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 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 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).

2004

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Reaching unhealthy eaters: Applying a strategic approach to media vehicle choice.  Health Communication, 16, 493-506.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  An alternative approach to social capital: Exploring the linkage between health consciousness and community participation.  Health Communication, 16, 393-409.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Describing volunteerism:  The theory of unified responsibility.  Journal of Public Relations Research, 16, 353-369.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Interpersonal communication after 9/11 via the telephone and the Internet: Theory of channel complementarity.  New Media and Society, 6, 661-675.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Poverty, structural barriers and health: A Santali narrative of health communication.  Qualitative Health Research, 14, 1-16.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  The unheard voices of Santalis: Communicating about health from the margins of India.  Communication Theory, 14, 237-263.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Developing a profile of consumer intention to seek out health information beyond the doctor.  Health Marketing Quarterly, 21, 91-112.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Primary sources of health information: Comparison in the domain of health attitudes, health cognitions, and health behaviors.  Health Communication, 16, 273-288.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  The impact of completeness and Web use motivation on the credibility of e-Health information.  Journal of Communication,54, 253-269.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Health attitudes, health cognitions and health behaviors among Internet health information seekers: Population-based survey.  Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6, e15.  Retrieved June 2, 2004, from http://www.jmir.org/2004/2/e15/index.htm

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  An alternative approach to entertainment education.  Journal of International Communication, 10, 93-107.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  Complementarity in consumption of news types across traditional and new media.  Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 48, 41-60.

Dutta-Bergman, M.  (2004).  A descriptive narrative of healthy eating: A social marketing approach using psychographics.  Health Marketing Quarterly, 20, 81-101.

CARE White Paper Issue 8: Structural constraints, voice infrastructures, and mental health among low-wage migrant workers in Singapore: Solutions for addressing COVID19

Structural constraints, voice infrastructures, and mental health among low-wage migrant workers in Singapore: Solutions for addressing COVID19

Mohan J. Dutta Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation, Massey University

Responding to the continued rise in COVID19 clusters in migrant worker dormitories in Singapore, and building on earlier research (See CARE White paper Issue 6), this White Paper reports on the findings of a survey conducted with low-wage migrant workers in Singapore. In addition to the poor living conditions highlighted earlier, the structural constraints on preventive behavior are explored. Drawing on the key tenets of the culture-centered approach, the research highlights the powerful role of structural factors such as arrangements of dormitories, the absence of hygienic conditions because of the structures, the lack of clean toilets, pressure on limited toilets, and scarcity of water. The findings highlight the challenges to mental health and wellbeing experienced by the workers. Moreover, it points to the absence of voice infrastructures, and the ways in which this absence contributes to conditions that are rife for the pandemic. Solutions for structural solutions and voice democracy are offered.

CARE White Paper Issue 7: April 2020- Culture-centered community-led testing

Culture-centered community-led testing

by Gayle Moana – Johnson, CARE – Community Research Assistant and Mohan J. Dutta, Director,Center for Culture – centered Approach to Research & Evaluation Massey University

In this white paper, the community advisory group in Highbury, working with community researcher Gayle Moana-Johnson, developed the key conceptual guidelines for culture-centered community-grounded testing. The white paper highlights the key concepts anchoring the partnership between the community advisory group and the clinical team at HHPNZ

This white paper outlines the key principles of culture-centered community-led testing that are voiced by the advisory group of community members in Highbury, anchored in the principle of representing the most “in-need” members of the community (referred in the rest of this white paper as the “margins of the margins”). The key ideas in this white paper are developed as anchoring principles for the partnership between the community advisory group and the Health Hub Project New Zealand (HHPNZ).

CARE OPED: COVID19 – The Time For Communicative Leadership: Lessons from Aotearoa

MOHAN J.DUTTA | 4 APRIL, 2020

New Zealand shows the way


Communicative leadership is anchored in the idea of communication as community, communication as both the primordial source of community, and communication as a resource in manifesting community. Communication forms the infrastructure of community.

Be it in its local manifestation, in its national articulation of a collective identity, or in its global networks in response to crises, community is built on communication.

