MEDIA SPACES: REDEFINING COMMUNICATION

 The term media space refers to a system that uses integrated video, audio and computers to allow people to work together despite the obvious differences in spatial distribution and time (Wellman 1991, p. 203). Described very acutely by Barry Wellman, the concept of media spaces ultimately redefines the conventional methods of communication, as the unforseen potentialities are endless (1991, p. 203).

Personally I see the term media spaces being much more prevalent in the more ‘present’ attitude that the media holds nowadays. Media spaces hold a type of “physical co-presence” (Cronin p. 61) from participating in shared communication practices, which can essentially aid the process of network-building. Therefore from the amount of presence that a person can demand through media interaction and engagement, media spaces can go beyond a physical space.

Even more so, if we look at the explosion of video accessibility and usage, this has enabled a multitude of ways for people to communicate. Most importantly, it is also critical to note that both private and public accessibility is available in various types of video usage. Hence, there is a greater appeal for such diverse applications of videography in terms of how we utilise it in media spaces.

When travelling overseas, using programs like Skype or FaceTime can enable people to connect back home and literally transcend the obvious physical boundaries. As stated by Harrison (2009 p. 302), video-mediated communication nowadays is in the hands of everyday consumers, as opposed to being limited to large corporations and the world of work. Hence, this ‘private’ usage of videography has been beneficial in my own travels overseas in Europe as I was virtually connected with family on a regular basis to keep in touch (and also maintain the sanity of my mum while absent for four weeks). Furthermore the term ‘private’ illustrates the different uses of videography in media spaces, for example, the public platform YouTube allows individuals to have a much larger audience in regards to who views their own video posting. Hence through the integrated use of video, audio and computers, it encourages interaction in a digitalised manner.

Additionally, this can also go beyond personal usage and adopt a functional purpose in a work environment. As evinced, media spaces can be considered primarily conceived of communication infrastructures for work activities (2000 p. 130). Viewing other employees via a video camera from a distant location has become integrated into professional protocol in any respective workforce. Hence it is supportive of encouraging elaborate exchanges between various members despite the physical separation. Therefore the media space can function as motivating an ongoing communication channel to complement work activity.

Through the multitude of ways that we can access and appreciate media spaces, our presence and awareness will forever be ongoing. By participating in activities like videography, the physical connection can transcend itself into a digital interaction that still, connects. Hence, in whatever manner you choose to utilise videography, whether that be private or public, you are successfully redefining conventional methods of communication.

 


 

Cronin B, 2006, ‘Annual Review of Information Science and Technology,’ Information Today Inc., USA, p. 61

Harrison S, 2009, ‘Media Space 20+ Years of Mediated Life’, Springer Science & Business Media, London, UK, p. 302

Sloane A, Van Rijn F, 2000, ‘Home Informatics and Telematics: Information, Technology and Society,’ Springer Science & Business Media, New York, USA, p. 130

Wellman B, 1991, ‘Experiences in the Use of a Media Space,’ Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, USA, p. 203

REMINISCING ON THE RESEARCH

Within the execution of this research project, three main research concepts including reflexivity, critical judgement and respect, emerged as providing the framework to successful research. As explained below, each of these concepts were seen to hold an intrinsic presence amongst all areas of this research area. Furthermore the overall application of such methods has propelled the ethical representation of data to be upheld, in order to remain a reliable researcher.

From the interviews that were conducted in this report, I have appreciated that ongoing reflexive behaviour is crucial in producing authentic research. As determined by Moustakas, it is through a researcher’s heuristic inquiries that the concept of ‘self’ is utilised as a main tool in the research procedure (cited in Etherington, 2004 p. 16). This correlated mainly into my research area due to my own personal experience as a type 1 diabetic student at UOW. Therefore throughout the methodology and development of focus area I consistently reaffirmed my attachment to this research, which provided motivational guidance towards producing an accurate representation of information. Hence an overall achievement from the execution of these interviews was the ability to connect and share stories with other students as this prompted a greater sense of purposeful research behaviour.

