CARE Research: Culture-Centered Processes of Community Organizing in COVID-19 Response: Notes From Kerala and Aotearoa

Check out our latest research article published in Frontiers journal.

Title: Culture-Centered Processes of Community Organizing in COVID-19 Response: Notes From Kerala and Aotearoa New Zealand by Prof. Mohan Dutta, Christine Elers and Pooja Jayan, CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation, Massey University

Overview: The culture-centered processes of community organizing drawn on the case studies of community organizing in Communist Kerala and in Iwi-led Māori checkpoints in settler colonial Aotearoa New Zealand foreground the vital work of alternative practices of health response, serving as the basis for robust alternative imaginations amid the pandemic.

Here is the link to the full article –
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcomm.2020.00062/full#h9

#CultureCenteredProcesses #CommunityOrganizing #COVID19Response #Kerala #Aotearoa #NewZealand #CCA #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MasseyCJM #MasseyUni

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CARE White Paper Issue 9: Relocating the Health of Transgender Sex Workers in Singapore from the Margins: A Culture-Centered Approach

While there is high visibility of LGBT advocacy in Singapore, transgender[1] persons comprise a small, marginalized portion of the community, an even smaller proportion of which tend to go into sex work at a young age for various economic, social and cultural factors. Transgender sex workers (TSW) in Singapore comprise a marginalized community that has been identified by health authorities as one that is high risk of HIV/AIDS and other STIs, as with cisgender[2] female sex workers. They are further marginalized for their status as sex workers in an Asian society where sex outside of marriage is considered deviant behavior (Banerjee, 2000; Allard K Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, 2015). Sex work for transgender persons embodies an array of vulnerabilities ranging from income instability and health insecurities to everyday experiences of discrimination and communicative inequalities in articulating the problems faced by transgender sex workers (Perez-Brumer, 2016). Neoliberal state laws and policies in Singapore acknowledge that while sex work cannot be eradicated as this may force the activities underground and encourage organized crime, sex trafficking and public health risks (Singapore Parliament Reports), these laws do not deem sex work itself as illegal, but criminalize sex work-related activities such as soliciting, pimping, and owning brothels (Misc. Offences Act Art 19; Women’s Charter Art 146; Women’s Charter Art 148). Migrant sex workers are increasingly vulnerable, and may face arrest, fines, deportation and bans from the state for 3 years or more (Immigration Act Art 8(3)(e)(f); Allard K Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, 2015).

CARE COVID-19 Lecture Series-Lecture #10: Uncertainty before, during, and after COVID: Uneven distribution, impact, and management with Prof . Walid A. Afifi

CARE COVID-19 Lecture Series-Lecture #10: Uncertainty before, during, and after COVID: Uneven distribution, impact, and management with Prof. Walid A. Afifi

Thousands of headlines in the past few months alone have referenced the uncertainty that we are going through, and “during these uncertain times” is a part of nearly everything written about the pandemic. However, uncertainty is not new. In fact, it individuals have experienced (and tried to manage) uncertainty since the advent of time, so, what, if anything, makes this pandemic moment unique? Prof. Afifi, a Fellow of the International Communication Association, is among the world-wide leaders in the study of uncertainty. In this discussion, he will overview some of the decades of research on uncertainty across disciplines and geographic boundaries, and reflect on both the uneven distribution of uncertainty across communities and on the implications therein. He will also share preliminary data from a four-wave national study collected in the United States across a three month period spanning early stages of the covid pandemic, and introduce for the first time a framework that identifies four broad coping strategies for community-wide and chronic experiences of uncertainty.

Bio:
Walid A. Afifi (PhD, University of Arizona) is a Professor in the Department of Communication and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He is an author on over 75 articles, chapters, and books, served as Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa (2013-2016), served as Chair (2016-2018) of national Task Force on academic-community collaboration with members of oppressed communities, and is a leading voice in the Communication discipline to create more inclusive spaces. His program of research revolves around uncertainty and information-management decisions and has led to the development and refinement of the Theory of Motivated Information Management. That work has increasingly focused on immigrant communities and/or communities experiencing trauma. He was recently elected as a Fellow of the International Communication Association (the first Palestinian so honored) and recognized by UCSB for “extraordinary commitment to the general growth and development of students and the quality of student life.” He is a proud father to two daughters.

