YouTube’s comment feature provides the affordance of persistent interdiscursivity, as commenters can build on and intensify public debates with utterances that remain visible over time. Responding to an episode of Benefits Street, a British documentary about welfare recipients, commenters draw on and reinforce well-established discourses of social class, welfare, citizenship, and migration to invoke two opposing characters: ‘the demotivated British citizen on welfare’ and ‘the ambitious migrant’. These polarised and polarising stereotypes help to shape and reinforce neoliberal, post-welfare ideologies by painting welfare as stultifying and precarious mobility as motivational.
Analysing the ways these tropes and categories intersect in the comments provides insight into processes of social media polarisation. When sketching two opposing characters, certain conflations are effected; for example, ‘welfare as privilege’ and ‘migration as rebranding’. As the perception of social cohesion is integral for supporting the welfare state, these polarising stereotypes can bring material consequences.
Although the last two decades have seen an increased popularity of films with a Mediterranean setting, the term Mediterranean cinema is often used descriptively and has rarely been conceptualized analytically. A geographical location, however, has a relevant impact on the film-making process, the aesthetics, and the creation of meaning of a cinematic work. This talk examines two documentaries, My Love Awaits Me by the Sea (Mais Darwazah, 2013) and My Home, in Libya (Martina Melilli, 2018), envisioning them as part of a not-yet theorised Mediterranean film genre, and exploring the ways in which the concept of the sea as borderscape is articulated on screen. If human movements across the Mediterranean tend to be visually narrated only within a Eurocentric framework – as migratory flows oriented towards the northern shore of the sea – these films, on the other hand, depict a variety of encounters, trajectories and histories that are embodied and inscribed by individuals across the seascape, and they investigate the role this space plays in challenging interpretations of identity and belonging as seen through a nation-state perspective.
When the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (Burma) began a transition from military dictatorship to civilian-led government, a tourism boom ensued. From 2012 tourists sped to Myanmar in the interest of visiting a place allegedly ‘untouched’ by tourism or globalization. Drawing on my thesis fieldwork, in this talk I show that these discourses of the ‘untouched’ foster the creation of tourism frontiers, spaces that are highly desired by tourists and by industry actors who seek to reap the wealth contained in frontiers. The case of Myanmar illustrates how discourse enables forms of development that, throughout the spaces of global tourism, have dispossessed local residents through enclosure, commodification, and extraction. As the people of Myanmar struggle against the February 1, 2021 military coup, this study suggests that without a revaluation of the ‘untouched’, new frontiers for dispossessive development will be created as global tourism moves past the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meeting ID: 912 7925 1117
Please note that the Live broadcast will be CANCELLED in Room CRT-7.45, 7/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU.