Circuits of Visibility

Circuits of Visibility: Gender and Transnational Media Cultures

Edited by Radha Sarma Hegde
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 325
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  • Book Info
    Circuits of Visibility
    Book Description:

    Circuits of Visibility explores transnational media environments as pathways to understand the gendered constructions and contradictions that underwrite globalization. Tracking the ways in which gendered subjects are produced and defined in transnationally networked, media saturated environments, Circuits of Visibility presents sixteen essays that collectively advance a discussion about sexual politics, media, technology, and globalization. Covering the internet, television, books, telecommunications, newspapers, and activist media work, the volume directs focused attention to the ways in which gender and sexuality issues are constructed and mobilized across the globe. Contributors' essays span diverse global sites from Myanmar and Morocco to the Balkans, France, U.S., and China, and cover an extensive terrain from consumption, aesthetics and whiteness to masculinity, transnational labor, and cultural citizenship. Circuits of Visibility initiates a necessary conversation and political critique about the mediated global terrain on which sexuality is defined, performed, regulated, made visible, and experienced.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4468-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Radha S. Hegde

    The past decade has seen an internationalization of cultural studies scholarship and an emerging interest in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of globalization. Recent developments on the world stage, such as the global economic crisis, political violence, urban terror, militarization, and migrant flows, all reveal the complex interplay between economic, cultural, and political processes. Although issues of gender and sexuality are woven into these exigencies, the manner in which they come into public view demands critical attention.Circuits of Visibilityis an attempt to create an intellectual space in order to engage with the gendered politics of visibility in the...

  5. PART I: Configuring Visibilities
    • 1 Seeing Princess Salma: Transparency and Transnational Intimacies
      (pp. 21-34)
      Susan Ossman

      In raising questions of how spaces of global media shape feminine visibility we find ourselves entangled in discussions about modernity and transparency that have remained lively for several decades. Women’s exposure to the eyes of particular men, or of random publics, and concerns about what their clothing covers or what it reveals have often been used to demonstrate the position of entire societies or classes or families with respect to ideals of equality and liberation. Yet at the same time as women alter their skirts in sync with international fashion, their sartorial choices are also asked to stand for national...

    • 2 Constructing Transnational Divas: Gendered Productions of Balkan Turbo-folk Music
      (pp. 35-52)
      Zala Volčič and Karmen Erjavec

      The same year in which former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was on trial for war crimes at The Hague, the wife of one of his former henchmen held a concert in the Serbian part of Bosnia—a country deeply scarred by the violence of the 1990s. Ceca, a Balkan superstar in her own right, a well-known Serbian nationalist, and by that time a widow, took the opportunity to showcase “turbofolk” music along with her unique blend of performance and politics. In the wake of the global censure of Serbia, Ceca incited the crowd’s virulent opposition to the international court and...

    • 3 The Gendered Face of Latinidad: Global Circulation of Hybridity
      (pp. 53-67)
      Angharad N. Valdivia

      This chapter examines the gendered face of Latinidad as it is transported, manipulated, and articulated by popular media networks under the contemporary conditions of globality.Latinidad,the process of being, becoming, and/or performing belonging within a Latina/o diaspora, challenges many popular and academic categories of ethnicity, location, and culture. As a cultural and conceptual framework, Latinidad enables a more nuanced reading of the disjuncture between the lived realities and commodified constructions of hybridity. Focusing on three sites of mobile popular culture—girl culture, global television, and celebrity bodies—I explore how gender and hybrid cultures of Latina/os are reproduced and...

    • 4 E-Race-ing Color: Gender and Transnational Visual Economies of Beauty in India
      (pp. 68-86)
      Radhika Parameswaran

      Pond’s medicalized and mystical representation of the Indian female body in this news release as filled with dark poison that can be extracted in order to restore white purity belongs in a larger constellation of proliferating discourses on beauty in globalizing India. Extending Pond’s equation of whitening with purifying toNewsweek’s March 2006 cover portrait, a slim and light-skinned Padma Lakshmi (international supermodel and celebrity chef ) captures the glowing purity of “The New India,” a promising emerging-market nation that is detoxifying itself of the poison of an undesirable socialist “third world” past. Bathed in golden yellow light, Padma Lakshmi’s...

