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 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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Twitter: @CAREMasseyNZ


 

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/

Op-Ed: For a few weeks, we heard Muslim voices. Then the free speech debate took over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a few weeks, we heard Muslim voices. Then the free speech debate took over

 | Guest writer Opinion

 

It will always be hard to keep Muslim and migrant perspectives in the foreground as long as material support is wanting, write Mohan Dutta and Murdoch Stephens

After the mosque attacks in Christchurch, there was a strong call from media to centre Muslim responses. For a few short weeks, the voices from the attacked communities were not only heard but prioritised.

But as the weeks turn to months, there has been a change to the way we talk about voices and speech. No longer were people discussing prioritising the voices from specific communities. Instead, to the fore rode more abstract and legal questions of hate speech and free speech.

We have no problem with a public discussion on hate speech and free speech, even if it means we have to put up with myopic views of freedom to speak that exclude freedom from hate speech. However, we are concerned that this debate has overshadowed the need for medium and long term reforms that focus on whose voices are prioritised.

Two days after the mosque attacks, one of the authors of this article spoke at length to a senior member of the government who assured him that there would be government support for these communities. But as the budget came and went, there was very little to help sustain these communities other than short-term funding for mental health. Compare that to the opaque $25m spent on stopping asylum seekers arriving by boat and it feels like little has changed. Even the much needed Multicultural Hub is backed by the local council, not central government.

Prioritising Muslim voices generally meant seeking out those community members already skilled at public communication. In the medium term, we can’t expect these individuals to continue to offer commentary: most are employed in other jobs, and not always places that look kindly on advocacy and journalism.

Luckily, we already have organisations established that can provide commentary from Muslim and migrant perspectives. Consider the work by Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council, Imam Gamal Fouda from the Al-Noor mosque or Ahmad Tani from the Canterbury Refugee Centre.

We are particularly interested in the last of these three. The day after the mosque attacks it was the Canterbury Refugee Centre and Mr Tani who hosted Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch. Tani’s organisation is one of a handful around New Zealand funded through MBIE’s Strengthening Refugee Voices (SRV) programme. SRV organisations organise hui to collect and then communicate former refugee experiences – including many new Muslim New Zealanders – to Immigration New Zealand. Though we understand there is no neat crossover between refugee and Muslim communities, the SRV programme is one way that the least heard voices from the Muslim community can be amplified.

Emerging in the third term of the previous Labour government, it is fascinating to look back on where the policy came from. Then Immigration Minister David Cunliffe, speaking to refugee community leaders, announced the SRV funding as part of an earlier $62m budget package for the area. But the allocation for these refugee community groups was only $250,000 per year. That is not $250,000 per organisation, but in total, across all resettlement centres.

More than ten years since the establishment of SRV it is time for a review. Resettlement of refugees has moved away from Auckland with five other centres – Wellington, Waikato, Nelson, the Manawatū and Dunedin – now hosting more in each case than our largest city. On top of this, the next year will see the opening of six new resettlement centres in smaller regions.

Immigration New Zealand explicitly states, on page three of their resettlement strategy, “At the heart of the Strategy is the refugee voice. The Strategy was developed by Government and service providers in conjunction with former refugees and the identification of strategic priorities is undertaken in consultation with refugee communities.”

We agree that voice lies at the heart of sustaining an infrastructure for addressing the climate of hate experienced by refugees. Building spaces where voices of refugees can be heard is integral to addressing the challenges experienced by refugees. Moreover, the broader climate of prejudice and hate is addressed through the presence of refugee voices.

Last week, Immigration NZ told resettlement organisations that SRV would be reformulated for the expanded quota. But instead of facilitating this work through the usual full year contract, the groups we talked to have been offered just six months. In addition to the actual work of engaging with resettled communities, they are now being required to do the groundwork of redesigning the programme, which one of our contacts described as “a significant workload increase”.

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In researching our just released White Paper on Strengthening Refugee Voices for the CARE centre, we discussed these issues with many interested parties. One of us met with Immigration NZ representatives in their MBIE headquarters in Wellington recently renovated for $15m. But when we met the head of a smaller resettlement organisation – not one of the original four – we had to meet in a public library. They simply did not have the funds for an office, let alone a salary. This person was tasked with coordinating and reporting on one of the largest refugee background communities on a budget of $6,000. How, we wondered, can refugee voices really be at the heart of the strategy when the material support is so wanting?

