Sunday, September 25, 2011

South to North Information Flows

The role of the media in ethnic communities has changed in immense ways. Karim Karim talks about diaspora communities and the results of globalization for them. Because the world is expanding and linking in so many new ways, and most importantly because of technological advances, displaced communities are able to stay connected to their home nations.

One of the things Karim mentions is that most media and communication follows a North to South flow, meaning that media from developed nations like the U.S. and Western Europe reaches developing nations. But news from the South reaches the North in much smaller numbers. I personally think it’s interesting though that Karim talks a lot about diaspora media, but he doesn’t alter or change his statement that information flows are mostly North to South. I think the whole concept of diaspora media proves that information flows can also be South to North, even if it is on a smaller scale. For instance, when news from Brazil reaches a diaspora community in the U.S., that is South to North flow.

This reminds me so much of my home in Arizona. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a diaspora, but it is the ultimate short South to North trip. I’m talking about the Mexican- American community in Arizona. In some places, you can hardly consider it a displaced community. In Nogales, Arizona, you can see Nogales, Mexico from many peoples’ backyards. But they are still a people who have left their home country and live together in communities. Often, they keep their Spanish language and Mexican food, customs, holidays and religious traditions. Because this diaspora community is so close to its original home, the information flow is large and influential. There are Spanish language newspapers, many Spanish language TV stations, Spanish billboards and advertising and phone plans offering cheap international communication between the U.S. and Mexico.  I think this shows that South to North flows can and do exist.

I actually learned about a similar example that is closer to D.C. just today. There is a theater in Adams Morgan called the Ontario. It started as a high-end movie theater in the 1950s, but when the neighborhood started changing and was affected by the riots after the death of MLK Jr., its patrons stopped coming. For a while, it failed, but eventually they started playing Spanish language films there and it filled up again. This is another example of South to North diaspora media flow.

I am quite possibly understanding it wrong, but I feel like two of Karim’s theses are contradicting. He discusses the abundance of diaspora media, but still believes that media flow is almost exclusively North to South. 

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