By distinguishing the study area of my research project, this gave a clear indication towards the types of reflexive research to be conducted. As stated, a distinctive feature of qualitative methods is that they originate from the perspective and actions of the subjects studied (Alvesson, Sköldberg 2009 p. 7). Therefore, this meant that the researcher’s presence and further interpretation acts as a major influencer in the formation of final research (Alvesson, Sköldberg 2009 p. 7). Ergo through the incorporation of personal interviews, this gave my reflexivity greater leverage to encourage the participants’ answers through our connection with a chronic condition. Through this reflexive behaviour, I was more so inclined to execute ethical research within interviews and background information to ensure that this material is interpreted and understood as being reliable.

Additionally to obtain authentic research, it is necessary to engage with critical judgment in order to uphold ethical representation. As described by Burton & Watkins (2013 p. 119), critical judgement is an intellectual skill that researchers are expected to uphold to appropriately reflect their research objectives. As evinced from this report, resources such as Diabetes Australia and studies from medical scholars were incorporated to provide a framework for accountable research. In order to include this information the ‘CRAP’ validation method was implemented from evaluating credible sources and information legitimacy. Ergo critical judgment meant that resources were seen as being accountable for and acceptable for supporting evidence.

More so due to the health focus of my research area, respect was another critical aspect to adhere to. Firstly participants in the interview environment were made aware of the research focal point and their access to entitlements during the questioning process. Secondly, they were also made aware of my communication strategy (blog updates) to again, execute ethical behaviour in terms of keeping participants informed and alert to the research development. As confirmed by Sana Loue, researchers must fashion their research to be sensitive of varying understandings while still ensuring that fundamental principles of informed consent are followed (2015 p. 55). Ergo at the beginning of each interview, participants were given an outline of consent regarding the allowance to not answer questions and not incorporate personal details such as their name or age. Furthermore as referred to by Loue (2015 p. 55), it was crucial to be receptive of all participants’ answers and allow probing questions to be formed off such differing responses. Hence, this allowed for a more illustrative depiction of contrasting or similar experiences to be incorporated into the final report.

As deduced from above, the incorporation of each of these elements has highlighted the execution of authentic research. From upholding reflexivity, this meant that an ongoing connection to this research topic was maintained and further allowed for meaningful interactions to occur with participants. Additionally implementing critical judgment for main background research exhibited the criticality of ethical behaviour in the representation of personal data. Finally, always showcasing actions of respect meant that the participants were prioritised in the ethical collection of data. Furthermore maintaining the communication strategy kept them continuously informed of the project’s development. Thus through these concepts, this research has attempted to achieve the righteous attainment and representation of information to provide educative awareness on type 1 diabetes and tertiary study.


 

Alvesson M, Sköldberg K, 2009, ‘Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research,’ SAGE Publications Ltd., London, UK, p. 7

Burton M, Watkins D, 2013, ‘Research Methods in Law,’ Routledge, New York, USA, p. 119

Etherington K, 2004, ‘Becoming a Reflexive Researcher – Using Our Selves in Research,’ Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK, p. 16

Loue S, 2015, ‘Ethical Issues in Sandplay Therapy Practice and Research, Springer International Publishing, Ohio, USA, p. 55

 

 

Keeping the Research Receptive

Something that I have come to accept about undertaking a research project is the importance of remaining receptive and open to necessary changes. Originally, my research area was purely focussed on type one diabetics and stress management, however, after thorough consideration of all the ethicalities and practical measures involved it has now evolved into a similar yet slightly dissimilar topic:

The exploration of type one diabetic tertiary students and management.

Obviously the major changes seen here is my refocusing on academic students (seeing as I underwent a little detachment of specifying my particular people of interest) and the omission of stress from the area of study. However now that the project design and management task has been completed, I feel a boost of confidence in regards to knowing the definite exploration of my research.

Another major modification to make note of was my shift from utilising an online survey to conducting individual interviews. Upon consideration of the ethical framework involved in researching health-related topics, individual interviews seemed more logical and secure in terms of not mismanaging personal input. Once the panic of such a change in methodology had occurred, I realised that this in fact would provide a much more colourful depiction of the personal experiences of students with type one diabetes. Furthermore I was luckily able to review most of the survey questions already created to better suit an interview environment – but always remembering that probing questions are a major tool used in such research situations as I learnt from the wise words of Turner (2010, p. 757).

