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Willard Uncapher		  somewhat autonomous section of a larger work.
copyright (c) 1992, 1994          not for publication without prior approval.
University of Texas at Austin     draft, eh? and it has not been published.	  the electronic version loses formatting.

                       Between Local and Global:
        Placing the Mediascape in the Transnational Cultural Flow

	The ongoing integration of media systems world wide provides an
essential component to the emerging disciplines and theories of
globalization.  And yet a persistent and institutionalized theorizing of
media systems into either 'mass' or 'interpersonal' realms continues to
obscure many of the complex, even revolutionary changes presently
occurring at intermediate levels. These traditional approaches continue to
solve the kinds of questions they were designed to solve, but seem to
leave their practitioners with the profound sense that something of this
'mediascape' is being left unremarked and under-theorized.  If that is so,
then where and how might we begin to develop more midrange theories and
investigations, investigations that allow us to shift our foci from, on
the one hand large scale considerations of the impact of the integration
of media systems on cultural identity, economic and cultural power and
influences, or on the other hand highly specific instances of local
resistance, empowerment, or creativity issuing out from a changing media
environment?  In the following essay, I intend to suggest that this global
mediascape, a notion which will be examined more closely shortly, needs to
be refracted into three further dimensions: a 'grassroots,' practice
oriented, more interpersonal realm; a public sphere of collective debate
and collective action; and a transnational, deterritorialized, global
realm.  I will argue that each of these levels should be conceived in a
quasi-independence from each other, characterizable by relatively
distinctive media use.  While each level might be seen as independent,
disjunctive from one another, involved in their own pursuit of identity
and coherent practice, unpredicted by the happenings of another level,
unable to be summarized into a single, cohesive 'infrastructure,' they
each act as restraints, parameters, and motivating forces on one another.
In order to clarify this complex relationship, I will conclude by
examining the case of video cassette recorders and tapes more closely.

			The Space of Global Culture

	It is hard to say when this 'globalization' really began.  Earlier
histories and outlooks on global society, drawing undoubtedly on the
tradition of Herbert Spenser (who in turn influences Marx, Toynbee, etc.)
still sought to gather together the individual histories of different
'societies,' 'cultures' and 'civilizations,' variously located somewhere on
the earth, and then sought to suggest universal proposals about them.
'Societies either rise to a challenge or they will be overwhelmed'
(Toynbee). While evidence of long distant trade, epidemiological
connections, as well as the diffusion of cultural motifs, technological
approaches, and social practices appeared at the margins of these unitary
concepts of nationality, society, and civilization, there was still little
evidence of what a global economy, whether of materials or culture might
mean or consist.

	Beneath the terms, images, practices, and motifs of the nation,
culture, and society, were people who were actively engaged in using these
and other motifs to define who they were, what they were to become, and the
nature and identity of those and their environment around them.  More recent
investigations into the concept of the nation-state, of that boundary
oriented, spatially extended, culturally uniform, self-organized and
organizing society relate it to the rise of print-capitalism, for example
(Anderson 1991).  Nations come to be organized explicitly around shared
'imagined communities' and implicitly in terms of patterns of production and
reproduction. Other writers have more recently begun to question even our
concepts of 'culture' as something 'over there' that can be studied, such as
in terms of an integral, self-sustaining functionality (Wagner 1981). Put
another way, culture, conceived as something that brings people together, as
what they can share, can be seen as the way people make sense of diversity,
how they imagine and explain and handle the discontinuities between one
generation and the next, between one society and another, between one way of
being and another (cf. Ward Goodenough 1978; Theodore Schwartz 1978).
Cultures bounded these difference with the icons and language of continuity,
and made use of media systems and their meaning to accomplish that sleight
of mind (cf. Bateson 1975).

	To what extent can we ground these slippages between generations,
between people, between meanings in a place, a neighborhood, a space?  A
number of prominent social geographers in particular, have even suggested
that our sense of place is not only itself constructed (Gupta and Ferguson
1992; Rodman 1992), related to the kinds of question we ask that involve
space, but is deeply related to our uses of media.  As we change and add to
our media, so we extend and transform the space of our interaction, and the
identities and meanings of the people who use those spaces.  The influential
geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan has been recently arguing, for example, that we need
to include speech and writing to both place-making and geographical inquiry
(Tuan 1991:695).

	These emerging lines of inquiry must provoke us to the realization
that whatever the global mediascape might mean, it is deeply related to what
I would call the politics of identity and difference.  The notion of the
mediascape, formulated by Prof. Arjun Appadurai, along with the notions of
the ethnoscape, the technoscape, the finanscape, and the ideoscape were
developed to help to summarize a developing feature of the global cultural

	Mediascapes refer both to the distribution of the electronic
  capabilities to produce and disseminate information (newspapers, magazines,
  television stations and film production studios), which are now available to
  a growing number of private and public interest throughout the world, and to
  the images of the world created by these media.  These images of the world
  involve many complicated inflections, depending on their mode (documentary
  or entertainment); their hardware (electronic or pre-electronic) their
  audiences (local, national or transnational) and the interests of those who
  own and control them.  What is most important about these mediascapes is
  that they provide (especially in their television film and cassette forms)
  large and complex repertoires of images, narratives and ethnoscapes to
  viewers throughout the world, in which the world of commodities and the
  world of news and politics are profoundly mixed.  What this means is that
  many audiences throughout the world experiences themselves as a complicated
  and interconnected repertoire of print, celluloid, electronic screens and
  billboards.  (Appadurai 1990:9)

In terms of the politics of identity and difference, media scholars might
emphasize that the communities and identities which media help establish
need not be simply 'face-to-face' communities.  Communities are being
brought into being which are completely dependent on mediation (such as in
virtual communities on computer networks).  Older groups and communities are
being reformulated because the media on which they depend are changing,
whether this is on an 'interpersonal' level, or at more complex levels.
Joshua Meyrowitz has given some thought to the fact that communities are in
fact created not just by sharing of intimate information, but by exclusion,
by setting rules and guidelines on who and why initiation into the group
might occur.  With the introduction of audience insensitive media like
television, cultures which depended on the exclusion of designated groups,
whether children, people of another political party or school suddenly find
them huddled in front of scenes of what had previously been excluded
material.  Meyrowitz reminds us that the very identification of many of
these groups was established precisely by the patterned access to
information (1985).

