Media, Communication Technologies, and the Promises of “Democratization” Across Asian Mediascapes

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Media, Communication Technologies, and the Promises of “Democratization” Across Asian Mediascapes
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Donald Santacaterina, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, United States (organizer, presenter)
Nicole Huang, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (chair, discussant)
Ipsita Sahu, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India (presenter)
Yuji Xu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong (presenter)
Julia Behrens, Humboldt University, Germany (presenter)


Shifting applications of media communication technologies have often put communities across Asia "at the crossroads" of evolving news cultures, social values systems, definitions of citizenship, and
conceptions of "democracy." But despite twentieth century theorizations which prophesized that communication technologies would open borders, improve educational opportunities, and serve as a
democratizing force across the globe, local realities often stood at odds with such predictions. As forces of globalization across the second half of the twentieth century brought television technologies to Indian consumers, socialist methods of news dissemination to illiterate Chinese audiences, and a bewildering variety of foreign radio broadcasts to diverse groups of regional listeners across Asia and Europe,
producers and consumers of media alike struggled with contradictory visions of how communication technology would contribute to "democratizing" processes within the narrow political parameters of the Cold War. Through a closer look at the "mediascapes" of local and transnational communities, this panel reveals how an interplay between the propaganda techniques which informed media content and the fluid ways in which consumers appropriated such media often gave rise to competing visions of identity and nationhood in practice. Chaired by media expert of "political soundscapes" Nicole Huang, this panel brings together scholars from India, Hong Kong, the United States, and Germany to elaborate on the role of such a dialectic between communication technology and shifting concepts of "democratization," both across physical borders of nation-states and across this diverse range of historical "mediascapes."