The anthropology of media and the question of ethnic and religious pluralism

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Author:
Patrick Eisenlohr Utrecht University Department of Cultural Anthropology
Heidelberglaan 2
PO Box 80140
3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
 p.eisenlohr@uu.nl

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This essay discusses anthropological approaches to the study of media interacting with contexts of ethnic and religious diversity. The main argument is that not only issues of access to and exclusion from public spheres are relevant for an understanding of media and pluralism. Background assumptions and ideologies about media technologies and their functioning also require more comparative analysis, as they impact public spheres and claims to authority and authenticity that ultimately produce and shape scenarios of ethnic and religious diversity. This additional dimension of diversity in the question of media and ethnic and religious pluralism is particularly apparent in crises of political and religious mediation. The latter often result in desires to bypass established forms of political and religious mediation that are in turn often projected on new media technologies.

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