	Appadurai's ethnoscape, refers to the movement of people throughout
the world, whether as guest workers, migrants, tourists, etc.  Put in a
global perspective along with the notion of the mediascape, we become
acutely aware of the increasing presence of translocal communities, of
groups of people who are bound not by some kind of spatial proximity, but by
some form of shared, although mediated culture.  As part of the global
Diaspora of workers and migrants, Indian immigrants in Houston are quite
often discerning selectors of imported videotapes of Hindi cinema.  These
video tapes become not only part of the 'link' between themselves and their
purported 'homeland,' they become elements out of which new cultures are
created, ways of creating a shared, diasporic culture in Houston, ways of
exercising and defining one's sense of taste, of aesthetic worth, and of
self-worth, ways of defining what the homeland was all about, and why it

	In saying that this emerging global mediascape can disrupt old
identities and create new translocal ones, we both say too much and not
enough.  If we too quickly follow Appadurai in essentializing these images
of Madonna and Mickey Mouse, of McDonald's and the IBM logo as discrete
flotsam in the global cultural flow, we can lose sight of the fact that as
carriers of meaning, the meaning of these 'images' can very widely from one
place to another, and that they can, in fact be used as part of more
traditional practices, such as in the Mickey Mouse kachina dolls wryly found
among the Hopi native americans, or the bottlecaps found in African
effigies, or in the hand made African suitcase made out of important tin

	My first point about the mediascape is that we should be careful
that we know how we are locating the practices and devices necessary to
decipher or impart meanings.  Places and images come into being not just
through narratives but through praxis, through the leading of the eye,
through the finding of a job, the pragmatic and situated making of a
meaning.  The current debate on the extent to which globalization implies
cultural homogenization or indigenization, the placing of 'new' objects and
practices within the pre-existing patterns of the meaning construction
demands that we discover how these objects are used.  In a similar fashion,
literacy is increasingly being understood not as a way of discovering the
intrinsic meaning within books, but as something one does *with* books.
Presumably, there can then be different kinds of literacies associated with
the same book.  So the mediascape can be seen as a fund of materials out of
which different continuities and change can be formulated and acted out.

	But how then does this relate to the politics of identity? The next
point about the mediascape that we need to consider is the importance of
scale.  Powerful though this mediascape designation and its description is,
and influential as it is bound to be, it still needs considerably more
detail, some of which will undoubtedly be forthcoming in Prof. Appadurai's
own Imploding Worlds.  It is one thing to say that we can draw whatever
meanings we might want from media products, production and practices that
might find their way to the video shelf of our local Hindi grocer, quite
another to be in a situation to actually *make* that video, to distribute,
or to decide that this video has cultural consequences that we both
important enough and ambiguous enough to suggest that it might be taught in
school!  Consider the flow of Arabic language products into Western Europe.
Once this was primarily the province of audio and video tapes, books,
newspapers, letters, people and their stories, telephone conversations, and
so on.  Recently, however, one new means has been via the London based, but
Saudi financed Middle East Broadcasting Center's (MBC) satellite whose
footprint extends across Western Europe.  More than just a more efficient
means of distributing Arabic language entertainment materials, MBC service
which was launched in September, 1991 seeks to be a bridge between the Arab
world and Europe which would allow "Arabic speaking people to keep in touch
with their own culture and traditions." (Kennedy 1992:41)

	What is problematical about this exercise is not where the funding
for this satellite came from, but the kinds of identities and genres it
promotes.  In particular, what does it mean to be Arab?  What does it mean
to be an Arab in Europe who originally came from perhaps Yemen, and not
Lebanon, or who, while speaking Arabic, as in the case of the Iranians, is
primarily of Indo-European extraction and usually speaking an Indo-European
language (Farsi)?  Whose politics or morality are presented?  Said a
Palestinian about this Arabic 'sky-channel,' "It's [MBC] being run by the
Saudis... It has to be in mind that the MBC channel just may be another
picture of Saudi's in England."  And as evidence, Kennedy notes that this
Palestinian drew her attention to MBC broadcast films that had cut out
romantic or bedroom scenes.  "To Khaled [a pseudonym for this Palestinian]
this policy narrows the difference between MBC's role in broadcasting
popular culture in and the role of ordinary state-run television in the
middle east"  (Kennedy 1992:42).

	This last statement needs to be considered more closely.  In
examining the role of capital in the production, distribution, and even in
the understanding and framing of media products, we draw closer to the
topography within the 'mediascape' which will have to more than a blank
space between production and reception.  It will have its peaks where the
movement of products and skill are slower and prominent, and valleys, where,
hidden among the flights of birds, movement is swift but minor, touching
only a few people at a time.  With a dualistic equation like this, with high
capital input assumed to make the kind of products necessary to reach a
large audience (the peaks) and lower amounts of capital needed for limited
grassroots distribution networks (the valleys), one can imagine the
hegemonic potency that the peaks might have in presenting the best produced,
best funded programs with the best equipment.