  6. PART II: Contesting Ideologies
    • 5 Gendered Blueprints: Transnational Masculinities in Muslim Televangelist Cultures
      (pp. 89-102)
      Nabil Echchaibi

      The tragic shooting in the Texas military base of Fort Hood has reanimated an extant post-9/11 debate about Muslim men as culturally confused, excessively pious, and intrinsically violent. American media coverage initially—and briefly—steered explanations in their conflicted attempt to avoid anti-Muslim bigotry, but a linear link between Muslim men and ideologically induced violence was clearly the underlying subtext informing much of the ensuing coverage of this incident. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Muslim Palestinian American behind the shooting rampage, readily became the subject of disjointed and muddled speculations by pundits and journalists linking him to al-Qaeda and questioning...

    • 6 Transnational Media Wars over Sex Trafficking: Abolishing the “New Slave Trade” or the New Nativism?
      (pp. 103-123)
      Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel

      Government websites, television, films, documentaries, news channels, and other media depictions equate sex trafficking with what is popularly labeled the “New Slave Trade.” While various political parties and organizations are divided over how to address migration, the branding of sex trafficking as modern-day slavery strategically galvanizes these very same politically divergent constituencies.¹ Bipartisan support and popular consensus against trafficking is evident in the outpour of funds for this cause. The administration of George W. Bush announced that from 2000 to 2008, the federal government spent $295 million in tax dollars toward the fight against sex trafficking in the United States...

    • 7 “Recycling” Heroines in France: Coutured Identities and Invisible Transitions
      (pp. 124-139)
      Julie Thomas

      Museum exhibitions often present significant, if rarely analyzed, examples of framing group identities and masking cultural divides by presenting culturally hegemonic definitions of identity. In the contemporary mediated space of the museum, technologies of display may be manipulated in service to a variety of goals: mediation between cultures, naturalization of the nation, presentation of difference as spectacle, or promotion of cultural diversity. In a critique of museums, Tony Bennett argues that museums are civic laboratories where distinctive forms of cultural objecthood are produced and social relations regulated. They are “machineries implicated in the shaping of civic capacities.”¹ Since museums, as...

    • 8 Celebrity Travels: Media Spectacles and the Construction of a Transnational Politics of Care
      (pp. 140-156)
      Spring-Serenity Duvall

      A long history of celebrity involvement in politics and humanitarian efforts has contributed to the production ofcelebrity activismas an influential media phenomenon that now permeates popular culture. Such A-list celebrities as Bono, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, David Beckham, Brad Pitt, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen, and Robert Redford are well recognized for creating almost second careers out of political and social activism.¹ The travels of Western celebrities to third world spaces on humanitarian and awareness-raising campaigns generate compelling narratives in mainstream U.S. media. Media coverage of actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Council on Refugees Angelina Jolie...

  7. PART III: Capital Trails
    • 9 Objects of Knowledge, Subjects of Consumption: Persian Carpets and the Gendered Politics of Transnational Knowledge
      (pp. 159-177)
      Minoo Moallem

      Connoisseur books, as a genre of knowledge production, have been crucial sites for the formation and transformation of material culture and for the production of racial and gendered differences, especially in the modern structure of empire. The genre has led to the creation of a decontextualized knowledge in which commodities such as the Persian carpet are disconnected from the circuits of labor and complex hybrid trajectories of cultural meaning. This chapter examines the ways in which connoisseur books have mediated and mediatized Oriental carpets in general and the Persian carpet in particular as a commodity. Connoisseur discourses have invested in...

    • 10 Spaces of Exception: Violence, Technology, and the Transgressive Gendered Body in India’s Global Call Centers
      (pp. 178-195)
      Radha S. Hegde

      As India defines its place in the global economy as the high-tech solution center for business operations, new forms of work and work environments have emerged in the communication and information-technology sectors. These new work environments have radically altered the social and cultural experiences of everyday life. The outsourcing phenomenon, which casts India simultaneously as a threat, a cost-saving option, and an irritant, has occupied a spectral presence in the Western imaginary. However, unraveling on the ground is a complex transnational narrative about the neoliberal framing of flexible work, enabled by the presence of new forms of mediated connectivity. The...