Over the coming months, the country will be doused in debates over free speech for those already affluent enough to want for nothing. Some of the newest members of our Muslim community, on the other hand, will arrive to a new land, and perhaps a new language. How, we ask, will their voices be heard?

In November 2018 Murdoch Stephens was invited to be an activist in residence with Professor Mohan Dutta’s CARE research centre at Massey University in Palmerston North. The White Paper that emerged from that residency can be found here.

Soruce: SHOUTY MCSHOURFACE. PHOTO: GETTY

Website:  https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/04-07-2019/for-a-few-weeks-we-heard-muslim-voices-then-the-free-speech-debate-took-over


 

 

 

 

 

 

CARE OpEd: Saffron Mainstreamed Through Political and Media Discourse

To reclaim India is to reclaim both the secular and socialist roots of the nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOHAN J.DUTTA | 1 MAY, 2019

To reclaim India is to reclaim both the secular and socialist roots of the nation.

Building up to the 2019 elections, the question, “whether India will be India,” is being asked in various conversations across India, in the diaspora, and globally. The question is a powerful one and one that calls for critical reflection as India goes to vote.

What is the idea of India that needs to be defended with vigour?

And more importantly, how does this conversation on India taking place in mostly English language plaforms, often among the elite, connect with the conversations on the idea of India taking place in India’s fields, among the farmers, in the production units, among the workers, among the large numbers of unemployed youth, among the precarious workers in the informal sectors, among India’s Muslims who live amidst the everyday fear for their lives, among India’s adivasi peoples?

Going back three decades to my NCERT textbooks in the Kendriya Vidyalaya where I went to school and learned my first lessons on citizenship, I am reminded that the idea of India was never articulated as a concept in the classroom.

One took the idea of India as a given in the concepts of secularism, socialism, and democracy. The lessons in history and geography in the classroom were strengthened and crystallized in community life, in the neighbourhood, in celebrations, and in the everyday culture.

That secularism is how one simply lived and how communities breathed their everyday life was evident in the neighbourhoods, local markets, tea stalls, mosques, churches, and temples. The sound of the azaan at dawn mingled in perfect harmony with the sound of the bells from the evening prayer at the temple.

That socialism forms the democratic aspiration of people was manifest in the land reforms, strong voices of unions, the strong presence of the Left parties, and the equally strong presence of social movements.

The twin concepts of secularism and socialism formed the bulwark of democratic life. The vibrant community groups, local governance, and public participation in the democracy were guided by the calls to equality.

These key ideas defined for me the spirit of India, with its vast openness to many faiths, worldviews, and ways of thought. The Red Book stores that would be on full display in the front of the Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal reflected for me the essence of this spirit.

In the Bengal of the 1980s and 90s when I was growing up, the idea of India was marked by its absence. One simply witnessed the values of socialism, secularism, and democracy in the fabric of daily life.

The first time that I grappled with the meaning of India was in December 1991, with the image of the chariot procession of the now revived-as-a-liberal icon, Lal Krishna Advani, and the mobs that had secured access to the mosque. The images of the destruction of the mosque by saffron-waving gangs quickly transformed into stories of violence and riots as they started erupting across India.

That was the first time as a College-going student I grappled with the idea of India.

Fast forward three decades, the saffron-wearing fringe elements are now running India. One of them, selling the story of struggling out of poverty to become a leader of a democracy, is now the Prime Minister. Many accounts suggest that the same saffron-clad icon was complicit in the massacre of innocent Muslims as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The saffron tide of 2014 that brought the extremist fringe into power was also a continuity of the extreme neoliberal policies that saw entrenched inequalities, disenfranchisement, and weakening of worker collectivization.

That the ideas of socialism and democracy, the other two anchors of the idea of India, were already disappearing under a neoliberal deluge is reflected in the full-fledged turn to liberalization. Even as the urban landscape started rapidly transforming, socialism became outdated and secularism turned into an abuse.

Programs such as Operation Green Hunt were organized campaigns that legitimized the systematic attack on India’s adivasi people to enable large scale land grab, privatization, and profiteering, all in in the name of development. For journalists fed on the neoliberal ideology, the market offered the all-emancipating solution.

The neoliberal promise, that the turn to the market would cleanse the corruption, formed the zeitgeist of this new India. Large movements promising to cleanse corruption performed public spectacles, all too appealing to the neoliberal imaginaries of the urban middle classes. The country could be free from corruption and economic growth could be achieved, placing private capital as the solution.