More info on CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation & Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey

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CARE COVID-19 Lecture Series-Lecture #9: Culturally-Centering Socialist Futures in COVID with Prof. Mohan Dutta

CARE COVID-19 Lecture Series-Lecture #9: Culturally-Centering Socialist Futures in COVID with Prof. Mohan Dutta

CARE COVID-19 Lecture Series – Lecture #9: Culturally-Centering Socialist Futures in COVID Transformations with Prof. Mohan Dutta.

Facebook Live stream Link: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/275117623792323

Abstract: In this talk, based on the example of the COVID-19 response in the state of Kerala, Mohan Dutta will examine socialist processes of organizing politics and economics in COVID-19 response. He will draw on the key tenets of the culture-centered approach (CCA) to outline culture-centered principles of socialist organizing of health, economics, and politics.

More info on CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey

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This is Me: Professor Mohan Dutta

Q & A with Prof. Mohan Dutta by Gabriella Davila, Senior Communications Advisor, Massey University

Staff questions and answers

Professor Mohan Dutta is the Director of global research hub, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) which relocated to Massey in 2018 from Singapore.  He is also Dean’s Chair, Professor of Communication at the School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing.

His research examines marginalisation in contemporary health/healthcare, health care inequalities, the intersections of poverty and health experiences at the margins, and the political economy of global health policies.

Mohan has received more than $6 million in funding to work on culture-centered projects of health communication, social change, and health advocacy. Working broadly on social change interventions designed to achieve the sustainable development goals Mohan has directed seven documentaries, run more than 20 360 degrees advocacy campaigns, and guided the building of various wellbeing infrastructures from irrigation systems and cultural spaces to health care systems and city design. His impact on global policy-making is evident in his advisory roles with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

He has written and edited 10 books and more than 200 articles and book chapters. Earlier this month, he published the book, “Communication, culture and social change: Meaning, co-option, and resistance” with Palgrave MacMillan. He has previously been recognised as an Outstanding Applied/Public Policy Communication Researcher of the ICA and Outstanding Health Communication Researcher of the National Communication Association). Earlier this month he was named a Fellow of the International Communication Association

Can you tell us about your childhood?

I grew up in a middle-class family in a town called Kharagpur in West Bengal, in the eastern part of India in a family of teachers, union organisers, Left party workers, and activists. My childhood in many ways was very simple but also enriching, surrounded by people that were engaged in wanting to make change in the world.

I also grew up in what’s called in India a joint family which is quite similar to the concept of whānau in Aotearoa. We had this one house where two of my dad’s sisters and seven brothers all lived together with my grandmother who was the matriarch and played a key role in holding the family together. I was brought up with 18 cousins and it was quite beautiful in terms of this idea of a collective and a broader whānau caring for each other. This collective played a big role in terms of my own learning and support because when I got a scholarship to go study in the US, for instance, even just arranging the flight ticket didn’t just fall on my dad. My uncles and cousins all chipped in to pay for that money and that is how the broader collective is organised.

What did you like learning when you were a child?

My interests were pretty wide ranging. I loved sciences very much and I did my undergraduate degree in engineering. I really loved maths, physics, biology, and at the same time I also loved English, geography and history.

Learning happened for me inside the classroom but also outside of the classroom and I learned being on picket lines with say an uncle or being a street performer. When I was around 11 or 12, I started performing in many street plays with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and often the plays were held at protest marches. When I was growing up, India had strong spaces of resistance against The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). And those were great moments of learning because they taught you in terms of the power of a broader collective and building registers for change against the individualising logics of neoliberalism.

Can you tell us about your most inspiring teacher and why?

My eldest uncle was the headmaster of the local school and I learned a lot witnessing how transformative his impact was, certainly not just in the small little community but in the broader township where we lived and his ability to touch lives.

I had another uncle who was a maths teacher and a union organiser. Early in the mornings on the weekends, children of many different ages would come to our house or sit down with him and learn in an open space. I think that those moments taught me that teaching can be transformative, it can create pathways of mobility for others, and it can make a big difference in society.

