All Academic, Inc. Research Logo

Info/CitationFAQResearchAll Academic Inc.
Document

El-Ghorba: A Media Ethnography of Transnationalism among Arab Immigrant Families in Canada
Unformatted Document Text:  felt but not understood the pervasive role television plays as a medium in their daily interactions and in their articulate of self and identity. The lingering discrepancies in cultural understanding between family members, similar to those of Zeinab and Omar, had a mediated component that I wanted to learn more about. The questions that were most pressing were ones that dealt with the community member’s sense of individual identity as either Arabs or Muslims. How do these new migrant families perceive their Canadian identity, if at all? How do they construct and context their “Arab-ness”? Does one identity displace the other? How do various media play into their cultural adaptation? What role does Arabic satellite television play in this dynamic? What identity-driven motivations made them connect this service? Before any of these questions could be answered there was a realization that these dynamic are best expressed and articulate, therefore best researched, within the context of the family environment. The medium is most often situation both spatially and cognitively within the realm of the family’s sphere. Therefore, the only way I could get a firsthand look at the dynamic processes at play between the family and the medium to assess the effect of each on the other was by entering the household quarters. The theoretical approaches that seemed to explain some of the processes occurring in these households related to two major themes. The first was the notion of transnationalism which has become a more versatile means of describing identities at flux. Unlike immigration in the past, where in time families needed to (were forced to) relinquish their relationships in their homelands to be able to compete in their new homes, migrant communities’ connection to home are now assisted by ease of travel and a globalized media system that bring home right into their living rooms. Transnationalism here should be read as the ability to sustain strong connections with various spatial identity loci that transcend national boundaries. The second theoretical argument I had to wrestle with emerges out of mass communication literature which looks at media effects on audiences. The primary and presupposed contention behind this research is the idea of the active audience. I do indeed recognize these families as agents who themselves construct, deconstruct and reconstruct what they see in the media that surrounds them, in each case making a choice of what is appropriate for them and which is not. This approach negates many of the established mass communication theories that suppose that the audience passively integrates what emerges from the medium without judgment. Many of these same theories also fall short of recognizing both the ritualistic and collectivistic nature of media consumption. Problematizing transnationalism Interpretive and narrativistic research arising from communication, anthropology, and literary criticism have started to embrace more functional definitions of the cultural contestations created by global media. The emergence of the concept of transnationalism, which views culture not as a stagnant entity with nascent beginnings and a demarcated finitude, but as a ceaseless process of change and continual redefinition, is emblematic of this conceptual departure. Ien Ang (1990) contends that a negotiated dialogue between alien cultural values and the pleasure that a particular ‘media text’ provides is the primary process in the assimilation of cultural norms into the ‘hybrid’. The investigative notions of cultural ‘hybridity’, ‘cultural multiplicity’, or ‘creolization’, which have emerged out of this view

Authors: Iskandar Farag, Adel.
first   previous   Page 5 of 19   next   last



background image
felt but not understood the pervasive role television plays as a medium in their daily interactions
and in their articulate of self and identity. The lingering discrepancies in cultural understanding
between family members, similar to those of Zeinab and Omar, had a mediated component that I
wanted to learn more about.
The questions that were most pressing were ones that dealt with the community
member’s sense of individual identity as either Arabs or Muslims. How do these new migrant
families perceive their Canadian identity, if at all? How do they construct and context their
“Arab-ness”? Does one identity displace the other? How do various media play into their cultural
adaptation? What role does Arabic satellite television play in this dynamic? What identity-driven
motivations made them connect this service?
Before any of these questions could be answered there was a realization that these
dynamic are best expressed and articulate, therefore best researched, within the context of the
family environment. The medium is most often situation both spatially and cognitively within the
realm of the family’s sphere. Therefore, the only way I could get a firsthand look at the dynamic
processes at play between the family and the medium to assess the effect of each on the other
was by entering the household quarters.
The theoretical approaches that seemed to explain some of the processes occurring in
these households related to two major themes. The first was the notion of transnationalism which
has become a more versatile means of describing identities at flux. Unlike immigration in the
past, where in time families needed to (were forced to) relinquish their relationships in their
homelands to be able to compete in their new homes, migrant communities’ connection to home
are now assisted by ease of travel and a globalized media system that bring home right into their
living rooms. Transnationalism here should be read as the ability to sustain strong connections
with various spatial identity loci that transcend national boundaries.
The second theoretical argument I had to wrestle with emerges out of mass
communication literature which looks at media effects on audiences. The primary and
presupposed contention behind this research is the idea of the active audience. I do indeed
recognize these families as agents who themselves construct, deconstruct and reconstruct what
they see in the media that surrounds them, in each case making a choice of what is appropriate
for them and which is not. This approach negates many of the established mass communication
theories that suppose that the audience passively integrates what emerges from the medium
without judgment. Many of these same theories also fall short of recognizing both the ritualistic
and collectivistic nature of media consumption.

Problematizing transnationalism

Interpretive and narrativistic research arising from communication, anthropology, and
literary criticism have started to embrace more functional definitions of the cultural contestations
created by global media. The emergence of the concept of transnationalism, which views culture
not as a stagnant entity with nascent beginnings and a demarcated finitude, but as a ceaseless
process of change and continual redefinition, is emblematic of this conceptual departure. Ien Ang
(1990) contends that a negotiated dialogue between alien cultural values and the pleasure that a
particular ‘media text’ provides is the primary process in the assimilation of cultural norms into
the ‘hybrid’. The investigative notions of cultural ‘hybridity’, ‘cultural multiplicity’, or
‘creolization’, which have emerged out of this view


Convention
Submission, Review, and Scheduling! All Academic Convention can help with all of your abstract management needs and many more. Contact us today for a quote!
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.
Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!
Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!
Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

first   previous   Page 5 of 19   next   last

©2012 All Academic, Inc.