Paradoxically, the notion that the private sector and its profit-driven motives formed the basic infrastructure of corruption was strategically obfuscated, instead promoting reforms that were seductive for the middle classes.

This very premise of corruption-free economic development mainstreamed the saffron fringe. That economic development driven by further neoliberal reforms would present a new India was the promise offered by the saffron regime. For many of the middle classes and those in the diaspora, the saffron was unpalatable but the stigma of fringe could be set aside with the promise of “Make in India.” The promise of further neoliberal reforms, dressed up in cleansing India of corruption, and modelled after “vibrant Gujarat” worked to erase the stigma of the saffron for the Indian middle class that identified as liberal.

For a strand of the diaspora, negotiating the everyday onslaughts of marginalization, the saffron turn offered a new basis for identity. This identity, founded on the image of a strong India, was also now palatable for the middle classes in the Indian mainstream. The saffron turn, with its promise of “Make in India” would deliver economic growth, coupled with cultural revitalization. The Indian (read Hindu Indian) would now feel a sense of glory at home and abroad, attaching with brand saffron.

In the past four years, the mainstreaming of saffron has been actively achieved through political and media discourse. It is no longer fringe to want to kill a Muslim or to make a statement about killing Muslims. It is the mainstream narrative of a section of middle class India. Anyone questioning this narrative is labelled an anti-national and sent to Pakistan by the English language channels of Times Now and Republic TV, with a large middle class following.

Five years have come and gone. The empirical evidence attests to many undelivered promises. Much like the empty sloganeering of a “Vibrant Gujarat,” a “Make in India’ re-make of Indian economy remains a mirage.

It is not in this middle and aspiring class that I hold the hope for India.

The possibility of reclaiming India does not lie in my privileged voiced or the voices of experts who see the danger of a fascist politics that threatened to engulf India. We have, for most instances, detached ourselves from the people, from the struggles of the soil, from the hardships that are the everyday reality for the majority of India.

The hope for India lies in the rural, among the urban poor, among the workers, and among the farmers. The hope for India lies in its adivasi and dalit people as they turn their voices of disenfranchisement into votes at the ballot. The hope for India lies in the many farmers who have flooded the capital in protest. The hope for India lies in the many workers who have shown up in seas of red. The hope for India lies in Begusarai as we witness the possibilities of what can be. With one parliamentarian that represents these fundamental ideals enshrined in the constitution.

To reclaim India is to reclaim both the secular and socialist roots of the nation, written into the constitution.

I don’t have much hope in a neoliberal elite that somehow continues to bow to the pseudo-science of the market. I do have hope, however, for the other India that does the everyday work of making it and imagining it.

CARE Op-Ed: The role of communication in addressing Māori health disparities: An appeal for voice by Prof. Mohan Dutta & Dr.Steve Elers

The role of communication in addressing Māori health disparities: An appeal for voice


 

The Māori Affairs Select Committee on Māori health inequalities point to the entrenched disparities in health outcomes for Māori compared to Pākehā, highlighting the importance of examining and understanding the sources of these inequalities.

The sources of inequalities in outcomes in health and wellbeing is also the subject of the hearings of the Waitangi Tribunal, drawing on presentations that point to systemic structural racism that impact the experiences of Māori in the health system.

These inequalities in experiences of and with health and care are communicative, tied to the nature of interactions in health settings and in the various ways in which racism shapes these interactions.

In our research with the culture-centred approach to health and communication, we attend to the question of voice in the realm of unequal health outcomes. We suggest that the erasure of Māori voices in health interactions and in how the health system is constructed is integral to the perpetuation of inequalities.

Our approach therefore invites voices of those at the margins of society, voices that have been historically erased, as anchors for addressing the entrenched health inequalities.

We are honoured to be hosting Tāme Iti of Ngāi Tūhoe as our next activist-in-residence, and we will work with him in understanding this question of voice. His intervention from the Māori proverb “kanohi ki te kanohi” [dealing with it face-to-face] is a powerful solution to the marginalisation of Māori in health systems. Making the spaces for Māori voices to be heard in health systems and in spaces where knowledge is produced is a critical starting point for addressing inequalities in health and wellbeing outcomes.

When such voices from the margins of New Zealand society speak, they are meant to disrupt the unequal structures. The very act of speaking is meant to disrupt because it is only through disruption of powerful structures that erase voice can opportunities for solving inequalities be created.

Because for those in entrenched positions of power, voice is threatening, an invitation to voice is a direct challenge to the organising categories of power.