How and when did you decide what your career would be?

After I completed my undergraduate engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), I realised I didn’t want to continue with engineering and instead I wanted to do something that had to do with human beings and connecting with them and interacting with them.

It seemed to me that in very disenfranchised communities, the challenge of wellbeing was not one of developing engineering and more technical solutions, but really a challenge of communication in terms of how to communicate and where communities can have a voice in creating policies and solutions that address their needs.

I think that interest in wanting to develop a pedagogy of voice and how those communities have a say was the turning point. I realised that my training as an agricultural engineer at an elite Indian university that produces technology leaders (many CEOs and technopreneurs across the globe are IIT graduates) was quite limited because it didn’t really teach you how to work with the communities that you wanted to develop solutions for. Communication was and is often the missing link, when you consider the challenges of poverty, health and wellbeing, clean drinking water, decent work, inequality and justice outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals.

In one sentence can you describe the purpose of your present position?

I am the Director of Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) and what we do as a collective of researchers, community organisers, activists and communities, is to develop methods of communication and radical democracy so that communities can have a voice and really, have a say in the policies and solutions that are created, and in defining the futures that they would like to live in.

How did you decide to relocate CARE to New Zealand?

CARE’swork is with very disenfranchised communities and there can sometimes be some significant challenges when working within specific authoritarian contexts such as Singapore, neo-fascist India under the Modi regime, or China. Certainly, the Center was up against some significant state pressures when working with rights of low-wage migrant workers and questions of poverty in Singapore.

After pushing against the system and the structure for six years, I was at that point thinking what could this look like if CARE was in a system that was more aligned with its values and philosophy.

We had a number of choices in terms of whether to move the research centre to the US, and whether to move to some other parts of Asia such as Hong Kong, but New Zealand was really appealing because of the confluence of the politics and the ethics of care in the country.

Do you believe that what you do changes people’s lives?

Absolutely. I want to say this with humility, that as an academic who works on communication for social change, one learns very quickly that change takes a long time. It also takes a lot of commitment, not just in terms of one’s role as an academic but I think the commitment of people and communities and other researchers and activists to make change happen.

Having said that, I think that we have a lot of evidence that what we do actually impacts lives and contributes to better outcomes of health and wellbeing. For instance, when you witness our work in rural India in very disenfranchised indigenous communities living in extreme poverty, CARE’s work has translated into building sources of clean drinking water. These communities would otherwise have to dig deep into the ground and get water through a filtering process. In those contexts, we work on developing community democracy to get access through development structures and institutions to clean drinking water.

We work with people on developing methods of advocacy and activism and this very idea of community democracy succeeds in very tangible ways. From designing development infrastructures rooted in democracy to designing hospitals, cities, and health care systems that are anchored in social justice, CARE makes real impact in people’s lives. Also, our work in communities is not episodic. Instead, these are sustained interventions developed through a commitment of a lifetime.

What do you like doing when you’re not working?

Fatherhood brings much joy and meaning in my life. Debalina [wife] and I have three children and we hang out with them, take them places and play with them. That really takes up the rest of the time outside of work. I am privileged and blessed being a father and really enjoy it.

Source: Gabriella Davila, Senior Communications Advisor, Massey University.

The Stiletto Project: A culture-centered co-creative journey with transgender sexworkers in Singapore

posted by Mohan J. Dutta ,CARE Director on July 08, 2020

Link to the CARE White Paper – Issue 9: Relocating the Health of Transgender Sex Workers in Singapore from the Margins: A Culture-Centered Approach

The Stiletto Project, a communication platform, co-created by an advisory group of transgender sexworkers, emerged out of an ongoing relationship between CARE and Project X, South-east Asia’s leading transgender sexworker advocacy organization.

The Stiletto Project showcases the role of participatory communication processes in creating openings for community voices at the “margins of the margins.” 
As an advocacy and activist intervention, the Project emerges from a culture-centered process that works with transgender sex workers (TSWs) in Singapore through advisory groups, in-depth interviews, focus groups, a community-wide rights-based health intervention,  a pre-post survey in the community, and a national-level pre-post survey to identify the problems transgender sex workers face with health, violence, ageing and other affected areas of their life, as well as to implement policy-based advocacy solutions to health and wellbeing.