    • 11 Maid as Metaphor: Dagongmei and a New Pathway to Chinese Transnational Capital
      (pp. 196-211)
      Wanning Sun

      The World,Jia Zhangke’s poignantly titled and widely acclaimed film, is set on the rural outskirts of Beijing in a theme park studded with replicas of iconic global tourist destinations such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the White House. There, visitors, many of whom are wide-eyed Chinese villagers visiting Beijing for the first time, vicariously experience the exotic West. To authenticate the experience, the theme park employs rural migrants to move around the theme park wearing exotic costumes. Visitors can also simulate transnational mobility by boarding a defunct airplane complete with a crew also played by rural migrants....

    • 12 Dial “C” for Culture: Telecommunications, Gender, and the Filipino Transnational Migrant Market
      (pp. 212-228)
      Jan Maghinay Padios

      In recent decades, the transnational practices that tie migrants and immigrants to their families and friends “back home”—such as calling, visiting, and sending care packages and money—have become increasingly significant sources of profit for media and telecommunications corporations, airlines, shipping companies, and remittance centers.¹ Returns from the latter alone, for example, reached nearly fifteen billion dollars in 2007.² As more and more people from the Global South leave families to work abroad, what advertisers sometimes refer to as “cross-border” relationships have become more visible to corporate actors, who, in turn, search for ways to make their services and...

  8. PART IV: Technologies of Control
    • 13 Digital Cosmopolitanisms: The Gendered Visual Culture of Human Rights Activism
      (pp. 231-249)
      Sujata Moorti

      In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Internet has become the preeminent medium from which international human rights campaigns have been publicized. Activists from around the world—whether it is Tibet, the Sudan, Iran, or Iraq—have increasingly turned to YouTube or independent websites such as the Hub to upload first-person accounts of human rights violations. These images have drawn international attention to “hot spots” of violation and local forms of activism that may have otherwise flown below the global media radar. Indeed, many human rights organizations now consider the Internet as the primary venue for exposing human...

    • 14 Doing Cultural Citizenship in the Global Media Hub: Illiberal Pragmatics and Lesbian Consumption Practices in Singapore
      (pp. 250-267)
      Audrey Yue

      The recent development of a global media hub in Singapore has enabled the emergence of a queer public culture despite the illegality of homosexuality. Statefunded gay films, subsidized theater plays, Internet portals, and nightclubs are part of the new spaces and practices that have been direct beneficiaries of this policy initiative. In a city-state such as Singapore, cultural citizenship is contested through the way sexuality functions as a technology for the creative economy. While the government has mobilized sexuality as a policy tool to promote cultural liberalization, gays and lesbians have also seized on these practices to claim their right...

    • 15 Gendering Cyberspace: Transnational Mappings and Uyghur Diasporic Politics
      (pp. 268-283)
      Saskia Witteborn

      Positioning herself as a compassionate “Mother of the Nation,” Rebiya Kadeer has emerged as a central figure in the transnational advocacy campaigns of the diasporic Uyghurs—a Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim minority community from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China.² Her words and message, like the one quoted in the epigraph, from her biography, are displayed on various Internet websites and social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook, projecting Kadeer as a spokesperson and human rights activist for the Uyghur people. Kadeer’s maternal image serves as a representational counterpoint at a time when diasporic Uyghurs have become...

    • 16 Ladies and Gentlemen, Boyahs and Girls: Uploading Transnational Queer Subjectivities in the United Arab Emirates
      (pp. 284-302)
      Noor Al-Qasimi

      In recent years the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has witnessed multiple transgressive discourses pertaining to heteronormative structures of sexuality, with cybertechnology serving as a primary platform for the enactments of subaltern sexual subjectivities. In this chapter, I explore how state apparatuses and technologies of control both shape and govern the expression of queer subjectivities in cyberspace.¹ As a result of intense economic restructuring, regional integration, and technological growth, the UAE has garnered increasing global prominence as a pioneering model for post-oil development over the past decade.² Despite steps toward unification of the seven original “Trucial States” over the past forty...

  9. About the Contributors
    (pp. 303-308)
  10. Index
    (pp. 309-317)