That within Universities and within mainstream structures of society a certain cross-section feels threatened with the voice of Tāme Iti speaking is a reflection of the communicative inequalities that constitute colonial structures. Under the guise of civility and appropriate conduct, voices that challenge the status quo and its inherently racist logics are strategically and systematically silenced. So for many of the free speech advocates within colonial structures, the right of an indigenous voice to speak can be sacrificed under the pretext of appropriate speech.

It is however in this very space of voice that interventions need to be made if inequalities in outcomes of health and wellbeing are to be addressed.

Professor Mohan Dutta

Director of Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE)

and

Dean’s Chair of Communication, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing

Massey University

 

Dr Steve Elers

Senior Lecturer

School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing

Massey University

The Islamophobia Industry and the Christchurch Terror Attack: A Call to Dismantle Hate

The Islamophobia industry is big business.



 

The shootings carried out by right wing White extremists in Christchurch are part of a global network of racist terror that are often legitimized, sponsored, and reproduced by the structures of the state.

The manifesto crafted by one of the White terrorists who carried out the terror makes reference to the U.S. President Donald Trump and draws on the hate propaganda that is a key element of U.S. public relations.

Islamophobia, the fear of the Muslim, is strategically manufactured through various forms of messages of hatred, legitimized and reproduced by the media, and manipulated by parties toward political gains.

The globalization of the Islamophobia industry

The Islamophobia industry is big business. The New Zealand shootings depict the wide reach of the industry and its global appeal.

From the transnational corporations feeding the “war on terror” to the digital media industries that profit from selling the hatred of Muslims to think tanks that are set up to cultivate strategically the fear of the Muslim, Islamophobia generates ratings, advertising dollars, and new markets for products of hatred.

Although projected as the work of the fringe right, the power of Islamophobia lies in seeding the hatred for Islam as a mainstream phenomenon, as a part and parcel of everyday civil discourse.

Digital platforms such as Swarajya Mag in India, and Centers such as the Center for Security Policy in the U.S. are established with the sole purpose of making mainstream the hatred for Islam through the circulation of the image of the Muslim invader that is antithetical to the ideas of civilization.

Propaganda narratives from U.S. to India

The narrative of the “civilization in threat” is strategically disseminated across spaces to seed and amplify Islamophobia. The manifesto circulated by the White supremacist terrorist in New Zealand is essentially anchored in the rhetoric of “White genocide.”

In the U.S., groups such as ACT for America led by Brigette Gabriel organize communities at the grassroots around the hatred for Islam, manufacturing the threat of the Muslim “other.” Setting up false narratives such as the “threat of Sharia law,” with over 750,000 members across the U.S., the organization positions itself as a national security organization, drawing up accounts of unwed Muslim migrant and refugee men who threaten White civilizational purity. Brigette Gabriel draws out links between the influx of Muslim refugees and the threat of rape, manufacturing the basis for the threat of “White genocide.”

In the White terrorist manifesto in New Zealand, the propaganda of “White genocide” is set up by comparing the fertility rates of White Europeans with fertility rates of communities of colour.

The global seduction of the narrative of Islamic rape culture is well evident in India in the Hindutva propaganda machinery.

The “love jihaad” narrative similarly manufactures a false account of Islamic rape culture, positioning Muslims as threatening the purity of Hindu culture. The narrative of Hindu genocide becomes the basis for manufacturing and circulating the threat of the Islamic invader, then being mobilized by the Hindutva forces in India to carry out systematic acts of violence.

The Zionist propaganda machinery produces the image and narrative of the Muslim other to silence any critique of its settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. A large proportion of the funding of the Islamophobia industry comes from Zionist organizations.

Islamophobic responses in India

The Islamophobia that is rampant in India prompts a cross-section of Hindutva forces to celebrate the attacks on the mosques in Christchurch.

For these Hindutva forces, the attack on the mosques is the appropriate and necessary response to the manufactured thread of Islamic terror.

Heuristically driven and devoid of evidence, these jubilations of the attack on the Muslims entirely miss out that the manifesto called for removing all coloured people (including Indians of all faiths) from what the terrorist articulation framed as White lands (of course ignoring the claims to land in New Zealand held by indigenous Maori). People of colour bear the burden of racisms that generate from White supremacy; Muslims bear this burden as attacks on their ethnicity as well amplified by the demonization of their faith.