Edward Said, the true defining horizon of our concepts of otherness and
difference are still the facts of empire, of the traditions and realities of
exploitation within exploitation.  Consider the case of the Irish poet
William Butler Yeats. Said points out that while Yeats might be considered
in the context of high modernism, complexly, he need also be considered
Irish as well.  "Nevertheless, and despite Yeats' obvious and, I would say,
settled presence in Ireland, in British culture and literature, and in
European modernism,, he does present another fascinating aspect: that of the
indisputably great national poet who articulates the experiences, the
aspirations, and the vision of a people suffering under the dominion of an
offshore power." (Said 1990:69)  Why if Yeats was one of the founders of the
Gaelic revival did he himself not try to write in Gaelic?  Clearly there can
be no simple answer to an artist's choice, but we need to consider the power
of a 'core' language, that of English, through which Yeats could not only
reach the audience he presumably desired, and we need to consider the
complex accommodating nature of the English language itself that has taken
into its fold the artistry of some many non-native or partially native

	Even as the MBC sky channel seeks to be 'Arab,' it also seeks to be
as 'professional' as possible, and this includes state of the art editing
and production equipment; the news is read off of autocue in a fast paced
format with graphics, often by anchorwomen who do not cover their hair
(which receives viewer criticism from traditionalists). And even as the
Arabs might have their own satellites for their own cultural business, are
these broadcasters simply unwitting cultural proxies, new stopping points
from the center to the cultural periphery?  This core/periphery perspective,
developed particularly by Wallerstein has for some time provided the most
widely used framework for assessing the asymmetric dynamics of
globalization, and hence of the dynamics of global media flow.  As Ulf
Hannerz has recently summarized the situation:

	Until the 1960s or so, acknowledgments of the fact that "we
  are all in the same world" were mostly pieties, with uncertain political
  and intellectual implications.  Since then, in the social sciences,
  understandings of globalization have usually involved a view of asymmetry;
  key conceptual pairs have been center (or core) and periphery, metropolis
  and satellite.  Asymmetries are present in the global social organization
  of meaning as well.  But what kind of asymmetries are they?  How closely
  aligned are the asymmetries of culture with those of economy, politics, or
  military might. (Hannerz 1992:218-219)

Given the dualistic assumptions about this kind of theoretical framework,
similarly stark research outlooks and policy formulations almost inevitably
follow: just how powerful this core might be, and what steps should be taken
to address these imbalances:  Will the extension of global economic
practices place a McDonald's hamburger franchise in most every major city in
the world?  What factors will encourage or discourage this, and what roles
might policy makers take?

	The answer is ambiguous.  For one thing culture, as we noted above,
can be considered as itself a product of these hybrid realities, of
'mismatched' relations between generations, between friends, between life
and nature, between reality and expectations, and one that elicits
strategies to tame these fissures and slippages (changing identities of
things, changing the question, etc.).  There is something deeply flawed
about the notion of cultural homogeneity, where an image metonymically is
seen to stand in the place of all the practices that make us the different
people who we are (cf. Murphy 1971 who explores culture as an attempt to
make sense of contradiction).  As more and more research has gone into
looking at identity not in terms of a pure self-same being but in terms of
process, there has been a consequent gain in sensitivity to identity,
including ethnicity as part of an ongoing process of exclusion and situating
of things and concepts.  In a seminal anthology on ethnicity, Barth drew
together a number of field research accounts which examined how ethnic
self-identity has changed over history, how ethnicity adjusts to the
presence of other ethnic groups, how difficult it can be to maintain
identifying boundaries, and what happens over time when a stigma is attached
to ethnicity" (Barth 1969).

	The cultural problem is that ethnicity and other similar concepts of
tradition will hide from themselves the process of solving these
contradictions and problems by positing an ideal past.  This is as they
must, since the very concepts are created to do away with the heterogeneity
of origins and identity.  "That today's Vietnamese proudly defend a Viet Nam
scornfully invented by a nineteenth-century Manchu dynasty reminds us of
Renan's dictum that nations must have 'oublie bien des choses,; but also of
the imaginative power of nationalism."  (Anderson 1991:158; c.f. Hobsbaum
and Ranger 1983).  And where is so much of the material for this identity
coming from, and being negotiated out of, but from the mediascape.  With
changes in the mix and nature of media we should in turn expect to see
changes in the role and nature of the nation, and in the collective public
sphere.  This is a realm which will try to have common language(s), and
common ideals.  As Anderson speculates, "But, in this late twentieth
century, it is not necessarily the case that the emergence of such a
generation [of speakers of Mozambique-Portuguese] is a sine qua non for
Mozambiquian national solidarity.  In the first place, advances in
communications technology, especially radio and television, give print
allies unavailable a century ago.  Multilingual broadcasting can conjure up
the imagined community to illiterates and populations with different mother
tongues" (Anderson 1991:134-135).

	The asymmetries in the availability of production equipment,
distribution networks, theatrical venues seem to favor some producers over
other, bringing to mind analogies to colonialism, in this case cultural
colonialism (cf. Schiller 1992).  Who controls the resources of the
mediascape, whether monetary or symbolic?  Speaking to the question of
postmodern space, Edward Soja, recalling the work of Lefebvre and elements
of Foucault, reminds us that space is one of the necessary conditions of
power (Soja 1989; Lefebvre 1991, Foucault 1982).  Power exists between what
does not easily interact, what does not have an easy interface, where
assertion and control of resources (including violence).  It exists because
of strategic discontinuities between communities.  Some regions (of the
world, of a 'community') are more advanced, perhaps make use of more
resources.  Collective action, finding a space where this collectivity can
operate translates to power, and being able to generate this kind of spatial
cohesiveness, through media, with the power of symbol and tradition yields
power.  One man might overpower of  woman, but a collection of women can
overpower any man.  Similarly the economy might be seen as a network of the
constrained flow of objects of/that resist desire (cf. Hannerz 1992, Ch.4;
Appadurai 1986; cf. Hyde 1983), where transfers and exchanges are made
according to uneven distribution of wealth and production (and this wealth
might be symbolic or informational).  The economy too exists in a kind of
space, where markets, gift fests, and thievery, exist at the interstices,
and where producers can not know the full consequence of their production to
the overall economy of differences.  To opt out of the pattern of power, or
more accurately, to seek to find places to reconfigure relationships within
it, leads to the founding of new kinds of communities whose position slips
too often to be easily configured, whose space is fractally excavated in the
pleasant landscapes of rules and powers.  Some might speak of these liminal
communities as temporary autonomous zones or enclaves (Bey 1985; Sakolsky
1993), where communities appear at the boundaries of official society,
indulging in experimentation, until they are found out, and
reterritoralized, becoming the new extension of the space of official