Some major research aspects that I utilised were acknowledging key research concepts of ethical and critical judgement to ensure that the information accumulated from this exploratory research will be in rightful accountability and respect. Therefore this would mean that the participants in this research project would be reassured of the project’s framework, the application of their input and overall academic objectives for this topic of research. More so, it would be adhering to socially responsible behaviour that would prompt the successful collection and representation of data from participants.

My original curiosity to examine type one diabetes as mentioned in a previous blog post, stemmed from my own experience with this chronic condition and how my project could potentially connect to the wider type one diabetic community. Thus through this research process my objectives are to exhibit continuous reflexivity to re-establish the foundation for my curiosity, as now conveyed through my remodified research area. From the execution of background research, ethical considerations and seeking feedback from academic staff, this ‘checkpoint’ has shown me the severe refurbishing that a research project can undergo. And as a good researcher, you must always remain receptive to these modifications to ensure that the best possible method of attack is going to be used.

 


 

Turner D, 2010, ‘Qualitative Interview Design: A Practical Guide for Novice Investigators,’ vol. 15 no. 3, Nova Southeastern University, USA, p. 755-757

 

 

Recognising Anthropomorphic Tendencies

When we consider Disney-classic childhood films such as Beauty and the Beast (1991) or Snow White (1937), a common hidden thread linking them together is the anthropomorphic character qualities in which we see a human-relatable attraction be born for ongoing future audiences. Particularly in regards to the application of human-like characteristics to animals, anthropomorphism in this sense tends to have an entertainment value. Presenting itself as being seemingly harmless in cartoon films, the presence of anthropomorphism in reality is an actuality. This seemingly harmless ‘literary’ device not only can instigate dispute due to the representative ethics surrounding animal depictions, but it also begs to question the reasons why it has been applied and further exploited on legitimate animals.

When we see the anthropomorphism of animals go beyond cartoon films and into a non-fictional realm, the judgement of how animals are treated can be put under scrutiny. The controversy of whether they should be treated with human-mannerisms or seen as purely instinctual beings requires a firm belief towards the existence of emotional intelligence in non-human animals. The 2013 documentary film Blackfish acutely explores this divide. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, it focuses on the contentious life of SeaWorld killer whale Tilikum who, “out of frustration” from twenty years of “intense confinement, isolation and lack of emotional and intellectual stimulation,” killed three people in separate incidences (SeaWorld of Hurt, 2017).

John Hargrove was a professional trainer who worked with Tilikum at SeaWorld in Florida and believes that the mistreatment towards killer whales, particularly in regards to confinement, is what led Tilikum to be humanly “domesticated” to produce “family-friendly theatrical settings. He states that the corporate marketing strategy had turned these animals into “pandas of the sea, commercial and cuddly” and left little signs of the “complexities of killer whales” (Hargrove, 2015) and the consequences of keeping them in captivity.

What is even more paradoxical is the fact that the trainers were told not to anthropomorphise the animals in order to not give them human sentient (Hargrove, 2015). However, despite this blatant demand, the fact of the matter remains that these marine animals did posses substantial emotional intelligence. Described as a social phenomenon between animals that helps maintain relationships, morality is seen as being integrated into their social behaviour (Bekoff & Pierce, 2009). Interestingly research conducted by David Mech highlights that the pack size of wolves is dependent upon the social attraction factor or rather, how well the wolf can bond. Furthermore as stated, “many animals have the capacity for empathy” which enables them to “perceive and feel the emotional state of fellow animals” (Bekoff & Pierce, 2009). Therefore, through close-knit interactions with animals in social groups, they can develop a knowledge for ‘codes of conduct’ and emotional capacity.

When acknowledging Tilikum’s removal from his pod around two years of age in 1983, it can patent to see the obvious psychological impact that it had on him and how his challenge to bond with other orcas was repeatedly unsuccessful. An orca’s life is governed by emotions and is a critical part of their social existence. The argument put forth after the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010 that Tilikum’s aggression was an instinctual act is unwarranted. Dr Lori Marino contends that aggressive behaviour in captivity is “not predatory instinct” (Hargrove, 2015) gone wrong – they are in fact definite acts of aggression made by choice in instances where an orca has experienced chronic stress and not learnt appropriate conduct through the family pod. Therefore it is the orca’s environment, boredom, constant training and performance expectations that prompt elevated stress levels and see them react in desperate measures.