The celebration of violence by Hindutva terror, although somewhat different in its framing and targeting of the other from the White supremacist terror, is a replica of White supremacist terror in its strategic deployment of violence to target Muslim minorities. Since 2015, at least 44 Muslims have been killed in India by cow vigilantes, driven by the narrative of civilizational threat.

For a global civilizational response

That terror has no place in civilized societies is the message that ought to form the basis for global response. In her bold and powerful speech following the terrorist attack, the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern issued this clarion call for zero tolerance of hatred by stating that the haters have no place in New Zealand society.

Across the globe, the fabrics of civilized secular societies are threatened by the politics of hate and fear mongering, legitimized through political parties and electoral processes. These political parties that operate on the circulation of hate need to be targeted strategically and their machineries of hate dismantled.

The global machine of Islamophobia ought to be dismantled by a civilizational narrative of love, understanding and dialogue, with the fundamental commitment to fostering spaces for diverse voices, peoples, worldviews and faith traditions.

In India, dismantling the hate apparatuses of the RSS and BJP are the urgent calls of the hour. In civilized societies such as in New Zealand and Singapore, diaspora groups that operate on the circulation of hate have no place. Identifying, categorizing and dismantling such groups is as important as it is to opening up calls for dialogue.

Hate, White supremacist hate and Hindu hate need to be stopped before they consume the discursive spheres of civilized societies.

Mohan J Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University, University of New Zealand. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

Article Source: www.thecitizen.in

Image source: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2019/03/16/jacinda-ardern-christchurch/

The Calls For War!

The attack, production of crisis, and elections

 

The attack on Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14 has turned up the volume on the jingoistic media channels.

Jingoism sells. The images of violence sell in a concerted call for more violence.

The shouting matches on the split Television screens are perfectly orchestrated to call for war, with suited anchors frothing up at the sounds of war. As if to match up the tenor of the emotions at the site of the attack, the decked-up newsrooms buzz with the calls for attack. From the plush studio settings, mediatized images of the broken vehicles and streets littered with debris are organized into a propaganda campaign.

For the middle class digital sphere, the immediate calls to war from the comforts of the living room offer succour to middle class sensibilities of national security.

This is the mechanics of propaganda.

From Operation Iraqi Freedom to the surgical strike, images and sounds feed the war machinery.

In turn, the war machinery manufactures the images and sounds, pumping up adrenaline, drawing even more viewers in to the 24X7 cycles, driving the ratings up in an ever-accelerating pace.

Wars are powerful tools of propaganda. They feed on insecurity, the threat of the “other” materialized through images, talk, and sound, and the gory materiality of violence.

Manufacturing a war organizes entire collectives of citizens as nationalists, projecting on the national imaginary the threat to the nation, brought together with media images of terrorists that need to be targeted through attacks. This threat to the nation is circulated across media screens, capturing the emotions of citizens as war mongers, rallying behind the political elites and only to be satisfied with more gore.

Crises form the bedrock of authoritarian techniques of producing sites of control and managing them to keep power intact. When under threat of losing power, authoritarian regimes create a wide range of strategies to keep power intact. The spectacle of a terror event is the perfect crisis that calls for strong response, propping up the authoritarian strongman as the legitimate and necessary ruler.

Such a response is often produced amid suspended reason. Revenge must be sought, that’s all, and the authoritarian regime is well suited to extract revenge. That the middle classes that quickly demand such revenge never step into the violence of the war zones is part of the mechanics of war. That it is often the poor, enlisted into the police and military to escape poverty, who must place their bodies amid violence, is part of the mechanics of war.

Moreover, the production of war and the circulation of geostrategic threats work well as communicative strategies for generating public support for authoritarian power. Wars often supply the perfect recipe for authoritarian regimes that hold on to power through appeals to emotion. Catalysing the citizen around the nation and national interests works well to distract from questions of economy, inequality, unemployment, and difficulties of everyday life.

The recent attack in Kashmir seemed to have offered the perfect backdrop for the mobilizing of patriotism. Noted Modi, issuing a warning to Pakistan that India will not be divided: “If they (Pakistan) think that the kinds of things they are doing, the conspiracies that they are concocting — that they will be successful in creating instability in India, then they should abandon that dream. They will never be able to do it.”

As television stations capitalize on the ratings-generating stories of the attack, the nation is once again organized around the enemy, with the call to protect national security. Heuristics of the enemy unify national sentiments, captured in smart techniques of producing the other.