	With the accelerated development of media, communities are
increasingly being forms that do not need to be answerable to their
geophysical neighbors.  Third world countries can exist within first world
superpowers, ready to be exploited and for their own cultural elaboration.
And lest we think that this third world within a first world is complete, so
a first world might be developed within some interstice of the first world.
A neighborhood in Philadelphia or New York City might have the health
statistics that are very similar to that of Bangla Desh.  An office building
near 125th street in Harlem might have first world health statistics.  This
is the geography of under/development.  In a world of resistance to
centralized power, yet of an increasing number of disjunctive, often
homogenizing global cultural flows, there is need to conceptualize better
just what the role of the media might be.

		A Global Grassroots Infrastructure

	Should we not look to how even in local domains, global messages,
practices, and products are indigenized, put to use in ways which grow out
of the history of local, situated practices and meanings (Hannerz 1992; Iyer
1988 as a narrative account)? Consider again Khaled's reaction again: "To
Khaled [a pseudonym for this Palestinian] this policy narrows the difference
between MBC's role in broadcasting popular culture in and the role of
ordinary state-run television in the middle east."  What is the nature of
state-run television, and how is it being reproduced in the sky channel?
The essay will next argue that to describe the topography of the mediascape,
we need to go beyond dualistic juxtapositions.  Dualistic phrasing is itself
part of the project of identity, whether us and them, high and low: it seeks
to essentialize, to render some things as outside, others as inside, and to
take advantage of the rhetorical power that dualism engenders (cf. Uncapher
1993).  I will propose that minimally we further refract the politics of
identity and difference in the mediascape into the terms of the 1)
grassroots, interpersonal dimension; 2) the dimension of the public sphere,
dominated by the powers of the state; and 3) the dimension of the
transnational corporations.  If these levels seem almost too conventional,
still I believe that they can quickly be used to indicate new research
directions into the nature and consequences of changes of the mediascape,
especially in shedding light on issues of not only the more general politics
of identity, but of specific issues of fundamentalism and nationalism.
While each of these 'levels' will be characterized in terms of relatively
distinctive media uses and constraints, we need also to consider that one of
the most important differences might be that of scale.

	The notions of scale and the interrelated issue of the nature of
complexity have quietly been emerging as key topics in wide range of
theoretical studies recently, (e.g. Schwartz 1978b; Barth 1978; Allen &
Starr 1982; Higashi & Burns 1991), especially with the realization that
observation is scale dependent, and that scale is intimately related to
theoretical questions of hierarchy and the organization of diversity.  The
'identity' of an object depends on the scale by which it is observed. For
example, seen through the microscope, the human body is a collection of
organisms; seen by the naked eye, it is a corporal unity; seen from a
distant point, it is part of a complex system of cultural and material
exchange and movement.  At one level of observation, skin is a boundary; at
another level of observation, is a porous gate between worlds.  None of
these observations negate the other.  Nor are the different scales
independent of one another either!  Even as high levels of organization
serve to constrain lower levels (that's what makes them 'higher'), still
perturbations on a lower level can radically influence or disrupt higher
levels, especially when there is some kind of systematic change.  I suggest
that this notion of the relationship of scale and observation is very
important to the understanding and research done in connection with the

	I further suggest that each of these scales of observation of the
mediascape can be characterized by relatively distinctive media use,
although I certainly am not arguing that the spirit of the technology
somehow mysteriously 'causes' social and cultural changes.  The grassroots
level of production and exchange is more personalized, with knowledge,
identity, and material products being exchanged in the context of
interpersonal power and trust.  It is at this level that we might find the
production or movement of videotapes of political messages or weddings,
audio tapes of bands, small circulation newspapers and telephone
conversations.  It is of a scale making it marginal even to the public

	I should note, however, that the very existence of this level is
facilitated by the exchange of media products and contents.  Video tapes,
for example, circulate not just to satisfy personal interests, but also
because their acquisition and exchange serves to situate people in relation
to one another.  "Broadcasting and VCRs seem ideally suited to the Arab
world because Arab culture fosters extremely strong family ties;
entertainment is group oriented; electronic gadgets are status symbols;
leisure time is abundant; and media receiver hardware is shared" (Boyd,
Straubhaar, & Lent 1989:49)  That is, part of the importance of this level
is not simply that individuals will consume 'significant' or 'entertaining'
or 'useful' products, their consumption will help to facilitate interactions
between people.  Consuming certain media products and ideas is part of what
people have in common on an interpersonal level, and media consumption, and
the acquisition of its skills of interpretation brings people together as