Tilikum’s ordeal highlights the unnecessary exploitation of applying human behavioural customs to an idiosyncratic non-human being. Through such depictions of animals in various media mediums, we are endlessly feeding the notion that representing animals as being more ‘human-like’ is favourable. However as evinced from the removal of Tilikum at sea, placement in confinement and overall training as a performer, his frustration provoked his aggressive actions as a means of responding to his own suffering.

Ultimately it is through the deprivation of an animal’s freedom that we see the existence of moral frameworks breakdown. So when considering the anthropomorphic characteristics of Tilikum, it is crucial to retain the knowledge that “being inattentive to their feelings – and their acute sensitivity to environment and their complex relationships with other whales – can potentially be deadly” (Hargrove, 2015).

 


 

Bekoff M, Pierce J, 2009, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, University of Chicago Press, USA, pg. 4-5

Hargrove J, 2015, Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish, Palgrave Macmillan Publishing, USA, pg. 8, 73, 167

SeaWorld of Hurt, 2017, ‘Blackfish’: The Documentary That Exposes SeaWorld, viewed March 24th <http://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/blackfish-documentary-exposes-seaworld/>

The Questionable Right to Witness

Photographers will argue that their work exists to be a visual representation that increases public awareness. This awareness, when it is extracted from the photograph, will see us viewers be deemed as a ‘witness’ to such depictions. The ethical responses that will result from controversial images including those that depict rather severe cases of human suffering will be constantly disputed due to the equivocal righteousness in which the photograph was taken. Unless the purpose of the image and intent of the creator will induce a collective opinion towards combating the depicted suffering, the morality framework in taking such images will always be vulnerable to dispute.

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian photographer and photojournalist whom is widely known for his poignant images that attempt to document dire circumstances of raw human suffering. Recipient of the ASA’s Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Award in 2010, Salgado was recognized for his contribution towards promoting sociological concerns via his photography. When researching about Salgado’s photography, there was an overriding sense of favourable admiration for his work. Being described as being “the last great photographer,” (Jones, 2015) and one of the most respected modern photojournalists, Salgado’s reputation has been built on the appreciation for his evocative visual documentations.

 

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Image via artsy.net

 

However, Salgado’s intent to portray humans dealing with extreme human conditions calls into question whether such images are taken in an appropriate ethical manner. As stated, “aestheticisation refers to photographs of human suffering” that are believed to offer disinterested pleasure to the audience (Grønstad & Gustafsson, 2012). It is argued that the presence of such representations aims to further “depoliticise the viewers” (Grønstad & Gustafsson, 2012) by diverting their attention away from the suffering depicted and instead, towards the image quality and composer’s artistry. Here we can see how the audience can be deemed insensitive to the circumstances being presented and thus, its failure to instigate an appropriate collective reaction to inhumane circumstances.

Additionally cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal underlines the ethical controversy surrounding the publication of certain images. She states that the subjects in the photographs “do not get paid, or paid in proportion to their enduring exposure” and they are given “no chance to endorse the circulation of their image” (Grønstad & Gustafsson, 2012). Therefore, Bal argues that the viewers to these images are contributing to the subject’s exploitation (Grønstad & Gustafsson, 2012). Bal’s argument further feeds the belief that these photographs are not taken in the correct ethical manner for it is an unjust misuse of photography that does not benefit the subject in any instrumental way – for the subject is ultimately left in the same suffering that they were found in.

By contrast, the justification for exhibiting such photographs on a global scale relies on the need to educate and inform global viewers. An excerpt from The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, states that photographs bring attention to the “unbridgeable chasm that separates ordinary life from extraordinary experiences of political trauma” (Linfield, 2010). Furthermore, it discusses the depictions of Holocaust camps and how such events cannot be easily processed which is why photography can function to educate us on past failures in order to truly gain an insight into historical devastation (Linfield, 2010) .

The debate surrounding the publication of such unsettling images will continue to exist for as long as such distressing human conditions exist. The aesthetic aspects of Salgado’s photography can be argued to function as depriving the subject of true validation and value. However it is also the shock tactic that can also be argued as forcing recognition for such suffering caused by political and humanitarian crises. As a result of such informative artistry there will perpetually exist the questionable justification of being able to ‘witness’ such evocative photographs. Therefore it is our individual interpretation of such representations that will contribute to our comprehension of the image functioning as either an ethical or unethical method of communication – or perhaps even elements of both. While we are able to turn away from the photograph, the subjects in them are not given that prospect. So ultimately, it is our own inaction that can be our own undoing.