Amid crisis, critical questions are suspended. The audience is configured into a homogeneous mass of collective hysteria.

Wars are also the backdrop for attacking the opposition in an election cycle. Building up to the elections, digitally circulating images quickly pick up stories that equate the opposition with the “other” of the nation. The ruling political party becomes the nation, and the nation the party.

Any critique of the jingoism is dangerously painted as anti-national, with large consequences. Any opposition to the regime is painted as the enemy of the nation. Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, and WhatsApp messages quickly circulate these

Consider for instance the photo of Rahul Gandhi, photoshopped with the Pulwama suicide bomber. The post,“भारतीय फौज पर हमला करने बाला नीकला राहुल गांधी का खास। क्या इस हमले के पीछे कांग्रेस का हाथ तो नहीं (The man who attacked the Indian army was close to Rahul Gandhi. Is the Congress behind the attack? -translated)”, made on the Facebook group Once Again MODIRAJ 2019, includes photoshopped images of Rahul Gandhi to suggest that the involvement of the Congress in the attack.

Consider similarly cropped videos of Priyanka Gandhi allegedly laughing after the terror attacks.

These images and stories work strategically to paint an increasingly strong opposition as the enemy. The war is a powerful political machinery, one that will quickly organize national politics around its agenda.

Amid these heightened calls to war, consider the critical questions that call for further reflection and deliberation. What are the places of dialogue amid this violence? What role does violence play in mitigating violence? Situate the police-military deaths in war alongside the deaths of civilians and protesting people in Kashmir. Most importantly, consider the question of sovereignty of the Kashmiri people that forms the backdrop of this violence.

by Mohan Dutta

Source: https://www.thecitizen.in/ind ex.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/16300/The-Calls-For-War

CARE OpEd: When She Spoke to “Ma’am” About Sexual Abuse By “Sir” She Was Deported

Sexual harassment, Domestic Work, and Infrastructures for Voices

Between 2013 and 2018, the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) ran the “Respect our Rights” campaign with foreign domestic workers in Singapore.

The campaign, driven by the voices of domestic workers, designed and carried out by domestic workers with support from our research and production teams at CARE, highlighted the plight of domestic workers within the confines of homes in Singapore. Grounded in the framework of creating infrastructures of communication that the women would own, the project sought to build anchors for addressing threatening workplace practices that poorly affect the health of domestic workers. Through outdoor advertising, television and print ads, mobile events, digital media campaign, documentary film, and a series of white papers drawn from our research conducted with domestic workers, the campaign drew attention to the various facets of exploitation and abuse in domestic work.

A consistent theme that appeared throughout our in-depth interviews and advocacy-based fieldwork was the sexual abuse that domestic workers experience while on work.

In many of these instances of experienced abuse, domestic workers discussed how the nature of domestic work meant that they did not have a place to go to and often did not know whom to speak with when experiencing the abuse.

The four walls of the home silenced the stories of sexual abuse. The tremendous power imbalances between employers and domestic workers and the absence of accessible mechanisms for addressing workplace grievances rendered pathways for communication invisible.

Consider the story of Sarah, a domestic worker who had travelled to Singapore from the Philippines so she could send her children in the Philippines to school.

For many days, she had been experiencing sexual abuse.

Her “Sir” [referring to the male employer in the household] would inappropriately touch her. When this harassment occurred the first time, she did not know how to react. She did not push back immediately because she was afraid that her employer would deport her to the Philippines if she spoke up.

As the incidences of abuse kept occurring, she made herself speak up, and forced her body to fight back, pushing away an unwelcome hand or a forced embrace.

The sexual abuse carried on, with the forms of abuse increasing in frequency and magnitude. As the abuse magnified, so did her sense of feeling unwell. Sarah would often throw up, experience stomach cramps, and breaking into uncontrollable tears at the end of the day when she went to bed.

It was nerve racking to anticipate the sexual abuse, to actually experience it, and then to respond back when it happened. She shared how she stayed up until late at night planning strategies of response, figuring out what she would do when her “Sir” touched her again.

It took Sarah all her energy to gather up her strength and speak about the abuse to her “mam.” Although she felt that her employer would not believe her, she needed to at least try to speak up as she “could not take it anymore.”

When finally Sarah spoke with her “mam,” she was accused of lying, of “making up” things to create trouble. Her “mam” threatened Sarah that she would call the immigration and checkpoint authorities in Singapore and get her deported.