	Following suggestions of Habermas (1989(1962), I envision this
domain of the public sphere as that 'visible' common involving
institutionalized arena of discursive interaction, where purportedly private
interests become public.  It is at this level that the terms of group
identity, responsibilities, and exigencies are forged and negotiated.  Carol
Breckenridge and Arjun Appadurai, in the opening pages of their journal,
Public Culture, speak of the public sphere as "a zone of cultural debate,"
"an arena where other types, forms, and domains of culture are encountering,
interrogating, and contesting each other in new and unexpected ways"
(1988:6).  It is at this level that the state as an integral entity emerges
and operates, controlling or at least deeply involved with the possibilities
and organization of mass communication and the 'imagined communities' that
such media help establish.  Benedict Anderson probably has made the most
extended analysis of the relationship of the founding of the nation as
state, and the establishment of print: "What, in a positive sense, made the
new communities imaginable was a half-fortuitous, but explosive, interaction
between a system of production and productive relations (capitalism), a
technology of communication (print), and the fatality of linguistic
diversity" (Anderson 1991:43).  The primordial link between particular
territories and particular languages was of course to be an important factor
in the construction of nationalist and 'nationalizing' ideologies.  The
permanence associated with the technology and the products of print were
seen to give rise to assumptions about the stability of the 'history' of any
particular nation.  The nation was to be the bounded, universal, collective.

	Once established, the state claims, as did the dynastic regime prior
to it, to act on behalf of the many communities of interest, establishing
the single standards where single standards appear to be needed.  They do
this, implicitly, based on the possibility of the exercise of force over the
individuals and groups.  As Max Weber has said, 'the state is a human
community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of
physical force within a given territory..." (Weber 1948:78)

	From the perspective of the mediascape, the State can be conceived
as a function of the use of media, and one that, symbiotically attempts to
control the use of media.  Philip Schlesinger captures this, pointing out
that similar to Weber:

  Norbert Elias has referred to the 'pacified social spaces' that the
  monopoly of force confers within a given territory.  In the modern world
  such social spaces are also communicative spaces: the permitted range of
  communicative practices within the territory of a state, and the extent to
  which official linguistic and cultural norms may be exclusively imposed and
  resisted, are precisely the kinds of questions with which we are concerned.
  It is obvious too that there are global and other supranational
  communicative spaces which impact variously upon those of given states...
  (Schlesinger 1992b:299)

      It is of course at this 'supranational' level that so much
conceptualization and research is now occurring, in part because so much of
it is unknown.  As was suggested in my introduction, the notion of strategic
and tactical uses of communication are bound to become more and more part of
our conceptions of this 'transnational' level where resources, whether of
images, demographics, materials, etc. are constantly being shifted according
to abstract, essentially capitalist rules and assumptions in a
deterritorialized calculus.  If it is the work of the public domain to
relate cultural politics to a material and ecological settings, to the
limited resources of spatial extent, ecology, and presumed histories, so the
transnational level appears to foreground issues of change, movement, and
calculus based on change, or else, as in the case of Buddhism, Islam, or
Christianity, etc., supranational ideologies and histories.

	This three-fold perspective is not unlike the famous one of
economist and historian, Fernand Braudel who spoke of the structures of
everyday life, where the *practices* of the production and reproduction of
life occur within bounded histories and material circumstances; the level of
the 'wheels of commerce' which services to constrain and optimize the
workings of the everyday; and finally the more global capitalist perspective
which gradually emerges to deal with both the contingencies of production
and distribution (serving to minimize risk), and serving to integrate
ultimately world scale economies.  One of the points of this paper is to
insist that we keep in mind what I have been calling the 'grassroots level,'
the level (or scale) of the structures of everyday life, and the way it both
strategically uses and becomes identified and identifiable in and through
media use.

	By grassroots here I am indicating something more than the highly
politicized and resistant forms of cultural struggles (cf. Pan 1991; Downing
1987; Kahn & Neumaier 1985) within the mediascape, a grassroots bubbling up
from the everyday with strategies of intervention, appropriation, and
resistance, including locally produced videos, communal song, pirate radio,
indigenous theater, graffiti, computer networking, VCR and audio tape
exchange, small circulation magazines, etc.  Even this notion of grassroots
activism needs to be more thoroughly theorized, especially in terms of the
'reappropriation' of the activist venture.  Here, however, I want to draw
attention to the need to research, understand, and develop policy for each
of these levels or domains in terms of their interdependencies.

	Consider the case of the well known Japanese minority, the Ainu, as
presented in Jonathan Friedman's research.  Prior to the 1960s, he states
that the Ainu who are of Indo-European extraction and were in the Japanese
Islands prior to the movement there of the current 'Japanese' thought of
themselves either as outcasts or simply as Japanese.  However, in the 1970s,
an Ainu cultural movement developed.  Friedman argues that (local) Ainu
identity was reformulated in the context of the temporary global demographic
flow known as tourism, and in the developing infrastructures and economics
of tourism.  The call to Ainu identity was made by an appeal to the
'Japanese' majority, but in terms of a transnational, non-governmental

	Tourist production and display has become a central process in the
conscious reconstruction of Ainu identity.  It emphasized the distinctive
content of Ainu ethnicity for Japanese tourists in a context which such
specificity is officially interpreted as a mere variation of Japanese
culture and not a separate identity.  The presentation of Ainu selfhood is a
political instrument in the constitution of that selfhood.  (Friedman

Through the implicit use of telephones, satellites, computers, etc., and the
other devices on which both international and domestic tourism depend, the
Ainu have been able to somewhat go over the heads, or at least circumvent
the designs and assumptions of the national whole.  What this obviously does
is to give new power to marginalized 'groups' who can figure out how to
organize in terms of these non-national level media.  And of course, in so
far as the Ainu do become (self)organized, they begin to appear and have
leverage within the national media, and in the national cultural media as

