One World, One Network‽

This episode features Shakuntala Banaji. She along with a panel of guest speakers critically explore the implications of One World One Network‽ and the challenges of the globalized world.

Show Notes

This episode features Shakuntala Banaji – one of the Conference Theme Co-Chairs of the 2022 ICA Conference. She along and a panel of guest speakers critically explore the implications of One World One Network‽ and the challenges of the globalized world. The group explores whether Marshall McLuhan's concept of a "global village" is a reality or a failed aspirational goal, and asks who then is being left behind.

Click here for the episode transcript on our website.

Shakuntala Banaji
Laura Guimarães Corrêa
Fatma Khan
Linje Manyozo

Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication
If you enjoyed this episode and want to learn more, here are some materials to check out:
Read more on the history of the interrobang.
Hear more about the history of the interrobang.

More from the host & guests:

Shakuntala Banaji
London School of Economics, England
TEDx Talk on Young People, the Internet and Civic Participation
Twitter: @LSEnews

Laura Guimarães Corrêa
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil
Twitter: @lauraguimaraes

Fatma Khan
London School of Economics, England
Twitter: @LSEnews

Linje Manyozo
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia
Twitter: @RMIT

What is One World, One Network‽?

ICA Conference Podcast

Noshir Contractor: The noise you just heard is the sound of the "interrobang." A nonstandard punctuation mark, the interrobang’s appearance is its explanation – an exclamation mark superimposed directly on a question mark. The theme for the 2022 ICA conference – "One world, one network‽" – ends with an interrobang.The symbol simultaneously celebrates and problematizes the "one-ness" in the modern age of global communication. This podcast series features the conference’s six chair members. Each will lead a discussion into the supposed "global village" we live in. In this episode, one of the conference co-chairs, Shakuntala Banerjee explores and critiques this concept from a Global South perspective with a panel of hand-selected guests. Here’s Shakuntala.

Shakuntala Banerjee 01:08
Welcome to this ICA conference themed podcast. We're going to be talking here today with my amazing guests. They are going to introduce themselves. But let me introduce myself. I'm Shakuntala Banerjee. I'm the Professor of Media, Culture and Social Change at the LSE, where I've been for the last 10 years. The recent work that I've been doing looks at online disinformation, and the repercussions for communities who are minoritized and excluded. I was in discussion with my other co chairs, and we were talking about whether the interrobang should actually preface with the question mark or with the exclamation mark. If it’s a question mark, the conference is problematizing. If it's an exclamation mark, it almost is celebrating it. It's an interesting continuation of a debate which has been going on now for two or three decades in media and communication studies about the notion which comes from Marshall McLuhan's notion of a global village. I for one found myself both attracted and repelled. What I'd like to invite you all three to do starting with Laura is just comment a little bit on your gut responses.

Laura Guimaraes Correa 02:24
Well, my name is Laura Guimaraes Correa. I am an associate professor in the social communications department at Universidad de Federal miniaturize which is the Federal University of a large state in Brazil. I hold a PhD in communications and I was a visiting fellow at the LSE, about six years ago. My recent research is intersectionality and communication, race, gender and empowerment in the neoliberal context. I was happy to see the interrogation mark, actually, it shows that at least there is no certainty of this idea that this can be confronted and can be contested, can be denied considering that the white, rich, northern or Western and liberal subject is the reference, right? You're not considering that there are others. I am pro, the interrogation mark and not the exclamation because of that.

Linje Manyozo 03:26
My name is Linje Manyozo, I'm probably more of a development practitioner than a communicator. And I'm based right in the centre of Melbourne at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. I teach in the School of Media and Communication in 2008. I remember, if I'm not mistaken, after the global financial crisis, a group of students at the University of Manchester established what came to be known as the Post-Crash Economics Society, and students from other universities picked up this fight. The center of their argument was that one of the reasons we had experienced the global financial crisis was because the experts couldn't see it. And the reason they could not see it was because our universities and especially the social sciences, have been more shaped by Western social science theory. And the way we teach it, and that includes Media and Communication, it seems as if the rest of the world does not exist at all.