 


 

Grønstad A, Gustafsson H, 2012, Ethics and Images of Pain, Routledge Publishers, New York USA, p. 22, p. 25

Jones, 2015, The Guardian, Sebastião Salgado: my adventures at the ends of the Earth, viewed March 17th 2017 <https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/18/sebastiao-salgado-photo-london-photography>

Linfield S, 2010, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, University of Chicago Press, USA p. 15

Artsy, 2017, SEBASTIÃO SALGADO, viewed March 17th <https://www.artsy.net/artwork/sebastiao-salgado-mali-1>

Artistically Amateur?

When we consider images that originate from the high fashion sphere, you wouldn’t bat an eye-lid if nudity was a feature among them. The omnipresence of nudity in artistry or rather more specifically, in the fashion industry is accepted as simply functioning as an aesthetic attribute. However, when we consider the reaction produced from nudity in self-taken photos or ‘selfies,’ there is an immense difference in the amount of controversy that is created.

An excerpt from a Popular Photography magazine notes that “since the ‘50s when Stern photographed Monroe for Vogue magazine, nudity in high fashion presentation has taken on a harder edge” (Kalmus Y, 1983). Now it seems that this shameless attitude has flourished not only into 21st century fashion, but also onto our screens in social media. With the proliferation of social media almost demanding ‘self-expression’ and ‘individualisation’ through our own means, when we see nudity it sparks a debate about the message individuals are trying to send to their viewers about themselves.

The selfie culture that has risen with the popularity of social media has seen associations of nudity with women be interpreted in a multitude of manners. For example, there are instances where nudity is utilised as a form of body positivity, self-expression or even liberation which has seen some objections claim that it is a move to empower women and defend feminism. However, it is in these cases that controversy is fed.

A notable article written by Hayley Phelan explores the conflicting views on such media posts and attempts to discover why it fuels diverse arguments. The apparent “double standard” that exists for women on social media has created an arena where their images are more likely to be “criticised for being exploitative, slutty or demeaning.” However, in mainstream media, we are continuously bombarded with photographs of “scantily clad women,” (Phelan, 2016) but are less likely to hear about the negative connotation of such images.

The obvious reason why women receive such backlash on images is due to the sexualisation that tints such photographs of them. As stated, it can be argued that audiences can “damn a girl for visual promiscuity, yet enjoy the spectacle at the same time” (Nelson, 2013). Furthermore such depictions of women, or rather younger teenagers also brings into the spotlight the ‘moral panic’ concerned with the nudity and the depiction that they dispatch to the public eye. This opinion that sexualising begins at a young age further highlights the “anxieties, concerns and ‘panics’ about the sexualisation of girls” (Gill & Scharff, 2011) and brings into question the inappropriate ways that they can be viewed via selfies made public on social media accounts. This reinforces that such ‘personal’ images are never confidential to harmful comments that intend to ‘slut-shame’ and demean users.

The way in which we view nudity in different arenas provokes a diverse amount of controversy and debate about what should be accepted as appropriate. No matter if we are looking at photographs of Bella Hadid’s fashion shoot featured in Flare magazine or images of a friend on Instagram, the ambivalence will always hold a presence in the message of the image.

 


 

Gill R, Scharff C, 2011, New Femininities, postfeminism, neoliberalism and subjectivity, Palgrave Macmillan Publishing, UK, p. 134

Kalmus Y, 1983, Popular Photography, Nude between the covers: a study of recent publications, volume 90 number 6, New York USA, p. 116

Nelson O, 2013, The Age, Dark undercurrents of teenage girls’ selfies, viewed March 12th <http://www.theage.com.au/comment/dark-undercurrents-of-teenage-girls-selfies-20130710-2pqbl.html>

Phelan H, 2016, ELLE, Is the Naked Selfie Good for Feminism? viewed March 12th <http://www.elle.com/culture/a34928/naked-selfie-and-feminism/>

Managing Study, Stress and a Faulty Pancreas

In 2015 it was surmised that the “peak age group of diagnosis” (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017) for type 1 diabetics rested between ten and nineteen years of age. Type 1 diabetes (also referred to as juvenile diabetes) accounts for 10% of all diabetic diagnoses (Diabetes Australia, 2015) and is accepted as one of the most prevalent chronic conditions that results from an abnormal immune response; one that ultimately leaves production of insulin by the pancreas in a defect.