	This undermining of viability of the spatially bound, public sphere,
administered with a strong element of State control has all kinds of long
term consequences.  What, after all, *is* to become of this shared
commonality, and the principles of collective action?  Daniel Dayan and
Elihu Katz have recently written about the need for what Durkheim called
organic solidarity, a solidarity based on membership, similarity, equality,
and familiarity, and how, by way of extension of the anthropological work of
ceremony and performance of Victor Turner, this solidarity can be formulated
in terms of the dominant media which converge on the national whole.  In
their revisionist account of media events, certain shared media experiences
are construed as helping to foster democracy, even plurality such that "the
electronic media... enfranchises the citizen viewer." (Dayan and Katz 1992).
And if the public sphere as nation becomes a sham, will not the more
intimate grassroots levels be open to the depredations of transnational
forces without some kind of collective resource?  Framed in articles with
titles such as 'Cosmopolitanism without Enlightenment' (Rorty) and 'The
disappearance of Meaning' (Burger) a host of citizens are becoming more and
more worried about their collectives in terms of the possible necessity for
collective decisions and collective action (Lasch & Friedman 1992).

	And what is to become of the state in its more coercive sense.
State power has often justified itself in enlightenment or protection (cf.
Toulmin 1990).  Social control was to be exercised on behalf of the
development or protection of the culture as a whole.  Now in so far as the
state apparatus is less and less effective in controlling the cultural
lives, to its cultural legitimacy, this can lead to an increasing reliance
on the crucial power that remains: terror, whether implicit or explicit (cf.
Schlesinger 1991a).  Terror and its threats can keep the national apparatus
intact, but will of course undermine cultural legitimacy even more, leading
all the more to reliance on grassroots and transnational media flows, as
well as the development of critical stances permissible within the state
conception of 'public interest.'  James Lull speaks of the currently split
public sphere of the People's Republic of China in these terms: "Chinese
people also readily deconstruct institutional pronouncements by means of
their alert and ambitious involvement with television.  The country's
depressed economic status, its broadening culture, and the stinging
political turmoil all encourage critical interpretations of the public face
and voice of government" (Lull 1991).

	National or at least collective unity, however, makes sense.  These
are products of sense making operations emerging from the politics of
identity in the mediascape.  Without this collective identity, how are we to
interpret the world, and develop strategies to change it? (Bauman 1990;
1992; Giddens 1991).  In their divisive phase, such identifications appear
connected to strategies of fundamentalism, ethnic identity and cleansing can
make sense.  Without a more elaborate sense of the postmodernist strategies
involving an elaboration of the processes of collaboration (Uncapher 1993),
exclusionary logics can result in a loss of mooring.  The choice, as one
defender of the project of modernity puts it is between 'ontological
security and existential anxiety' (Giddens 1991).  As this culture making
and remaking goes on, it increasingly has at its command communicational
tools which lie beyond territorialized command.

		Videotapes and VCRs: Hand-to-Hand Networks

	The importance, then, of this grassroots level of global
communication cannot be underestimated, and yet most globalization research
has tended to explore more explicitly the transnational levels, or else the
politics and history of the concept of the 'nation' and the state.  The more
disorganized cultural flows connected with VCRs, computer networking, and so
on, need more research in this context.  With these questions in mind, and
given the increasing amount of research given over to the issues of
transborder data flows, computer networks, and other electronically
sustained, yet almost unlocateable cultural and political economies, I would
like to conclude, by way of an example, by taking instead a closer look at
the role of the VCR in the global cultural economy.  I will first refer the
reader to several useful summaries and anthologies of the current state of
the global VCR penetration and use (Ganley&Ganley 1987; Boyd, Straubhaar, &
Lent 1989; Levy 1989; Dobrow 1990 by way of summary, and articles in
Variety, the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, etc. by way of
update).  Several general suggestions about the position of the VCR in the
mediascape in terms of its three-fold aspect need to be considered:  While
the production of videocassette tapes is more and more done with
international markets as part of  deterritoralized investments, the tapes
and hardware can be redistributed by grassroots distribution systems, and
seen as threatening by the proxies of the public sphere.

	One African government official has described video as the "enemy in
our backyard" (Boyd, Straubhaar, Lent 1989:x).  The enemy is a world beyond
the reach of government cultural engineering.  The mass media, the media
controlled implicitly or explicitly by this second level, serve to
facilitate national unity.   Consider the case of Turkey.  Asu Aksoy and
Nabi Avci present the case of the Turkish Television and Radio Authority
(TRT) which has begun beaming its signal into the six Muslim republics of
the former Soviet Union ending what had been up to then a Soviet state
monopoly.  "As well as paving the way for a more pluralistic media scene in
these new republics [which speak variations of Turkish], this event has also
signified a turning point in the organization of the Turkish media.  The
irony is that this new broadcasting venture has thrown into question the
very model around which TRT has historically been organized."  In fact, TRT
is a Turkish state run monopoly that has "until very recently, monopolized
the task of promoting and securing the continuation of national, Turkish
culture," and that is using the very methods adopted by so-called pirate
television stations now beginning to appear in Turkey itself seeking to
undermine the state monopoly there (Aksoy and Avci 1992:39).  That is,
'Turkish' culture, like that of the Arab culture projected by the MBC
satellite, barely covers a reality of heterogeneous 'cultures' centered
around the assumption of a single culture.

	Turkey, and its central Asian cousins, have the possibility of a
more common expression given something of the commonalties of their
language.  Even still, Abram de Swaan (1991) makes the notable point that
especially in an era of the active movement of peoples and the shifting of
boundaries, there is no 'nation' that does not have bi-lingual or
multi-lingual elements.  Armenian, Farsi, and Kurd minorities seek their own
voice in Turkey proper. de Swaan fails to really consider people bound by a
common language, but separated by space.  VCR and video use, tied to the
practices of language, need not be organized by the spatial logics and
mythologies of the state.  Rather, they can develop in terms of
interpersonal practices at the 'grassroots' level, and in terms of
international funding and ideological strategies at the transnational level.