Fatma Khan 04:19
My name is Fatma. I'm a PhD candidate at the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. When I first heard the conference team, the first question in my head was “one network for whom?” And it seemed, for a second it seemed to me like a slogan from a telecommunications company, one world one network, I mean, so I appreciate the question mark and exclamation mark at the end. I was involved in doing fieldwork in India in 2019 in the run up to the elections with the team of researchers, which we were working in two different cities. interview after interview, what we came across was opposition activists complaining that they were being shadow banned on social media, or that they're when they complained on these different platforms against hate speech that they were facing or abuse that they were facing, that the post didn't get flagged down. When we think of all these questions, those that is how I would situate one world, one network.

Shakuntala 05:23
I think we take for granted the idea that all of us belonging to a single community might mean that our humanity is prefaced, that our humanity is the thing which comes to the surface, our commonalities are there. And that community is always a thing, which is a public good. However, in the work that I and several of my students and many of my colleagues have done. Over the past two decades, it's become eminently clear that actually, the world isn't moving in a direction where every group of people can be safely, fairly and justly included in what would be known as a global community. In fact, let's be blunt, settler colonialism still reigns supreme in many parts of the world. And while in some universities, we are having conversations, which make decolonization into a metaphor, actually, what is going on in the ground in many places, is that boots and machine guns are stomping past people's doors. And that things that we thought we had got over, such as the lynching of people from minority faiths, and races in places are now taking over being filmed and put onto the internet as a badge of honor for the far right. So we aren't in any way in a place where we can say that one world is an equal world. Well, that one network is a network which we all equally access.

Linje: 06:53
There is this illusion of a united world existing somewhere, it has never existed, at least for me as a black person in history, the issue of data, especially in development, you have, for example, Shahidi, and other crowdsourcing initiatives, where local people and communities probably there is, you know, election violence, they're taking pictures they're posting these pictures are being posted. The consequence might be you're posting this picture, you might be arrested, the police might use it as evidence, these are ethical concerns with regards to how data is used and kept, whether even the people who are captured in this data, are given the opportunity to understand the implications of using the data, reusing the data in the future. Yes, we can talk about the penetration of the internet and what you know, what wonders that penetration has done, but there are serious ethical concerns that may put lives at risk as well. So for now, let me stop there.

Fatma: 07:48
I would like to talk about a story which happened in India two weeks ago. So we do have an elderly Muslim man being assaulted, became viral. And in the video, His beard was being cut off. And later, he was talking about what had happened to him. And that he was made to say these religious slurs and one of the things that stood out to me in that story was that his attackers also showed him videos of them assaulting other Muslims and said that see, we have already assaulted others and killed other Muslims and nothing has happened to us. So once this video became very popular on social media and circulated two days later, or something, the news that came out was that the the up police, which is there the incident had taken place had filed FIO’s against journalists and independent news outlets and opposition leaders who had shared the tweets talking about it or shared the video of his testimony. News of these incidents are just very, very commonplace almost every day.

Sorry, Laura, did you want to come backon that?

Laura: 08:56
Yeah, yeah, I'm just thinking that this Datafication and surveillance and etc. and technologies like facial recognition, they are usually used against the most vulnerable populations, searchers black community, in the communities in the favelas, but also it's important for some for these people to be connected and to be seen, by the state through technologies, otherwise, they're invisible to policymakers, etc.

Linje: 09:32
Most of the time, we are discussing ourselves and people talk about the ability to treat the ability to do this. The ability to do that we talk about this connectivity consumption, the focus is on how people are using the cell phone. It's good in many places, people are able to tweet and talk about things. The public broadcasters or the community broadcasters would never broadcast. It allows people to exercise that freedom. But at the same time, there are also the other parts that we really focus on. For example, for this cell phone to be produced, how many people have been exploited? How many women have been killed because we know we have all these militias in eastern Congo, killing people looking for minerals to produce the cell phone. So if you're looking at the production process, of the cell phone as a cultural product, you find that it is more oppressive than it liberates people.