The story of Sarah is also the story of Radha, Nithya, and Carla. Carla also shared a story of her friend who was deported, having been accused of stealing from the employer after having brought up the incidences of sexual abuse to the employer and having asked him to stop.

The tremendous power imbalances at work, the isolated nature of the work, the ambiguities around the norms of work and home in domestic work, and the invisibility of communication structures for voice translate into suffering through the everyday forms of sexual abuse. Domestic work is a case exemplar of precarious work, without policy protections, all the way from wages to working hours to workplace conditions.

Even as our advisory group of domestic workers created a digital space on Facebook for sharing their stories, stories of sexual abuse are often not shared here. The digital space feels insecure and threatening, especially with the threat of being deported looming on the horizon.

These stories voiced by domestic workers in Singapore resonate with stories voiced by domestic workers in India, with experiences of abuse that are often deeply immersed in silence. In our ongoing collaborative fieldwork with domestic workers in India, experiences of sexual abuse are tied to hierarchies of class and caste, perpetuating the silencing of women.

Popular culture depictions of relationships between domestic workers and employers (son of employer) render these forms of sexual abuse as normative, failing to approach domestic work from a framework of workplace policies and protections.

The nature of the workplace in domestic work perpetuates the oppressive and insecure working conditions. What is a place of work for a domestic worker is the home of a family, typically positioned much higher in the social power structure. The absence of workplace policies that govern the home as a workplace means that workplace communication channels are mostly absent and even if structures outside the workplace are indeed available (Ministry of Manpower in Singapore), the women don’t know how to access these structures.

While advocacy campaigns such as the “Respect our Rights” campaign push for better workplace policies for domestic workers, for domestic workers to have a voice, opportunities for collective bargaining are fundamental. The International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasizes that it is important for domestic workers to “first be recognized as workers in the labour law, to enjoy fully the right to organize and collective bargaining, and to be registered trade unions.”

In countries such as Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and South Africa, domestic workers are unionized in large numbers. Closer, in Hong Kong, domestic workers organize by nationality, and then come together under the Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU). These union frameworks are integral to domestic workers having a voice and through their voice, transforming the workplace conditions that threaten their health and wellbeing.

The #MeToo campaign across India has drawn attention to the nature of sexual abuse in workplaces. In the confines of homes as workplaces, domestic workers often face a wide array of sexual abuse which are normalized into the cultural fabric that organizes home spaces. It is time Indians turned to the sexual abuse of domestic workers that is written into the cultural fabric and is simultaneously erased.

by : MOHAN DUTTA & SATVEER KAUR | 11 OCTOBER, 2018

The Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) carries out advocacy projects through collaborations with workers in precarious working conditions across the globe. Mohan J. Dutta is the Director of CARE and Satveer Kaur, Lecturer in the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Center, serves as a researcher on the project. The latest manuscript highlighting the struggles of precarity of unskilled migrant work in Singapore is published in the International Journal of Communication.

Article Source: https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/7/15226/When-She-Spoke-to-Maam-About-Sexual-Abuse-By-Sir-She-Was-Deported

Image source: http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/srn/archives/53554

CARE OpEd: The National Register of Citizens And The Politics of Exclusion and Hate

BJP propaganda driven by deportation of “illegal” Muslim immigrants

Rendering four million people, almost all Bengalis and largely Muslim, stateless, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has given a state-driven political face to the ongoing attacks on minorities across India.

The NRC, a list of people that can prove they came to the state on or before March 24, 1971, the day Bangladesh secured independence, is an extension of the broader climate of hatred and fear of the “other” stoked by the Hindutva forces across India.

The erasure of citizens from the NRC serves as the fundamental basis for their erasure from the right to land, right to vote, and freedom. Without access to structures of justice, the four million citizens rendered stateless are also rendered vulnerable to a broader climate of violence where lynchings and murders of minorities have become the norm. The normalization of hate goes hand-in-hand with the normalization of the exclusion of minorities.

The propaganda around the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant has been systematically catalysed across Assam to create the grounds for the politics of exclusion. The image of the Muslim infiltrator from Bangladesh is circulated through media images and everyday discourses, with the threat of the “other” infiltrating and colonizing state-driven resources.

The campaign of hate carried out by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been driven by the narrative that the illegal Muslim immigrants will be deported. This targeting of illegal Muslim immigrants is juxtaposed in the backdrop of the Hindutva agenda of the BJP, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his preference for Hindu Bangladeshi migrants and the BJP considering the introduction of a bill that would offer legal rights to Hindu migrants. The stage for this politics of exclusion had been set much earlier with the Assam accord that gave legitimacy to the xenophobic response to the “other.”

