Module 10: Cunningham

For each of the following quotes from the assigned essay, interpret and summarize the quote in your own words—in about two to three sentences in length.

Stuart Cunningham, “Popular Media as Public ‘Sphericules’ for Diasporic Communities,” International Journal of Cultural Studies 4, no. 2 (June 2001): 131–47.

  1. Todd Gitlin has posed the question as to whether we can continue to speak of the ideal of the public sphere as an increasingly complex, poly-ethnic, communications-saturated series of societies develop around the world. Rather, what might be emerging are numerous public “sphericules”: “does it not look as though the public sphere, in falling, has shattered into a scatter of globules, like mercury?” (133).
  2. It follows that ethno-specific public sphericules are not congruent with international taste cultures borne by a homogenizing global media culture. For diasporic groupings were parts of states, nations and polities and much of the diasporic polity is about the process of remembering, positioning and, by no means least, constructing business opportunities around these pre-diasporic states and/or nations (136).
  3. The Bengali diaspora, argues Ray, frames its cultural life around the high culture of the past, which has become a “fossilized” taste culture (2000: 143). 
In startling contrast to the Fiji Indian community, which is by far the highest consumer of Hindi films, for the Indian Bengalis, Indian-sourced film and video is of little interest and is even the subject of active disparagement (145).
  4. As a result, second-generation Fiji Indians in their twice-displaced settings of Sydney, Auckland or Vancouver have developed a cultural platform that, although not counter-hegemonic, is markedly different from their western host cultures. In contrast, “the emphasis of the first generation Indian Bengali diaspora on aestheticized cultural forms of the past offers to second generation very little in terms of a home country popular youth culture with which they can identify” (Ray, 2000: 145) (146).