When reading these statistics, a reality that struck me was that the age group of peak diagnoses was majority teenagers – meaning that a definite amount of these individuals would be attaining a higher-level education of some sort. Having been diagnosed myself at seven years of age and now studying at UOW, I was interested in researching the interconnection between type 1 diabetic management and academia. Even more so, how the stresses concerned with undertaking a university education can exert influence on glycemic control and visa-versa.

Having been a type 1 diabetic for over twelve years, I can confidently say that acknowledging the different factors that affect blood glucose levels (BGLs) will improve overall management. The more experience I have had with this condition, the more confidence I have gained with my control. By researching the effect that stress has on type 1 diabetics, I hope to not only bring to light an issue that all patients deal with, but to also see possible methods of how to deal with it.

In terms of collecting research for this project, I am aiming to obtain quantitative data in response to questions that will be directed at stress related BGL results and the actions that these individuals undertake towards them. I also hope to incorporate qualitative data to help describe the emotions and thoughts that individuals have to give a better personal insight into this condition. At the moment either conducting individual interviews or having a focus group will accomplish this.

An important consideration to take note of while completing this research will be ethical mindfulness when dealing with personal health. It will be essential to be aware of individual input and to make sure that clear communication is disclosed to participants to ensure they comprehend the information that is going to be used. This will ultimately make the data collection process very lucid for participants to make them feel at ease and comfortable with the responses and opinions they relay.

While researching this project, I am ultimately hoping to connect with other people through their own experiences with type 1 diabetes and their own tertiary study. Studying with a chronic illness is not by any means impossible, but it certainly does come with extra considerations to remember in order to master good glycemic control.

 


 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017, How many Australians have diabetes? viewed 10th March 2017 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/how-common-is-diabetes/#t3>

Diabetes Australia, 2015, Diabetes in Australia, viewed 8th March 2017 <https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia>

 

The Value of Curiosity

Their experiences, their accomplishments, are a reminder that you cannot live by curiosity alone. To have a satisfying life (and to make valuable use of curiosity), you also have to have discipline and determination.” (Fishman, Grazer 2015, p. 198)

This excerpt written by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman really consolidated my understanding of how learning satisfies starving curiosity. Within the process of fulfilling a curiosity, learning goes hand-in-hand with it. For when our minds become fixated on learning a concept, action or event, it is our curiosity that propels us to digest more.

The action of feeding a curiosity’s desire allows us to apply such knowledge to real, physical situations where we not only have the attained knowledge, but we also have the applied tenacity from making use of our own interest. Therefore through the process of fulfilling a curiosity, we are allowing ourselves to become receptive and equipped individuals in facing new situations.

For instance, since those good ol’ high school days I have always had a particular appeal towards the French language and upon the inception of my University degree, I decided to undertake subjects to feed my curiosity. Now two years later and a Minor in French behind me, I can happily say that my curiosity has been satisfied. Here, I can confidently say that it was my curiosity that led me to learn.

The knowledge that we obtain from pursuing a curiosity can go beyond recalling a mere fact or story. From applying “discipline and determination” to make “valuable use” of such interests as Grazer and Fishman (2015, p. 198) point out, we are enabling ourselves to become well-educated people. So ultimately by pursuing a curiosity, you might even gain a skill or two (like learning a few French words, right?).

So what we can take from curiosity is the need to pursue it in the right manner – in other words, to actually gain proper knowledge that can be utilised in the real world. As our curious writers state “…curiosity gives us the skills to better relate to people” (Fishman, Grazer 2015, p. 182) which shows us that by learning, our curiosity can make us better connect with people and better reap opportunities.

Having travelled to France last year, I put my skills to the test in an attempt to converse with native French speakers. Despite the sweaty palms and dry throat I was able to exchange a few words of understanding – even if it was just about ordering white wine. From these few words of exchange not only was I challenging myself, I was again learning how to simply communicate to a person using limited language.

rs_500x281-160218113045-oscars-5-wine-captain

Yes, I can say white wine in French. Image via eonline.com.

