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The South Asian-Canadian media’s resistance to gender and cultural stereotyping Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra and Paul Fontaine “Either you are represented by power or, in the agential casting of the question, you take power and represent yourself” (Lily Cho, 2010, p. 63) Coverage of violence against women by the mainstream media has contributed to the gender and cultural stereotyping of South Asians in Canada, resulting in racism and cultural discrimination (Thobani, 2007: Jiwani, 2006). In the mainstream reportage of violence involving members of the South Asian diaspora, particularly the Punjabi communities in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, one can see the reification of South Asian cultures, emphasized in attempts to present members of that cultural community as backward and in need of outside intervention. In an attempt to push back against such assertions, this chapter argues that the South Asian-Canadian press in B.C. serves to de-link South Asian cultural practice from associations with violence. This de-linking manifests itself in the South Asian press’ coverage of spousal abuse. We argue that the association of violence with minority groups in mainstream news coverage is in itself an act of symbolic violence and moves the focus away from broader societal problems that contribute to domestic violence in Canada. While we will be using the designation, ‘South Asian-Canadian’ throughout the chapter, it will at times be interspersed with ‘Punjabi-Canadian,’ because of the history of migration from the Punjab to British Columbia has led to a large Punjabi-Canadian diaspora in B.C. (Buchignani et al., 1985: Tatla, 1999). Exploring the cultural diversity of the South Asian-Canadian population is beyond the scope of this chapter, but, by using both terms we acknowledge the cultural complexity of B.C.’s South Asian populations, while at the same time attending to the ways in which Punjabi-Canadians are connected – either as producers or as target audiences – to the area’s diasporic news content. This exploration includes reference to the depictions of Punjabi masculinity in the mainstream press. We argue that such representations mark the South Asian male body as a site of violence, and that these representations have been established in the mainstream press over the long history of Punjabi settlement in the province. We suggest that there’s a different application of ethnic identifiers to different groups in news representations of violence. One need only look to the hyphen, commonly used to denote cultural identification in mainstream coverage of gender violence within visible minority communities. Not so common in the mainstream news is mention of ‘Scottish-Canadian’ men involved in cases of family violence. It is within this milieu that a number of South Asian news outlets operate and maintain audiences and advertisers for both print and radio at a time when many news outlets in Canada suffer from lack of revenue generation. This chapter attends to the gap in understanding between how the South Asian community describes itself when the national community, as represented in the mainstream media, constantly defines that community within a cultural framework, attributing actions predominantly to cultural backgrounds. This gap will manifest itself in three case studies which point to efforts on the part of two South Asian news outlets (The Link and The Indo-Canadian Voice) to complicate the mainstream press’s continued application of a cultural framework to the issue of spousal abuse. More specifically, these newspapers introduce structures of sexism as key factors in domestic violence. More broadly, this chapter addresses a lack of scholarship focusing on South Asian media outlets, particularly with regard to representations of gender violence. We look to scholars who have laid the groundwork for discussing the negative representations of visible minorities in Canada (Jiwani, 2006: Indra, 1979) before moving to a discussion of the coverage of the 2006 murders of Manjit Panghali and Navreet Kaur Waraich, and the violent assault of Gurjeet Kaur Ghuman. The case studies make evident the different approaches to the reportage of family violence between the South Asian outlets and the mainstream coverage of the time. Following the case studies, we discuss the current state of the South Asian-Canadian media, focusing on the self-description of the role(s) of Punjabi press in covering issues of domestic violence by the editors we interviewed. As well, we include a discussion of the work being done by CKYE-FM – referred to in print and on air as Red FM. The broadcaster has tremendous appeal within B.C.’s news market and has largely been able to appeal to the variety of Punjabi diasporic experiences and identities. In broadening our chapter’s focus to include a discussion of perceived audiences and editorial decision-making, the hope is that readers can better grasp the ways in which Punjabi media attempts to remedy the symbolic violence perpetrated through negative media discourses. Our work draws on the literatures on diasporic journalism and diasporic counterpublics, which emphasizes that while such media outlets are spaces in which diasporic groups can coordinate and push back against negative representation in the mainstream press, they are also places where members of the diasporic group participate in conversations with members of their cultural community as well as with other groups in the communities in