Shakuntala 10:25
I mentioned at the beginning that I had some questions about ICA in the past and that I've often wondered, you know, who is it for? And you've asked Fatma, who is the network for and Laura, you have a center, which is made up of primarily black researchers researching racism and the intersection with various other types of inequality. So we might be marginalized. Because we don't work in a large global Norht university, we may be marginalized because we come from an ethnic minority or a religious minority within the global north, we might be marginalized, because we're queer or trans. We might be a working class academic from any part of the globe who has struggled to get into academia, and then doesn't feel comfortable in the wining and dining spaces, or the zoom spaces, have an ICA conference. And we may be a struggling academic who knows that their research is dissenting and might anger or irritate some of the professional academics, the powers that be the intellectual leaders of their time. I want to use also in tribute to Lauren Berlant, who has just passed away very sadly, I want to use the notion from their book, cruel optimism to ask whether perhaps just the very notion of an International Communication Association, which is for all academics, however, they are positioned within the system is actually a form of cruel optimism, it sort of brings us to an impossible, imaginary or which erases ideas about power and precarity, which raises ideas about racism, sexism, and homophobia within the fold of academia. I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts on how a large organization which aims to be an International Communication Association could do better by those of us in marginalized positions. Is it? Is it possible? And if it is possible, what would each of you like to see, Laura, I'll come to you first.

Laura: 12:37
I've been twice a conference twice. And both times, it was in very expensive cities, to zoom one in London and one in San Diego. So first of all, just to be in the cities is hard for someone who's not does not live in the global north, and has a good salary as a teacher, whereas it's called Vietnam University. Even working for a large university in Brazil, I cannot complain much about my salary in Brazilian terms before in dollars or pounds, this would be just too unaffordable. I had funding to go at the time. But anyway, the impression I had when I went there, put in person, just very homogeneous, I felt like a fish out of water there. And, and I'm not a student, I'm not young. It was not just like that in every other conference I've been to. But this as I say, it was very, very clear to me that I was not my place, I did not feel comfortable there was still in the middle of the pandemic in Brazil. Like in India, the problem is not solved in a more symbolic and theoretical way and an institution that wants to be inclusive, has to recognize difference than not see differences as a problem.

Linje: 14:01
The first question we need to ask when we are given the opportunity to talk about an institution and organization is what does this organization stand for? strategic question, who has access to it? I'm not talking about access, like being a member, but people with power because sometimes I've gone to some of these international conferences. It's like a sorority. It's like people who are coming from a particular part of the world political socio political part of the world, come there to meet and talk to themselves to engage with each other. And yes, others can come to listen that there is that kind of, you know, feeling where you feel perhaps a little bit an outsider here. So the question of access is very important, but also the question of participation when these meetings are held, who decides on the outline of these presentations, who is calling for abstracts, who are actually reviewing these abstracts? These are critical processes because there is Oftentimes on implicit bias in terms of the world we read a an abstract, for example, in my opinion, it's a question of challenging the Orthodox discourses that have governed our teaching, govern our research, govern, they will even publish. This is another area we even haven't we even haven't touched the Jones, Western Jones, who is the editor who is on the editorial board. What are the papers that are accepted? What are the justifications given for rejecting certain papers, and defining that if I'm writing about indigenous knowledge, for example, I wouldn't get into most of these journals, even though they call themselves journals of communication. So it's the issue of access the issue of participation. And we also have to talk about indicators, because if you have to transform these institutions, or these spaces, we must have indicators of what success looks like, like like, because otherwise most of the time, there is so much bullshit, or so much Hamburg, where people talk about, oh, we're going to transform etc. They put a few people you know, who look different to smell different to look like me. You're put in certain positions, but you find that you're restricted in terms of the perspectives that can shape your world, you can't, you're given a certain framework, so that we have to have actual indicators. What does transformation look like? This is a very deceptive word, it's a very disempowering word. You know, people have been transformed, what what are we talking about? So it's, I think it's an important time to, to challenge certain things. I like applying the development. Treatment, when I hear about a concept, so for example, if the concept is ICA, International Communication Association, my first question is whose communication? And if you understand the history of Western media and communications, you realize it was Wilbur Schramm, at the center of everything from his, you know, days at Chicago, I think it was, and then at Illinois, establishing the field of communication in the 1940s. That's the kind of communication we are talking about. But even before he established the field of communication, he was working for the American government, in the Office of War Information. So that's, that's a context. That's the kind of communication we begin to talk about. It's a kind of communication that emphasizes the power of technology, to kind of, you know, and it immediately requires us to think about certain research methodologies, theories that we're going to use the way of looking at the world and define that, even the interpretation