In 2014, the CARE team initiated a collaboration with Project X to reach out to local transgender sex workers and to form an advisory group of transgender sex workers. The task of the advisory group was simple: to come up with a list of key issues they wanted to work on and to crowdsource the solutions they propose to these issues. 
In 2016, they collaborated to produce a media campaign to create awareness of issues that they faced, the most salient one being stigma and discrimination.

The project went into production in late 2015, with the CARE team developing a website housing health information relevant for this community, based on strategies identified by the community. In addition to the digital component of the campaign, the peer leaders began reaching out to the community to deliver a health intervention in the form of postcards designed for TSWs, by TSWs.

The Stiletto Alliance worked through the framework of the CCA to develop solutions to health and wellbeing rooted in the experiences of community members. 
Challenging the traditional notion of campaigns usually targeting the transgender community with safer sex messaging, The Stiletto Alliance focused on developing infrastructures for community-responsive health information (sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy) resources and implementing communicative strategies for addressing discrimination and stigma.

Culture Centered Approach blogspot:

The Stiletto Project: A culture-centered co-creative journey with transgender sexworkers in Singapore


CARE Covid19 Lecture Series #8: Using data to design, refine, implement, and sustain health risk communication programs for responding to pandemics with Dr Gary L. Kreps

CARE Covid19 Lecture Series #8: Using data to design, refine, implement, and sustain health risk communication programs for responding to pandemics with Dr Gary L. Kreps

CARE COVID 19 Lecture Series
Lecture 8: Using data to design, refine, implement, and sustain health risk communication programs for responding to pandemics with Dr Gary L. Kreps, Ph.D., FAAHB, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Communication Director, Center for Health and Risk Communication, George Mason University

Facebook Livestream link:
https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/259328568842831/

Abstract:
Evaluation research is desperately needed to provide the evidence needed to guide effective prevention, preparation, and response efforts for countering the deadly effects of pandemics, such as COVID-19! We need to conduct surveillance research (such as epidemiological research) to monitor impending health risks, disseminate the latest surveillance data about health risks to policy makers, first-responders, and affected publics, using research to guide evidence-based health risk reduction efforts. Research should guide mobilization of essential risk response resources and personnel, determine needed education and training activities, and guide the implementation of relevant public policies and programs to prepare for pandemics. When pandemics do hit, we need good data to guide development of coordinated treatment and mitigation programs, including designing relevant communication efforts to inform, persuade, and enforce the best evidence-based health risk response activities. These risk response efforts must be carefully monitored and evaluated to identify what is working and what is not when responding to pandemics, to guide needed refinements to health risk programs and policies. Needs analysis research must examine the nature of health risks, identify who is at risk, and suggest what can be done to reduce their risks. Audience analysis must guide appropriate communication with key at-risk populations, especially by actively engaging members of these populations to participate in developing and implementing appropriate response programs. This presentation will examine the best evaluation research strategies for guiding effective communication and response efforts for pandemics to reduce risks and save lives!

More info on CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation website: https://www.massey.ac.nz/care/

#CAREMassey#CARECovidLectureSeries#COVID19
#Sustainability#HealthRiskCommunicationPrograms#Pandemics
#CAREMasseyNZ#MasseyCJM#MasseyBusinessSchool#MasseyUni

CARE News: Professor Mohan Dutta named ICA Fellow

Professor Mohan Dutta has been named a Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA)


Professor Mohan Dutta.

ICA is an international association which aims to advance the scholarly study of human communication by encouraging and facilitating excellence in academic research worldwide. Fellow status is a recognition of distinguished scholarly contributions to the broad field of communication, and is based on a documented record of scholarly achievement.

Professor Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor and Director, Centre for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), says the honour is humbling.

Based on his work on healthcare among indigenous communities, sex workers, migrant workers, farmers, and communities living in extreme poverty, Professor Dutta has developed a framework called the culture-centred approach that outlines culturally-based participatory strategies of radical democracy for addressing unequal health policies. The culture-centered approach centres the voices of communities at the global margins.

