Learning Cluster at Soka University of America, January 2015: Course Objectives

In the last decades, the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina have sought, through media reform, more participation in the production and distribution of media in principle to assure a plurality of voices. This political undertaking, which supporters of these elected governments see as an instrumental part of the process of re-democratization, is at the center of a controversial endeavor to overcome inequality in Latin America. For instance, the governments of Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, have advanced new regulations through their respective congresses that are believed to be instrumental in the democratization of mass media. 

This Learning Cluster will explore the critical intersections of media, democratization, and social struggles Latin America. Together we will analyze the media as key political-economic institutions, as the public sphere or contested political-cultural arenas within which political and social struggles are waged. As such, the media will be understood as the object of political struggles over legislation or regulations that shape its functioning and also as a way to reinforce participatory practices and community projects. Students interested in this course should be willing to theorize and imagine new political, economic, social and cultural systems that are more participatory and egalitarian. Our focus will center on analyzing how different types of media platforms (corporate, state/public, party, community, social, etc.) play a role in current struggles and on how particular types of media restructuring reshape power relations at all levels.

The following are some questions I would like to consider in this LC: What is the role of the State in the production and distribution of media (TV programming, radio programming, film, internet programming) in the past few decades of neoliberal economics, post-dictatorship democratization processes, and increasing popular resistance to inequality in Latin America? How is “identity” shaped by different media formats? Have new digital technologies helped to undermine the monopoly of media conglomerates? What are some of the theoretical and ideological debates around the role of the media in the consolidation of democracy and the pursuit of social justice? How do social movements use and/or create their own media? What are some of the contributions of grassroots organizations and groups in the ongoing process of democratization?

Students enrolled in this LC will be part of a working group that will generate an application for a Nieves Grant to visit Latin America next academic year to continue research on this topic.

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