāwhiti Multicultural Council.

FOR MORE DETAILS FOLLOW US on: @CAREMassey or visit www.massey.ac.nz/care

CARE COVID19 Lecture Series #11 The Great Unmasking: Critical Health Communication and post-COVID futures with Dr. Shaunak Sastry, University of Cincinnati

CARE COVID19 Lecture Series #11 The Great Unmasking: Critical Health Communication and post-COVID futures with Dr. Shaunak Sastry, University of Cincinnati

CARE COVID19 LECTURE SERIES Lecture #11: The Great Unmasking: Critical Health Communication and post-COVID futures with Dr. Shaunak Sastry, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati.

Thursday, 20th August 2020 @ 6PM NZST

Facebook Livestream: @CAREMassey-

Link:
https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/661903594415297

Abstract:

The Great Unmasking: Critical Health Communication and post-COVID futuresCOVID-19 has placed squarely into the public eye some fundamental academic debates within the discipline of critical health communication, broadly defined as the scholarly interrogation of the ideological bases of available public discourses of health. In this talk, combining personal reflection and a review of relevant literature, I analyze the politicization of personal protection in global responses to COVID-19. Masks, a crucial element in COVID prevention, symbolize an individual action to minimize a societal risk, but masking (as policy) operates on certain social, institutional and political consensuses. While it is impossible to ignore the “culture war” around masking in the United States, I briefly attend to this singular aberration and explore the everyday politics of masking in other global contexts, with a focus on China. In particular, I explore the identity work that ensues from masking as public health policy, the implications of masks as social currency, and the role of “mask diplomacy” as a futile response to the conditions of neoliberal globalization that exacerbated the global risk of COVID-19. Finally, I look at mask politics through a historical-critical lens to argue that the politicization of protection is not “novel”, but a fundamental condition of pandemics through time.Bio: Dr. Shaunak Sastry, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati and Affiliate Faculty, Center for Culture-centered Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University, New Zealand. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of health and culture, globalization and health, and the cultural politics of infectious diseases. His work combines ethnographic and field-based methods with critical analysis of public discourses of health. He has published on HIV/AIDS in India, the politics of global HIV/AIDS interventions, and on the 2014 Ebola epidemic.His work has been published in leading international peer-reviewed journals like Health Communication, Communication Theory, Journal of Health Communication, Culture, Health & Sexuality, Frontiers in Communication, and Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, in addition to several book chapters and more than 30 paper presentations at national and international conferences. He is a Senior editor of the journal Health Communication, and sits on the editorial boards of several other academic journals. He is currently working on a digital ethnography of China’s early response to CoVID-19 and the politics of masking.

For more info visit www.massey.ac.nz/care

#CAREMassey #CARECOVID19LectureSeries #Unmasking #CriticalHealthCommunication #COVID19 #futures #MasseyCJM #MasseyUni

CARE Special Presentation-A Conversation with Mr. Himanshu Trivedi with Prof. Mohan Dutta

A Conversation with Himanshu Trivedi

In this conversation with Mr. Himanshu Trivedi, a former District Court Judge from Ahmedabad in Gujarat in the backdrop of the Gujarat pogrom discusses the role of the judiciary in the politics of hate.

Posted by CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation on Tuesday, 4 August 2020

CARE Special Presentation : A Conversation with Mr. Himanshu Trivedi

On Facebook : @CAREMassey

Date: 5th August 2020 at 6.30 pm – 7.30 pm

Abstract:

In this conversation with Mr. Himanshu Trivedi, a former District Court Judge from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India in the backdrop of the Gujarat pogrom discusses the role of the judiciary in the politics of hate.