“I see this as a recognition of the work of the culture-centered approach (CCA) in crafting out solidarities with communities at the margins in addressing entrenched injustices globally. The voices and struggles of disenfranchised communities for social justice forms the foundation of this work that our community-activist-advocate-researcher teams have been carrying out over the last two decades.

“Now more than ever, amidst racist processes of marginalisation, structural attacks on the poor, depletion of democratic spaces, challenges of climate injustice, and a pandemic that is further disenfranchising the poor and the working classes, I see the CCA as an anchor for a communicative register for care and equality across global struggles at/of the margins,” he says.

Professor Dutta has received over $6 million in funding to work on culture-centered projects of health communication, social change, and health advocacy. Professor Dutta has directed seven documentaries, run over twenty advocacy interventions, and guided the building of various wellbeing infrastructures from irrigation systems to health care systems. He has written and edited ten books and over 200 articles and book chapters. He has previously been recognised as an Outstanding Applied/Public Policy Communication Researcher of the ICA and Outstanding Health Communication Researcher of the National Communication Association (NCA). 

Professor Dutta will travel to the United States to receive a plaque during the ICA presidential awards ceremony in May 2021.

CARE Covid19 Lecture Series #7: Reshaping Our Political Horizons in Aotearoa New Zealand: Imagining and Creating a Different Future in the Wake of COVID-19

CARE Covid19 Lecture Series #7: Reshaping Our Political Horizons in Aotearoa New Zealand: Imagining and Creating a Different Future in the Wake of COVID-19 with Dr Sue Bradford

CARE Covid19 Lecture Series #7: Reshaping Our Political Horizons in Aotearoa New Zealand: Imagining and Creating a Different Future in the Wake of COVID-19

Facebook Livestream link:
https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/2967330713385426/

CARE COVID 19 Lecture Series
Lecture 7: Reshaping our political horizons in Aotearoa New Zealand: Imagining and creating a different future in the wake of COVID with Dr Sue Bradford, Community Educator with Kotare Research and Education for Social Change in Aotearoa.

Facebook Livestream link: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/2967330713385426/

Abstract
The health and economic impacts of the covid pandemic have spun our world on its axis. What was ‘normal’ before the covid crisis hit is unlikely to ever be the same ‘normal’ again. In this contribution to the discussions taking place across progressive left communities at present, I will explore some of the opportunities I see opening in front of us to imagine together a vision for this country which moves us not only post-covid but also post-capitalism and post-colonialism; and to share some ideas about how we might invigorate our work within and across some of the sectoral, geographical, academic/activist and other differences which too often divide and weaken our efforts. On its own, imagining a better future is never enough, although a vision that inspires is essential to creating change. We also need to make the most of this historic moment to think together, strategise and act in ways that will strengthen and expand our programmatic and organisational horizons.

Bio: Dr Sue Bradford, Community Educator with Kotare Research and Education for Social Change in Aotearoa, former longtime unemployed workers’ rights activist and Green MP (1999 – 2009).

Dr. Sue is CARE’s first #ActivistInResidence at Massey University

More info on CARE Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/

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#ReshapingPoliticalHorizons#Aotearoa#NewZealand
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CARE Director Professor Mohan Dutta participated in a call-in conversation, “Are we racist?” with Jacinta Parsons

CARE Director Professor Mohan Dutta participated in a call-in conversation, “Are we racist?” with Jacinta Parsons at ABC Radio Australia, discussing Black Lives Matter, racism, Whiteness, and the colonizing project.

“As tensions around race and racism boil over in America is it time for Australians to look closer to home?

Image Source: VectorStock

Prof Mohan Dutta is Director of the Centre for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at New Zealand’s Massey University and he joins Jacinta Parsons and her listeners for a frank and illuminating discussion.

Duration: 24min 43sec
Broadcast: Wed 3 Jun 2020, 12:30pm”

Here’s a link to the dialogue.

https://www.abc.net.au/…/…/afternoons/are-we-racist/12317616