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Research projects

The Politics of Place. Ethnicity and Class in Media Representations of Indigenous and Mobile Minorities

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Indigenous peoples are often ascribed particular status due to their longstanding connection to a specific place (or argue for such status due to such reasons). Traditionally mobile minorities such as travelers in the UK or Roma people in the European context are however generally not ascribed similar status, even though they may be recognized as official minorities. In this project I explore discourses about indigenous and traditionally mobile minorities in media representations and analyze specifically the politics of place. Place is here taken as a nodal point, an "empty" signifier around which other signs, such as rights and spirituality, are organized. Linguistic and visual expressions of place in media representations are related mainly to ethnicity and class in the analysis, but the examination is open also for other constituting aspects. Theoretically the project is influenced by communication geography, identity politics theory, intersectionality theory and globalization theory (the tension local-national-transnational). Methodologically discourse theory is employed, after a basic quantitative mapping has been conducted. The research material consists of online newspapers (including online newspaper video features), both popular and elite newspapers, from several countries. One case study is focused on the controversy surrounding the forced move of a settled traveling community in the UK in 2011 (in this case they were not granted the rights to the place where they lived). Another case study is focused on Sami people in the Nordic countries and Russia (transnational people with indigenous status and - often contested - rights to local/national places, and with a nomadic history). A third case study focused on Roma people in Europe might be added.

The aim is to increase the knowledge about the (identity) politics that is employed in relation to indigenous and traditionally mobile minorities in society and specifically in the media, and more particularly to increase the knowledge about the meaning of place, as well as ethnicity and class, in this context.