Learning about the world of multiple cinemas

MEDIA: Feeding the imagination, desires, and emotions of increasingly mobile and displaced lives, transnational media landscapes take shape.

Melita Zajc
Melita Zajc is a media anthropologist and philosopher. Regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: September 3, 2019
Mediascapes. Pratiche dell'immagine e antropologia culturale
Author: Ivan Bargna
Meltemi Editore, Italy

For more than one hundred years, the cinema of the global north was considered the norm with all other uses treated as particular cases of «ethnographic» film. This view changed gradually within the context of a broader shift associated with the «mediascape» context – a word coined by Arjun Appadurai in order to simultaneously denote media, as well as the world created from it. The idea of «mediascape» indicated the importance of our visual environments, and simultaneously highlighted the fluid and fragmented nature of cultures as a result of intensifying global flows. Today, the climate crisis made us aware that the world is one and «we are all on the same boat». But the rising hostility towards those coming to Europe to save their lives on real – not figural boats – indicates that even in Europe, the once proverbial bastion of multiculturalism, respect for cultural diversity is at risk of being forgotten. Thus, it is important to understand that our one global world is composed of a plentitude of cultures, fluid, fragmented and diverse, and that cinema is part of this plentitude. This is the goal of Mediascapes, a book edited by Ivan Bargna, an Italian anthropologist, specialized in media and the arts, professor at the prestigious Italian Universities Bicocca and Bocconi in Milan, art curator, and ethnographer who conducts research in the Cameroon Grassfields.

A net of interactions

Mediation is not marginal or secondary in relation to a reality accessible in its immediacy – the reality is always already mediated. What we consider real is constructed in a net of interactions between various media, old and new, familiar and foreign. Thus, claims Bargna in his introduction, understanding cultural diversity requires that we pay attention to the processes by which different social formations produce and reproduce themselves, creating a proper media landscape and participating in the global mediascape. The contributions in the book investigate how the daily planetary flow of image, video, film, and television fictions are locally remodeled and re-mediated with political, social and personal strategies.

Diverse “souths” of the world are not limited to passively consume what has been produced elsewhere but …

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