To draw from Hannah Arendt, citizenship acts as the basis for the “right to have rights.” Fascist regimes driven by hate therefore specifically work on the mechanisms of erasing citizenship of minority communities, then turning these stateless bodies into sites of violence. Once these communities can be marked as the other of the state, their access to fundamental resources of livelihood are erased and they are subjected to various forms of state-driven oppressions.

Stateless people are often the targets of a wide range of societal violence, often without access to juridical structures and processes. Integral to the large-scale deployment of violence is the marking of the other as without citizenship rights, and therefore, without the right to be counted.

Moreover, the precarity of the largely poor Bengali Muslim communities working under conditions of exploitation over generations is further rendered vulnerable in conditions of statelessness. The symbolic marking of the other as without citizenship is intrinsically tied to the material exploitation of the other and the systematic perpetuation of oppression. Even as the NRC offers a framework for appealing the exclusion, the complexity of the legal processes of appeal make it particularly difficult for the margins to access. The NRC as a framework therefore disproportionately targets poor minorities who have over generations formed the backbone of the economy.

The sham of the NRC process in Assam being a secular process starts falling apart when interrogated for the logic for the organizing of the NRC. That the NRC is established on the fear of the illegal Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant disrupts any claim to secularism underlying the NRC.

The deployment of citizenship as a category for marking the “other” catalysed by the Hindutva forces follows the nation-wide top-down implementation of the Aadhaar card as a tool for identifying citizenship, evaluating eligibility to state provisions, and allocating resources. The seduction of technology works alongside a fascist framework for marking the other of the state and differentiating this other from the citizen, working in complementary ways to achieve the Hindutva agenda.

The limits of the technology and its techniques, its failures in implementation are however left out of the seductive appeal of the solution to governance. That many individuals who have not been named on the list have lived in or have ancestors living in Assam from before 1971 needs to be foregrounded, pointing to the limits of the techniques of marking and identifying. As an instrument of governance then, the effectiveness and efficiency of the NRC ought to be interrogated from within its internal logics.

Beyond questioning the techniques of marking citizens however, the very basis of the Assam accord needs to be critically interrogated. The idea that citizenship can be reproduced as a category to exclude and to legitimize violence needs to be examined. The arbitrary marking of 1971 as the year for determining who is a citizen and who is not needs to be brought under scrutiny.

The recognition of the very complexity of the ethnic composition of Assam amid histories of movements and migrations across West Bengal, Bangladesh and Assam offers a framework for understanding the complicated nature of the citizenship question. Closely interrogating the very basis for how citizenship is determined, by whom, and under what power configurations offers new ways for thinking through the politics of belonging, and for organizing in strategies of resistance.

The NRC that renders 4 million Indians stateless shares in its framework the politics of hate that is evident in the deportations in the US organized by Donald Trump, in the treatment of Rohingya refugees across Asia, and in the treatment of refugees across large parts of Europe.

The deployment of hate as an instrument for organizing citizenship is dialectically related to the marking of the “other” of the state, the outside that must be targeted as a site of violence to mobilize affect and to continually create bodies for labour extraction without rights. The fascist politics of hate that underlies the rise of the politics of exclusion is a global phenomenon, which simultaneously releases large numbers of stateless bodies into the global flows of capital, labour, and precarity without access to structures for voicing rights.

Critically situating the politics of hate organized by the NRC in relationship with the global logics of hate as tools of exclusion from the state, from Myanmar to the US offers opportunities for considering the ways in which this politics of hate ought to be resisted locally, nationally, and globally.

Recognition of the interplays of neoliberalism and the fascist politics of exclusion offers a basis for transformative politics that undoes the normative ideas of citizenship. Resistance to the politics of exclusion ought to begin with interrogating the very idea of the citizen: who is the citizen and who is not, and the ways in which this relates to the global reproduction of precarity.

Finally, the politics of exclusion being mobilized by the NRC in Assam creates a moral opportunity for the neighbouring states to create a politics of inclusion by offering refuge to those rendered stateless, and doing so through the framework of rights.

It also creates an opportunity for progressive politics in India to open up altogether new possibilities for imagining a politics of belonging through acts of resistance that disrupt the very idea of citizenship, connecting the citizenship question to the question of capital.

(Mohan J. Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) in the School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing at Massey University).