which they operate. We locate this space in the coverage of domestic violence in B.C. and the aim of this article is to draw out the complexities of cultural representation, to make evident the frailty inherent in attempts to place diasporic communities within cultural frameworks. Coverage of visible minorities in the Canadian press Scholars have found that the mainstream media takes a problematic approach to stories about gender violence in minority groups. These stories tend to infer that cultural norms and practices are responsible for domestic violence in immigrant communities. Deferring to narratives about cultural culpability skews the lives of immigrant women, and also neglects the broader reality of domestic violence in Canada. Jiwani argues that coverage of violence by visible minorities alternatively serves the purpose of contrasting the “so-called primitive” culture of the visible minority with the “progressive and egalitarian” West. The result of such coverage, according to Thobani (2006) is that, “the West is seen as being devoid of patriarchal institutions and norms, and free of any form of gender-based violence. The Others are constructed as being backward and traditional, oppressing their women and in stereotypical ways as imagined by the West” (p. 92). As in the coverage of domestic violence within South Asian-Canadian communities, South Asian, and specifically Punjabi and Sikh masculinity have been portrayed as inherently violent within the mainstream Canadian press. The mainstream representations of South Asian masculinity contribute to the discourse of multiculturalism, which Thobani explains “marks non-western cultures as more patriarchal and backward than the West, while it simultaneously pressures immigrant men to conform to significantly strengthened masculinist codes of behaviour in the name of cultural authenticity” (p. 166). Representations of “backward” South Asians in Canada are recurrent in the mainstream press coverage of issues concerning those cultural communities. For example, in her critical discourse analysis, Doreen Indra (1979) looks at Vancouver mainstream print coverage of the South Asian community from the early 1900s to 1976, where she finds a pattern of negative representation in which South Asians are portrayed as “being a group who were very quick to resort to physical violence in order to settle their affairs,” (1979: p. 174). More recent work by Henry and Tator also concludes that Sikhs have historically been depicted negatively in the Canadian press. They write: “press coverage of the issues of concern to this community is sensationalized, and Sikhs are commonly depicted as militants, as terrorists, and as disposed to violence” (2002, p. 45). These negative representations of South Asian men, as well as the representation of South Asian women as passive victims serve to assert the dominant culture as the norm (Mahtani, 2008). Critiquing the stereotyping of South Asian men in Canada, Walton-Roberts (1998) writes: “Singular categorizations aid in the creation and circulation of negative stereotypes, and ultimately lend to the construction of identities based on ‘taken for granted’ and assumed characteristics” (p. 319). A trend of depicting South Asian men as violent is precisely this kind of singularity that fails to account for the myriad of ways that diasporic cultural identities are negotiated. This chapter’s project is indebted to the above work, which aims to expose and destabilize the cultural pigeonholing of visible minority groups, particularly in the Canadian context, as well as the academic and popular work documenting the efforts by diasporic journalism outlets to present a more nuanced set of opinions and stories than those found in the mainstream media outlets. Diasporic spaces of resistance This chapter has been inspired by recent work on diasporic counterpublic and more generally scholarship that draws distinctions and examines contingencies between old and new diasporas (Cho, 2010). In her book, Eating Chinese: Culture on the Menu in Small Town Canada, Lily Cho argues that the point of diasporic counterpublics is to “articulate a distinct space of relation despite the horizons marked out by the dominant culture” (p. 114). Cho puts forward the small town Chinese restaurant as a space where dominant narratives of cultural decline and authenticity are contested, and where diasporic menus complicate the notion of a Canadian cuisine. The Chinese restaurants’ menu and the space of the restaurant is the result of the relationships formed between members of the Chinese diaspora and the patrons at the restaurants. As well, Cho reads resistance in the restaurants, resistance that represents “ the kinds of strategies and negotiations that might be at work in negotiating the racism of the everyday” (Cho, p. 78) In a similar fashion, we locate diasporic counterpublics in the address of the South Asian news outlets, operating within framework of Canadian news while attempting to serve distinct cultural communities. They reflect, not only connections to a cultural homeland, but investments in Canadian policy and public opinion. In the reporting of the tragic violence perpetrated against three Indo-Canadian women, The Link and The Voice present a varied look into the issue of domestic abuse in Canada. Their approaches complicate the view that domestic abuse is a South Asian-Canadian problem, and instead broadens the issue to include all Canadians. Along with the analysis of the news coverage of the three cases of family violence, this chapter includes interviews