Fatma 17:49
My friend and I have a joke, where she says that, you know, these days, you have to be a PhD influencer. And not It's not about being a scholar, but you have to be this influencer, you know, with a social media presence and networking, otherwise, there's no chance of even making it. But actually, I thought I was thinking of the fact that, you know, they are brilliant scholars and thinkers and students and researchers, and people who have been putting all their thinking into practice. I thought I would use this platform to take some of their names today. So people like goldfish shafa Ma, Omar Khalid Khalid selfie, the Pima corridor 16 People like on an Tipton day. So the Sahaba Eduardo Coronavirus, and countless countless others. Sometimes there is a feeling of abandonment by the world that this has been normalized. And that I think that t if tomorrow, you Shaku or I were to be arrested, that you know it is we would be on our own. And so if I had a vision for ICA and I just take a second. So if I could have a vision for ICA and for our discipline, I wish that you know, we would find ways to work in mutual cooperation with different struggles that and, and in to be in relation with the communities that we are connected to beyond, you know, them as research intern, as research participants, and to think of ways to be in solidarity and to work together.

Shakuntala 19:15
Thank you Fatma for reminding us of a political and an ethic of solidarity. Even I heard someone say that we need to be more than just in solidarity, we need to be co-conspirators and co-dissidents with people. And that means that we are putting ourselves at risk. And I think increasingly, the kinds of academic spaces that I navigate and perhaps Linda and Laura also navigate are ones where we are divided not just by class and race and precarity but also by which of us is willing to put our embodied lives or families at risk by doing or saying something in solidarity or in court. coconspirator ship with people who are fighting exactly the kinds of democratic struggles you talked about, if our association cannot bring itself to be in solidarity, not just with Black Lives Matter movements in various different countries, not just with indigenous people who are finding ancestors who have been murdered and who are now buried outside residential schools, but also with the millions of black and brown people who are in the Global South, and the recipients of the military jackboot of the many different regimes, including their own, I think if we can't show that solidarity, we have failed. And so in a way I speak to you, as someone who feels that these kinds of international associations could do much, much more. That's why I'm here, and I don't lend my body or my name or my labor freely, I lend it on a premise that something will change. And when it doesn't, I will fight the association too and that's the way I think maybe we could come to a conclusion today. I'm going to wrap up by thanking my guests, Linje Manyozo, Laura Correa, and Fatma Khan. Thanks so much for being with us today for giving a part of yourself a very strong part of yourself to the podcast. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Noshir Contractor 21:23
One World One Network is sponsored by the Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication at both the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. This podcast series is presented by the International Communication Association in the lead up to the 2022 annual conference in May. For more information about our participants on this episode, as well as our sponsor, please see the show notes. Our producer is Nick Song. Our executive producer is Aldo Diaz Caballero. The theme music is by John Presstone. For more information about our participants on this episode, as well as our sponsor, please see the show notes. Thanks for listening. In the next episode, we will continue exploring the conferences theme from the perspective of the conference’s other co chairs.