John Postill- Media and Nation Building

Postill, J. (2006). Media and Nation Building: How the Iban became Malaysian. New york: Berghahn Books.

Postill’s general point is to show readers how the Malaysian state used a variety of media to integrate Iban into the nation-building project. His cross-comparison between time and space allows his analysis to cross between the two dominant schools of thought (production vs. reception). Postill is actively writing against “imagined communities”. The state’s mission was highly successful and the propaganda became sustainable propaganda. He introduces us to the term ideolect: an Iban remaking of the state ideology through which they make sense of the various media and ultimately their world.

1- How states use modern media to build nations within their allocated territories

3- four foundational media forms common to modern states virtually everywhere, namely state propaganda, writing (literacy), television, and clock-and-calendar time

4- mass media; the aim was to create a ‘literate sophisticated high culture’ that could cope with the demands of economic modernization.

8- influenced by Gramsci and Foucault, they held the view that media producers have no monopoly of power; this is always shared with consumers

Stuart Hall said audiences positioned themselves in regard to mass media ideology: dominant, oppositional, and negotiated.

Moving away from Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Postill writes independent states and “this territorical grid provides the rugged surface through which people, representations, and commodities migrate and circulate. In this section, I wish to siggest, first, that modern indepenednt states are the prime ‘culture areas’ of our age; and second, that a range of media are integral to their formation and maintenance. (15).

17- this book sets out to demonstrate that modern independent states are culture areas with intricate webs of social formations, cultural forms and exchange systems.

18- ideological space is highly uniform and coherent even though media practices are so varied

192- radio was a key factor in state building after the war; this ideological work was reinforced by the spread of state schools and the arrival of television in 1977

193- the malaysian myths and memories of Sarawak Iban are heavily mass mediated…The Iban of Sarawak are also active participants in Malaysia’s ‘mass public culture’ , which encompasses political rallies, music concerts, football matches, television shows, ethnic festivals, and countless other events and institutions.

194- In a world of state-centric mass cultures, people everywhere routinely use media to extend their cultural engagements well beyond their physical surroundings.

During crises, people met both on the media and face-to-face.

The biographical paths of Saribas Iban television sets show that these media artifacts are caught up in a nationwide ‘system of commensurate differences’.

195- [television] provides longhouse Iban with audivisual information on the financial (mis)fortunes of urban Malay families through news reports and telvisiom dramas.

Islam is the great divide between indigenous peoples.

196- 1) the need to consider the both the diffusion and appropriation of media forms; 2) nationstates are not as well understood as imagined communities but as culture areas hosting open networks of social formations (state agencies, private firms, kin groups, etc, cultural forms (language, media, law, sport, etc.) , and echange systems; 3) not only should we study national identity in relation to a wider field of identity production that encompasses ethnicity, gender, age, occupation, etc, but also media in relation to other media.

197- for example, it appears that radio, visual and audiovisual media are more amenable to state-sponsored celebrations of ‘tolerable difference’ than print media.




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