Monday, September 14, 2009

Diasporas and Elections

Karim's article on the role of a diaspora in international communication and the importance of this discussion in our field was incredibly interesting. In analyzing the communication structures in a diaspora, he touched on the importance of symbols in re-creating a sense of home. I experienced this myself while living in Germany: while my apartment building clearly existed within German borders, we often joked that when you crossed through the apartment door you were in America. This feeling wasn't because of the furniture (all German), the architecture (German, too) but rather in the areas Karim discussed: "languages, customs, art forms, arrangements of objects, and ideas." Further, when the presidential inauguration fell during a trip to Hamburg, one of our travel-mates begged to be sure the hotel broadcast was from CNN - NOT BBC. It was important to her that the commentary (however minimal) be from an "American" angle. (However authentically "American" that might have been is up for debate, as Waisbord reveals when pointing out the various international partners that work together in creating "national" media outlets. However, he does offer inaugurations as an example of something that "coordinates the life of a nation" and an event that "...put(s) the nation on a center stage (to) show cultural coordination at work.")

The American presidential inauguration example also came to mind in Cassells' article. In analyzing the globalization of issues, the existence of t-shirts that proclaimed "Germans for Obama" being worn by non-voters made more sense. Beyond acknowledging the general international interest in this election, Cassells' article made me consider which issues the international audience was considering when contemplating the U.S. presidential election. Many of the commonly discussed issues fell into the global category, specifically those Castell highlighted - management of the environment, human rights, social justice, and global security. As he discussed, the gap between where these issues arise and where they are managed is both growing and ambiguous, and the role of the global civil society and network state in addressing these issues is a fascinating developing topic. While a leader may represent one nation, there is an increasing expectation that global issues will be addressed. The question is, will it be politicians or "network-states" that solve these issues?

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