“Enacting Cultural Rights: The Case of Ethnic Minority Media and Cultural Participation”
Keynote Address for the Conference on Global Media and China in Post-Pandemic Times, Communication University of China, 9thOctober, 2020
Abstract: In this talk, I interrogate a much-discussed dimension in anti-racist work today, namely the role of “media and cultural participation” in developing strong social capital and resilient cultural identity for ethnic minority groups. The notion of the “right to culture” as enshrined in international human rights frameworks, such as Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, has spawned robust media and cultural participation research in many cities and countries around the world. In many such contexts, the research prompted by international standards has gone well beyond mere access to legitimate forms of culture to encompass the vital development of language, education, class mobility, social service provisions, and of course appreciation of arts. In post-pandemic times, these developments take on an urgency especially for socially marginalized communities. Unfortunately, in many cases, sub-sector participation in the arts and media culture has often been ignored in relevant research studies. To address the gap, I will explore remedies in two ways. First, I call for a detailed capacity analysis that paves the way for understanding ethnic minorities’ habitus and cultural dispositions, which in turn sheds light on whether migrant ethnic marginalization can or cannot be ameliorated by participatory practices, especially practices related to the enjoyment and creative participation in popular arts. Second, I look atthe digitization of art and media as a unique engine for changing the dynamics of participatory culture through minority youth’s various capacities and aspirations of cultural activities online. A typology of digital cultural capacity for ethnic minority youth in Hong Kong will be used to illustrate their access and participation in media, arts, and leisure activities on the Internet, as controlled by demographic variables such as gender and class. It is argued that the enactment of cultural rights is often complicated by ethnic minority youth’s community capacity, social capital, and cultural identity. The joint consideration of these tiers of indicators sheds critical insights on the barriers preventing minorities’ cultural integration.