	In fact, all the studies on VCRs noted above point out that when
television broadcasting is strongly limited, either because of limitations
in funding and development of the infrastructure or by governmental fiat,
VCR use quickly increases, even in societies with less disposable individual
income, other factors being equal.  Ogan postulated, "that as VCR ownership
in many countries increases, there are increased opportunities to avoid
centrally distributed broadcast and increased opportunities to view
individualized content." (Dobrow 1989:199)  Further, with the ongoing
innovation in 'sky channels' spatially bound nations are increasingly
fighting simply to maintain something of their role as cultural arbiter.
Conceding that they are losing their battle to enforce homogeneity in terms
of nationalist ideologies, and are simply trying to control something of the
mediascapes real estate.  Malaysia and Singapore have both begun to allow
production, distribution, and consumption of Chinese material (Boyd,
Straubhaar, & Lent 1988:34).

	At the level of videotape distribution, governmental and 'moral'
controls were often actively subverted.  Several authors told of humorous
accounts to sidetrack videotape censors.  In the Middle East, often a video
tape would begin with an innocuous scene from a children's program, and then
suddenly veer into more salacious materials.  One of the major problems with
this strategy has been that forgetting which tape was which, the
'pornographic' tape might be sent to a children's party.  Further, as
copyright and other legal protections to the programmer are promulgated at
the level of the state and its courts, video pirating is a lucrative cottage
industry, and one that serves to further send the content to where there is
demand for it.  Boyd estimates that some 75% of the tapes in circulation in
the Third World are bootleg or pirate editions.  This can hurt not only the
production budgets of the international producers, but budgets of the local
independent production.  Both Nigeria and India report sizable losses to
illegal pirate editions of their independent video productions, thereby
damaging their own national media industries.

	All the same, we should at least consider two crucial propositions
made by David Waterman: First that "All other things equal (notably the
programme's country of origin), larger amounts of production investment
attract larger audiences" and "All other things equal (notably production
investment), audiences prefer programmes produced within their own country."
(Waterman 1988:144)  Where 'local' content is produced, Waterman suggest
that it will at least have an advantage over 'foreign' productions.
Essentially, in so far as the more locally produced program will have more
resonance with local problems and humor, and will deal with local cultural
and social contradictions more identifiably, we would expect that such
programming would have an advantage in reaching its audience, even if the
locally produced program were of somewhat 'inferior' production quality.
For example, in Brazil, where there were alternative broadcast channels
available, VCR penetration was much slower than in Columbia which had much
more strict content controls.

	Together, the transnational level, which helps to fund and organize
high production standards, and the grassroots level which helps to mobilize
interpersonal networks to rapidly diffuse media products around governmental
boundaries.  For example, "Japanese television shows have been taped off the
air in Tokyo, and the tape given to a traveler on a late-night or
early-morning flight to Taipei, where it is made into multiple copies for
sale the following day." (Boyd,Straubhaar,Lent 1989:37).  Further, in the
case of much of 'transborder data flows' digitized forms of media products,
including information services, quasi-private messages, can get sent rapidly
through international boundaries, with one part of a message entering a
country via one data channel, and another part of the message entering
through another channel, with both elements being assembled by a computer
which in turn checks to make sure that the message was sent accurately.
This bodes even more problems for cultural control being homogeneously
formulated at a 'national level.'

	One of the ironic points of this continual slippage of control is
the fact that groups that make use of media in revolutionary ways, such as
the grassroots use of audio cassette and video tapes, Xeroxes, broadsides,
and small newspapers to gain power, find these very same media tools can
later undermine their power.  Prior to the Iranian revolution, such
grassroots oriented media were used to circumvent the Shah's control of most
public media, such as mainstream printing, television, radio, and, to some
extent, the movies, while afterwards they themselves became the object of
revolutionary concern (Kho'i 1992; Fischer & Abdedi 1990:335-382; Akrami
1987).  While the late Dr. Ali Shari'ati allegedly proclaimed, "Give me the
national television (of Iran) for ten minutes, and I'll trigger the
revolution." (Kho'i 1992:31), in fact the real mobilizing power undoubtedly
lay with the alternative media where the distribution had to be continually
and actively re-organized at a grassroots level, and where there would be a
sharp contrast to the 'internationalist' entertainment oriented media
promoted by the Shah.  With the revolution, and its moral regime, new, less
dualistic, more adventure oriented items came to circulate at the margins.

	Two final points need to made in connection with understanding the
nature of video flows within the tri-fold conception of the mediascape.
First, we must bear in mind that new media come to be used, defined,
rejected, and reinvented in terms of the already existing motifs, histories,
and needs.  These needs and contexts, and the politics of identity into
which they feed, serve to define and situate new media; they do not come
with the technology itself.  Television and video can be seen as a threat to
traditional ritual theater worldwide which depends on public space, lengthy
timing, etc.  Still, these forms appear to be adapting to new circumstances.
The Ta'ziyeh, Iranian ritual theater according to one description
(Chelkowsky  1991) continues to evolve to its situation in relation to other
media, and still serves as a collective forum where people act out their
notions of the present in terms of ancient motifs, primarily the passion of
Ali.  In Bali, traditional, popular, theater is perhaps under even more
threat.  Whatever the new media are to mean and to be used, it will have to
do so in terms of traditional forms of public gathering and of more
individual, private (but not necessarily singular) re-collection of meaning.

	Finally, we must be attentive to the extent to which theorizing
about this changed mediascape and its impact on the nature of identity and
the continuity of cultures is occurring outside traditional 'western'
academies.  One of the main intellectual debates prior to the Iranian
revolution within Islamic circles had to do with the nature of new media and
their relation to traditional concepts such as 'nation' 'culture' and
'religion.'  Mullah Mutaharri, arguing for a form of universalist Islam
under 'Iranian' leadership felt the need to overcome the imperialist
subjugation which had formulated itself in terms of local 'nationalist'
ideologies, control, and media:

  	Mutahhari superbly displays the discourse structure of a vision of
  Islam that appeals powerfully to Shi'ite Iranians.  It is a discursive
  system that makes Iran central to Islam, transcending the sectarian claims
  of Shi'ism, while at the same time displacing efforts to separate out an
  Iranian historical identity apart from Islam.  It is a discursive system
  that attempts to block the seduction of hegemonic ideologies of the
  superpowers (American modernism, Soviet Marxism) that would devalue Iran and
  Islam as backward, needing tutelage (education, political, economic) in
  order to emerge as (perennially dependent) actors in the modern world.  And
  it provides a context in which the Pahlavi elites' Persian nationalist
  ideology seems not merely tawdry and artificial, but coherent only as a form
  of yielding to the idea of subaltern nations that need to be coordinated by
  the global industrial economy of the West or the Marxist empire of the
  north.  (Fisher & Abedi 1990:201)

The public sphere must be reformulated in a globalizing era in universalist
and universalizing formulas that do away with 'nations' and their systematic
subordination through sophisticated means of communication.  Hence the
Iranian revolution.

	In fact the most pointed critique of this position came from within
Iranian intellectual and revolutionary circles themselves from the complex,
perhaps post-modernist thinker (Uncapher 1993), Dr. Ali Shari'ati.
Recognizing the exclusionary, yet still secretly nationalist nature of this
position, Shari'ati argued for a much fuller understanding of the
increasingly integrated global media system, what we have been calling the

 	Shari'ati dismisses Mutahhari's understanding of the threats of
  imperialism as archaic.  The challenges of modern global technological and
  information-based society, powered by market capitalism that uses
  advertising and manipulation of psychological desire, are on a scale and of
  a subtlety that require a major rethinking of Iranian cultural resources so
  as to respond creatively to the new civilization and become an active
  participant and not a self-isolating enclave. (Fisher & Abedi 1990:202-203)

Influenced by the Algerian revolution and impressed by the way a
universalist creed had provided the cultural resources for the North African
nations to resist cultural and economic colonialism that had occurred south
of the Sahara, Shari'ati still also dismissed the isolationist,
fundamentalist streak in universalist regimens for the public sphere.  He
held onto a form of explicit nationalism, perhaps as the Dalai Lama has held
onto a Tibetan 'nationalism,' or more accurately, 'nationhood' while at the
same time trying to take into account the heterogeneous origins of culture

  	What is needed, on the other hand is a return [Shari'ati argues] to
  authentic nationalism, not a la Mutahhari in the sense of racial or
  ethnocentric chauvinism [such as is happening in Serbia, in Central Asia,
  etc.], but in the sense of an evolving, synthesizing, integrative culture.
  (Fischer & Abedi 1990:206)

Shari'ati leads us to understand that while the means for creating
collective identities has been increasing with the development of new media
forms, the consequences of enforcing these identities in the public sphere
can be devastating.  It is devastating not only in the tragic consequences
of seeing a plurality of identities fighting for a single spatial region,
but also devastating in that the identity as a practice can now become fused
with the practice and identity of the fight.  This is a difficult point to
make clear.  When Tibetan freedom fighters came to the Dalai Lama, their
spiritual and temporal leader and asked to be given permission to fight to
liberate Tibet from Chinese occupation, the Dalai Lama pointed out that even
if the Tibetans were able to regain their 'homeland' by force, they would
lose what it was to be Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhist.  What they had most to
offer the world was their sense of Tibet.  What is more, how would this
identity then fit in with the Chinese who do live in 'Tibet' and who have
much to contribute to the Tibetan cause? What is to become of the
Palestinians when the Jewish Diaspora comes to an end.  Rather, the Dalai
Lama said that they should fight to create a living cultural and spiritual
program, using all the media at their disposal, from painting and chanting,
to most recently including computer networking and hypercard database
stacks, while insisting within this cultural framework for the return of
their 'homeland.'

	From the policy perspective, a number of things become clearer. The
grassroots level is becoming ever more resilient to regimentation from the
level of public polity, even when backed that polity by the force of the
state apparatus.  If the sentiment of the grassroots is not behind a policy
so that associated popular, grassroots behaviors can be modified repeatedly
on interpersonal level, then there are too many alternative avenues of
collectivity and identification by which subgroups can mobilize and elude
that public domination.  The identifiable collectivities such as nations and
states have the greatest possibility of surviving in the movement of global
integration and disjuncture by emphasizing processes of federation and
integration, not identity, as well as in making arguments in terms of their
physical resources and environment.  In so far as the public polity is
spatially located, it will have a responsibility to care for, to speak on
behalf of its physical presence, of cultural strategies that might use that
physical level, and ecological stewardship arguments and practices which all
too often will not be part of global strategies.

	The mediascape as worked out between the local and the global
becomes on these terms a resource by which to create the public sphere again
and again, a public sphere which is to be redefined from its grassroots
level, and in terms of its global situatedness.  Indeed, the public sphere
is itself in part a creation of the mediascape, a symbol by which to situate
the continuities of culture, and which is situated by these cultures.  It is
too late for cultures to be considered in isolation, but not too late to
formulate collective strategies, resistances, and affirmations, to
reformulate old and identities in a world that can not be conceived as
simply local, as simply national, as simply global.


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