Communication as communion brings together participants in spaces, creating the basis of shared values, shared meanings, and shared actions. It is through the fundamental work of communication as bridging, as bringing people together, as creating the basis of dialogue, as creating the framework for forming and sustaining relationships that we come to realize communities.

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to make evident the powerful role of communication as constitutive of community, locally, nationally, and globally. Also, it shouldn’t take a pandemic to recognize the urgency of principled communication, one that is anchored in the search for truth, in transparency, in dialogue, and in democracy.

And yet, we are here.

Globally we are in the midst of a pandemic because of communicative failures at multiple layers of leadership across the globe, from authoritarian regimes that worked hard to hide the initial information about the epidemic, to opaque global institutions that are co-opted by the agendas of authoritarian regimes, to neo-fascist political parties that have taken over some of the world’s largest democracies, driven to power by their manipulative campaigns that thrive on hate and division.

The failure of much of global leadership to respond to the pandemic, to develop preventive resources, to create and sustain health infrastructures, and to care for communities is fundamentally the failure of communication.

Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, Boris Johnson, globally we are witnessing the implications of communicative failures across nation states. Each of these men have risen to power through the deployment of communication as an instrument of hate.

Trump draws his power from simplistic narratives of the “outsider threat,” which forms the infrastructure of his “Make America Great Again” campaign. It is no surprise then that he finds refuge in the “Chinese virus,” triggering a wide range of anti-Asian incidents of hate in the U.S.

Modi’s popular appeal thrives on the use of hate to prop up an imaginary of a Hindu India, built precisely through the exclusion of its Muslim other. For a political project that was right until the COVID19 outbreak orchestrating the xenophobic exclusion of India’s Muslims through its National Registry of Citizens, it is no surprise that the COVID19 threat would be catalysed to orchestrate Islamophobia.

Driven by the deployment of communication as propaganda, U.S., Brazil, India, and U.K. have witnessed the pitfalls of communicative failure in the backdrop of COVID19. Communication, in its utter ugliness, thrives on circulating propaganda on one hand. On the other hand, it systematically obfuscates the failure in governance, the absence of basic public health and welfare infrastructures, and the abject failure of the state to care for its poor and underclasses.

In the midst of this evident failure in leadership in some of the largest democracies across the globe, it is humbling to witness a model of communicative leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand that is anchored in care, transparent communication, social justice, and democracy.

The face of the New Zealand response is the Prime Minister, a student and adept practitioner of communication as communion.

From the initial days of the sharing of the state’s COVID19 response to the ongoing lockdown that the country is witnessing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appears on the screen at least once or twice a day. Her daily briefings to the press are fed through a wide range of broadcast and new media. You witness a leader that takes the care to respond to the most difficult of questions, supported by accurate information grounded in scientific knowledge, and sincerely committed to transparency. If there are questions she does not have the information on, she states so openly and with clarity.

Communicative leadership is transparent, this is one of the first lessons we learn from the response in Aotearoa.

Communicative leadership is evident in the clarity and preparation with which the lockdown was implemented in Aotearoa. Each of the different levels of response to COVID19 were explained with clarity, along with the specific behaviors being recommended in each of the levels. The message with the behavioral recommendation was simple and is repeated multiple times across channels. The Minister of Health and the Director General of Health communicated information clearly about the number of cases, the status of the cases, and the steps being taken to “flatten the curve.” A dedicated Government website communicates the information clearly and with daily updates.

In addition to her meetings with the Press, the Prime Minister draws on her highly popular Facebook live platform to participate in conversations. She takes the time to read questions and directly respond to them, often getting online from home in an informal setting.

Her responses are not mediated by public relations teams or crisis consultants.

This is communicative leadership in action, authentic in its dialogic potential. It is this very authenticity that forms the basis of community, a key part of the Prime Minister’s ongoing message to New Zealanders, to do what New Zealanders do best: respond to COVID19 as a community, caring for each other, and taking care of each other.