with the editors at a number of South Asian media outlets. Both the analysis and the interviews aim to provide an understanding of how members of South Asian communities in B.C. define and deconstruct themselves through their own media representations. It is important at this point to consider the particularities of Vancouver and it’s surrounding communities, notably Surrey, where both The Link and The Voice are headquartered, in terms of their cultural makeup. Our understanding of diaspora certainly doesn’t negate the relationship – emotional, spiritual, economic – to a cultural homeland, but it insists the processes that bring about relationships and practices in the countries of settlement are equally important. Walton-Roberts (1998) writes about the cultural dynamics at play in the city: “Within Surrey, ethnically coded spaces of commerce and
Answered 7 days AfterSep 29, 2022

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Rachit answered on Oct 07 2022
23 Votes
The first comment that I would like to make is on the lines of differentiation amongst the Canadian citizens. 21.5% of overall population in Canada is of immigrants and instead of identifying as a South Asian Diaspora, it should be an inclusive statement like a “certain section of society featuring South Asian Diaspora” will give more inclusiveness to the people as pointing them to be a direct reference to South Asian D
iaspora will give a vibe of “Not belonging to the land” which Canadian governments doesn’t appreciate. The other important point to note is use of words like “Backwards” and “Outside Intervention”. The violence could be a nation spread issue and could have had different reasons and motivation. Calling a particular community “Backwards” basis the history of spouse abuse may not be a right segment as this sect of citizens had contributed to the significant growth of Canadian economics. The Canadian Journal of Communication strictly condemns use of any language that identifies and create a gap between the section of society. The words like “Outside Help” relates to another class difference where a person with a higher influence will be intermediating between these people to stop the issue. Instead, the edit could have been
“In the mainstream reportage of violence involving members of the certain section of society resembling South Asian diaspora, particularly the Punjabi communities in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, one can see the reification of South Asian cultures, emphasized in attempts to present members of that cultural community in a bad light and in need of suitable counselling. ”
My Second comments come around the direct linking of any “South Asian-Canadian” to “Punjabi-Canadian”. This would be a sign of disrespect to a community and will create a root cause for a racial discrimination against any Punjabi-Canadian going forward and a large chunk of migrants from Punjab could not be the only reason to resonate every South Asian-Canadian to Punjabi-Canadian. This differentiation goes against the inclusiveness of the overall section of society and hence should not be used as per Canadian Journal of communication. The edit could have been below
‘South Asian-Canadian’ throughout the chapter, it will at times be interspersed with ‘Punjabi-Canadian,’ because of prevalence of the Punjabi Language in British Columbia as large chunk of migration from South-Asian is based out of Punjab or Punjabi speaking people thereby forming large Punjabi-Canadian diaspora in B.C. (Buchignani et al., 1985: Tatla, 1999)”
My third comments come from the fact that when a larger chunk of B.C is a South-Asian Diaspora, then all the events that relate to people would happen around then. Why is author trying to paint them in bad light of “Producer or target audience of region’s news”. content”. Depicting Male body being masculine, and a site of violence reflects the bias in the mind of author who is either thinks them of goon or a symbol of violence. This reference is not right as per Canadian Journal of Communication as abe
ation of events cannot measure entire section of society with the same yardstick.
I agree with the author that same style of news should not be differentiated as Mainstream and Non-Mainstream just because of the impression it receives from the reader. I agree to the fact that “Bird of Feather Flock Together” hold true to an extent where people would relate to their peers or friends of same section with interest than an unknown identity. The Newspaper is a highly competitive business which needs revenue to sustain and with the “Right Of Press” and use “Freedom Of Creativity”, Newspaper can place same news at different sections to maintain the interest of the reader.
My Fourth comment come from the fact on the use of words like “Remedy”. The author believes that Punjabi-Canadian would speak in public to counter the effect of the news of violence as “Remedy” is again presented in the bad light. Canadian Journal of Communication has a clear fact that every individual has a right to present their opinion and Media Trails should not be a practise prevailing while discussing serious issues. The wrong notion by mainstream media to highlight stories about gender violence in problematic approach creates a wrong impression in the mind of reader. The domestic violence could of national issue and needs a discussion in a
oader light with Human Welfare Department to involved but showing a gender violence of minority group in a problematic way again take the...

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