Always expect to undertake some type of educational experience when feeding a curiosity. In order to live a rewarding life as Grazer and Fishman put forth, it would be valuable to remember that pursuing a curiosity with a purpose or goal in mind is what will make us learn in the end.

So always remain passionately curious, as it might even take you to a restaurant in France if you let it.

 


 

Fishman, C, Grazer, B, 2015, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, p. 182, 198

Seeing is Believing

James Cameron's 2009 Film Avatar, image via deviantart.com

James Cameron’s 2009 Film Avatar, image via deviantart.com

The tech-savvy James Cameron film, Avatar (2009) illustrates the developing ‘Bollywoodization’ that is currently surfacing in the North American film market. Through the incorporation of “ancient Hindu concepts (p. 311, 2010)as Shaefer and Karan write, Cameron’s $2.7 billion earning film can be judged as borrowing cultural elements from Indian mythology. Cameron’s acknowledgement of such “overt Indian influences (p. 312, 2010)highlights the expanding prominence that ‘Bollywoodism’ is having in North American media. However, the question remains that is this example of ‘cultural borrowing’ a suitable incidence of cross-cultural interaction, or an exploitation that damages cultural integrity?

After India’s economic liberalisation that occurred in 1991, Shaefer and Karan note that there was an “emergence of a global network of formal and informal channels (p. 312, 2010)that served to popularise Hindi films. Ergo, the Hindi cinema underwent notable modifications in regards to how it was incorporated in global media. Through ‘Bollywoodization,’ incorporating such Hindi cultural elements was “absorbed into the conglomerate multicultural marketing toolkit (p.314, 2010),” and thus, prompts us to consider the appropriate ‘mergence’ of cultural identities in the global cinema.

This is specifically seen in the ‘mislabelling’ of Indian cinema as evinced from the British film Slumdog Millionaire. While it was widely perceived to be a ‘Bollywood’ film, audiences were wrongfully encouraged to link Western and Indian cultural values, which ultimately distorted prominent features of Indian cinema. As mentioned by Kaur and Sinha, the popularisation of Indian cinema through globalisation has induced the “proliferation and fragmentation of its fantasy space” for its “narrative and spectacle” create “diverse fantasies for diasporic communities (p. 15, 2005).” Ergo, these ‘modifications’ that Indian cinema underwent, has ultimately threatened the representation of their culture through Westernised productions.

Ravi Vasudevan astutely noted, “Bollywood cinema indicates the crossing of borders (2010, Vasudevan).” This statement most assuredly can be applied to facets of Cameron’s positive promotion of Hindi culture in global media as seen through Avatar. By drawing from the Ramayana storyline, elevating religious figures and promoting the ‘darshan’ outlook in Hinduism, Cameron aptly incorporated cross-cultural representation into the global cinema.

Additionally, Disney’s Brother Bear released in 2003 explores the Hindu notion of rebirth and karma as shown through the main character Kenai. Long story short, Kenai is transformed into a bear in order to enhance his perspective through his ‘rebirth’ as an animal. Praised for its “spiritual elements ,” (Hawthorne, 2015) this example also reinforces the range of audiences that Bollywoodism is now reaching, for even children are being exposed to international cultures through cinematic measures.

Disney's Brother Bear Incorporates Hindu Concepts, image via gifsmile.com

Disney’s Brother Bear reaches younger audiences, image via gifsmile.com

Through such inclusions of Hindi concepts, we can agree that the globalisation of cinema is undoubtedly not slowing down. As mentioned in Bollywood and Globalisation, from 2007 onwards, erratic yet promising alliances with Hollywood have surfaced (p. 13, 2011).” As evinced from such high grossing films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Avatar, the rising reputation of Asian film industries will continually challenge the hierarchy of the global filmmaking business. Even more so, challenge the content of what is portrayed. Kaur and Sinha have remarked that Hollywood “pushes world cultures towards homogenisation (p. 15, 2005)” which suggests that the integration of cultures is imperative for sustaining an appropriate cultural awareness in global media. Ergo the Indian film industry has the ability to flourish in its cinematic contra-flows, but the means in which it is done can ultimately nurture or deform the collective comprehension of their culture.


