Sunday, October 31, 2004

Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity (Sana)

Sana Haque

Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity
• By: David Morley
• Publisher: London ; New York : Routledge, 2000.
• ISBN: 0415157641 041515765X

Author and Text:

David Morley is a professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. He has collaborated with Stuart Hall and worked at the University of Birmingham's Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in the 1970s. His research interests include audience reception of media messages, cultural constructions of "Home" and "Nation", and the impact of globalizing trends on traditional national and domestic spaces.

This book is an interdisciplinary look at the complex constructions of both "home" territories (or zones of safety) and the "unheimlich" or "uncanny" spaces of the unfamiliar, at the macro (Nation) and micro (Family) level. It examines how these are impacted by the new spaces and routes of communication and forms of community engendered by globalization and new technologies. It also considers the impact of the tenacity of "rootedness" and Home/Nation spaces in the flux of the postmodern era.

Challenge of understanding the de-territorializing culture of postmodernity in the context of enduring and resurgent urges towards stability and "rootedness".

Chapter 1: Ideas of Home
Historical background on the meaning of "home" as both physical space and rhetorical territory. Increasing historical trend towards privacy and isolation as components of the ideal home.

Chapter 2: Heimat, Modernity, and Exile
Nation as magnified version of the family. Site for exclusion and boundary-making. Rootlessness as disorder. Exile as physical and temporal dislocation.

Chapter 3: The Gender of Home
Gendered constructions of "home" as sedentary feminine space. Male anxieties surrounding the constrictive space of home. Domesticity and dirt.

Chapter 4: At Home with the Media
Central place of TV in the modern home. Media's construction of domestic routine. Blurring of boundary between inside and outside - cyberspace.

Chapter 5: Broadcasting and the Construction of the National Family
Role of national broadcasting in construction of national iconography. Shows and audiences - symbolic comfort zones. Multiple and fragmented public spheres.

Chapter 6: The Media, the City and the Suburbs: Urban and Virtual Geographies of Exclusion
Suburbs as models for "home" - conflict avoidance and absence of strangers. Suburban space as "privatised, feminine, consumerized". "Ecology of fear”.

Chapter 7: Media, Mobility, and Migrancy
Mobile privatization. Media encounters with alterity - race/immigration. Circulation of both media and viewers. Migrants as scapegoats.

Chapter 8: Postmodern, Virtual and Cybernetic Geographies
Communications technologies - new modes of mobility. Bifocal vision (global and local). Homes with permeable boundaries. Tourists vs. vagabonds.

Chapter 9: Borders and Belongings: Strangers and Foreigners
Question of borders in the contemporary world. Post-modern nomads vs. Modern pilgrims. Breakdown of stable "home" territories. Alien threats at the margins.

Chapter 10: Cosmopolitics: Boundary, Hybridity and Identity
Immigrants as "homeless". Exoticization of travel. The Western/masculine cosmopolitan figure. Cities as sites for forced confrontations.

Chapter 11: Postmodernism, Post-structuralism and the Politics of Difference: at home in Europe?
Revival of ethnocentrism. Xenophobia and cultural difference. Identity politics. Flexible construction of community. Europe and immigration tensions.

Author's Stated Aims: "to open up the analysis of... rootedness, exile, diaspora, displacement, connectedness and/or mobility" as well as "to offer an analysis of the construction of national (or pan-national) identities... grounded in an understanding of the (domestic) micro-processes through which the smaller units" of that community are constituted in turn. He seeks to articulate the different discourses that run through a particular conceptual space (in this case, that of "home") in a multidisciplinary perspective.

Key Words/Terms:

Heimat (symbolic Homeland, emotive territory of belonging)
Fremde (alterity and the foreign)
Heimlich (belonging to the household, familiar) / Unheimlich (uncanny, unfamiliar)
Geographical "monogamy" and "promiscuity"
Mobile privatization (bubble of safety)
Umwelt (populated by "consociates") / Mitwelt (larger world of contemporaries)
Power-geometry (levels of access to mobility/connectedness).

Affiliated Discourses & Historical/Cultural Context:
Interdisciplinary Studies, Birmingham School of Cultural Studies, Media and Communication Studies, Cultural Geography

This is an intriguing multidisciplinary text that pulls together various sources of critical thought on how representation and imagery construct the Other and the familiar. It also highlights issues relating to the impact of media on everyday life in both the domestic and national spheres. Due to the breadth of its scope, there are analytical points that could use further study and illustration, including a closer study of the concept of the "foreign" and of "rootlessness" as the oppositional categories to those of "home" and "rootedness" (the central focus here).