Care also forms the basis of a strategy that incrementally moved into the lockdown. An initial level 3 alert gave people an opportunity to prepare, before the level 4 lockdown was implemented. During this period, there was ample communication about the evidence driving the decisions, the basis of the decisions, the explanations for the behaviors being recommended, and the support available to enable the behavior.

Care and social justice form the basis of the Labour-led response strategy in Aotearoa. The lockdown has been supported with state-driven financial support for employees, with paid leave support given to organizations to ensure job security. Similarly, policies have targeted rents to be paid during the lockdown. The Minister of Finance often accompanies the Prime Minister in communicating the financial policies being put into place for support. Anchoring these policies in justice ensures that the rights of workers and low-income communities are at the forefront of the conversation.

The strong presence of Māori culture in Aotearoa shapes the state’s response to kaumātua (the aging members of communities) with care, ensuring their wellbeing is placed at the heart of the response. Communities across Aotearoa reflect this communicative leadership in local spaces, responding with mutual aid and support for each other. Communities of care anchored in mutuality hold up communicative leadership.

That robust democracies are integral to COVID19 response means that there ought to be ample room for plural voices, for questions to be raised, and for evidence to be shared based on experiences in communities to shape a climate of dialogue. In our work at the Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) in Aotearoa, this opening for ongoing dialogue based on community voice is perhaps one of the strongest elements of communicative leadership. Even as we develop advocacy papers based on questions emerging from communities, we often find that the issues we raise have already been addressed at a rapid pace.

Democracies depend on their abilities to listen to the people that own them. We witness in the COVID19 response in Aotearoa this accountability to the people, supporting a flexible infrastructure that is continually responsive to the pandemic and its changing nature.

Certainly there are ongoing challenges as the state responds to the changing numbers and scale of the pandemic. A communicative leadership has the robust capability to respond to these ongoing challenges because it is based on the recognition of the fundamental role of communication in making our communities and in sustaining them.

In an earlier OpEd, I wrote about COVID19 offering us a window into imagining new ways of organizing our communities, democracies, and the earth. Communicative leadership is a key ingredient in this work of imagination.

Article Source: The Time For Communicative Leadership Lessons from Aotearoa

MOHAN J.DUTTA | 4 APRIL, 2020

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CARE White Paper Issue 4: March 2020 – COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Package

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Package

by Christine Elers (Ngā Hau), Junior Research Officer, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation (CARE)

We are writing about the government’s covid-19 wage subsidy package, in particular:

  • the sick leave payment due to be folded into the modified covid-19 wage subsidy package; and
  • the online publication outlining the names of all employers who have received the covid-19 wage subsidy package.

CARE OPED: COVID19 – India’s Underclasses and the Depravity of Our Unequal Societies

What COVID19 makes visible


Article: COVID19 – India’s Underclasses and the Depravity of Our Unequal Societies

“It takes a pandemic to render visible the deep inequalities that make up the highly unequal societies we inhabit. As pandemics go, the power of COVID19 lies in its mobility, along the circuits of global capital, picked up and carried by the upwardly mobile classes feeding the financial and technology hubs of capital.

The irony of neoliberal globalization lies in the disproportionate burden of accelerated mobilities borne by the bodies of the poor at the global margins. The poor, whose bodies are the sites of neoliberal extraction, are also the bodies to be easily discarded when crises hit.

The images of throngs of people, the poor, now expelled from their spaces of precarious work at the metropolitan centers of financial and technology capital, spaces that are projected as the poster-models of mobility in development propaganda, walking on the long walk home, are circulating across our mobile screens.

Images of a migrant worker dead after the gruelling walk home, a mother pulling her daughter as they try to make their way home, a young man bursting into tears at the sight of food, a father walking as he carries his sleeping daughter on his shoulders, crowds of workers waiting in long lines to board buses, these are the faces of the unequal India made visible by COVID19.

These images of emaciated men and women, with little children, carrying pots, torn down bags and dilapidated beddings on their heads, walking on the roads and highways that form the infrastructures of the new India are haunting reminders of the masses of displaced people expelled by wars, riots, genocides, and famines.”

By: MOHAN J.DUTTA | 29 MARCH, 2020

Source:https://www.thecitizen.in/