Karan K, Shaefer D, 2010, Problematizing Chindia : Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows, SAGE Publications, Los Angeles, USA pp. 311-314

Kaur R, Sinha A, 2005, Bollyworld: Popular Indian Cinema Through A Transnational Lens, SAGE Publications, New Delhi, India p. 15

Vasudevan R, 2010, The Melodramatic Public: Film Form and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema, Permanent Black, Ranikhet India

Mehta R, Pandharipande R, 2011, Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora, Anthem Press, NY USA p. 13

Hawthorne M, 2015, Hindu Concepts in the Movies, Hinduism, weblog post, viewed 27th August

Judging Ethnocentrism

Issues that have risen from tensions within cultural diversity bring into question the extent to which ethnocentrism exists in Australia, and most specifically, in its educational environment. It is an urging fact that multiculturalism in Australia is not the picturesque reality for international students who engage within our educational system to only be challenged by cross-cultural interaction. As Kell and Vogl note, a crucial feature in achieving success for international students is not solely academic based, “but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment (p. 2, 2007).Thus, it is imperative that ethnocentric tendencies are removed from preconceptions made about students from divergent cultural backgrounds.

Simon Marginson’s description of the human identity as being “open, fluid and in motion (p. 3, 2012)provides the proper outlook for establishing a positive education experience for international students. As he outlines, the strategy of hybridity allows the international student to become a “transformed self (p. 8, 2012),” by integrating cultural and relational elements to contribute to their sustainment of a “changing sense of self (p. 8, 2012).” Marginson further defines this as the ‘centering self’ as the student is actively engaged in “social encounters with diverse others (p. 9, 2012),” while being mindful that self-formation is upheld in order to develop a self-assured sense of identity.

Through this grounding of the ‘transformed-self,’ an international student’s “strong agency (p. 9, 2012)will allow them to improve “both language proficiency and cross-cultural relations (p. 9, 2012).” So, ultimately it is the extent of a student’s engagement within the Australian lifestyle that sees them learn from intercultural interactions and eventually, as Marginson puts it, “define themselves (p. 3, 2012).”

However, there are hindrances that impose upon an international student’s ability to prosper in their intercultural experience. A consequence of cultural hostility brought on by ethnocentricism, are incidences where the international student is marginalised. In International Students Negotiating Higher Education, interviews executed on international students revealed that “just under 50 per cent (p. 21, 2013)of the students had been affected by prejudice or offensive behaviour. Furthermore, Nasrin’s report on interviews with students from non-European countries states that they felt people “lacked knowledge about other countries and cultures (p. 400, 2010).” Through this lack of familiarity, stereotyping, discrimination and segregation can ultimately determine the “cross-cultural landscape (p.402, 2010).”

As Church says, “ethnocentric attitudes and stereotypes inhibit positive social interactions (p. 402, 2010),” as individuals will consciously evade cultural encounters. However, in more drastic circumstances, discrimination made in public situations can severe one’s perception of cultural acceptance. A personal experience from one Zimbabwe woman saw her be verbally abused by a woman at a Melbourne train station who ordered her to “go back where you came from.” Consequentially, she claims that this experience made her more aware of her nationality and of “being different (p. 392, 2010).”

In order to see the globalisation of education become an effective experience for international students, the barriers of communication need to be broken down. A 2006 survey concluded that more than half of students agreed with the statement ‘I don’t really feel I belong at the university (p. 21, 2013).’ Ergo, it is crucial that ethnocentrism in the Australian educational landscape is addressed by proper intercultural experiences that benefit the international (and local) student through non-presumptuous interaction. So ultimately, this ethnic enrichment will thus inaugurate Marginson’s concept of students becoming a ‘transformed self’ (p. 8, 2012) in a thriving, culturally diverse environment.


Blythman M, Sovic S, 2013, International Students Negotiating Higher Education: Critical perspectives, Routledge, New York, USA p 21

Forbes-Mewett H, Marginson S, Nyland C, Sawir E, 2010, International Student Security, Cambridge University Press, New York, USA p. 392, 402

Kell P, Vogl G, 2007, International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Macquarie University, Australia, p. 2

Marginson S, 2012, Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience: International education as self-formation, University of Melbourne, Australia, pp. 3, 8-9