Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Communicating Community

Radio is a salient, communication tool that has the power to spread a message across vast distances thus representing the inherent ability to transcend certain boundaries or barriers in   asserting ones voice or opinion to the masses.  The radio is effective at proliferating news and instrumental in creating an informed community with an enhanced awareness of their rights and wider surroundings. I will use examples from two case studies, the film CBQM as well as the discussion on women’s radio programming in Guatemala to present examples which assert that the radio is able to both reflect the nature of a community it serves as well as create community.  
Women’s radio programming in Guatemala is a salient example of how radio both reflects the nature of the community it serves and creates community.   The women’s radio programming exemplifies how the radio can be used as a resistance tool that may enhance and facilitate a strong common bond among a group of individuals facing adversity, and thus form community based on a sense of bounded solidarity premised on common values, experiences, beliefs and goals. The radio serves as a protective space where one can say anything, enabling libratory, agency enhancing benefits for women able to express their thoughts and opinions in a safe and private space asserting, “I am woman, I have a word.” In Guatemala, women may face oppression in society and restriction in regards to having the freedom to speak publicly about their thoughts.  Therefore, this radio project allows women to combat their silencing, it gives women a space to both express their voices and make their voices public thus helping to establish a sense of community among these women.  The pubic radio broadcasts of women’s voices perhaps creates an imaginary community, not necessarily physically bound but instead reaching out to a plethora of women who may share similar experiences linking them together and creating an outlet for expression, a resource for assistance and knowledge and a tool of communication. This tool, a vehicle for the spreading of women’s issues and opinions, contributes innumerable benefits towards women’s lives, creating an informed community— i.e. by teaching women about their rights in society.  For example, in a domestic assault situation, knowing that the police are required to help is an example of information gained from listening to women’s radio. Therefore, proliferating knowledge such as about women’s rights and creating a sense of enhanced agency are examples of the beneficial nature and community sentiment created through women’s radio programming in Guatemala.    
In both Fanon’s article as well as in the lecture on radio programming in Guatemala, we are exposed to the idea that the radio can be used as a resistance tool, a tool that can enhance and facilitate a strong common bond among a group of individuals facing adversity or contention and thus form community based on a sense of bounded solidarity based on common values, experiences and beliefs and goals.  In Fanon’s article we are presented with the “ new attitudes adopted by the Algerian people in the course of the fight for liberation, with the respect to a precise technical instrument; the radio) (Fanon, 1965: 69).  In the face of colonial presence and power the national radio broadcast “ The Voice of Fighting Algeria” was of salient importance in consolidating and unifying the people, thus creating a sense of group membership and community amongst these individuals facing adversity by an oppressor group (84).  Previous to 1954, adopting the radio in the Algerian house was seen as a sign of Europeanization, a sentiment of giving voice to and surrendering to the occupier (92). However with the creation of The “Voice” radios became a commonality in the Algerian household through it’s broadcast sending a sense of strengthening the unity of the Algerian people, as possessing a radio signified  “paying taxes to the nation, [and] buying the right of entry in to the struggle of an assembled people” (84).  Switching on the radio no longer meant surrendering to the enemy but instead the “Voice” served as a viable communication tool, creating a sense of communal solidarity, power and resistance against an oppressor. The “Voice” enabled the proliferation of the news regarding the revolution to all of Algeria, thus, it is important to note in regards to this example but also in general, a beneficial attribute of the ratio is that it is not necessarily geographically limited (82). Through reference to Fanon’s article the many beneficial attributes of radio maybe presented, such as the ability of radio’s contribution to creating a community, unity, solidifying a groups sense of agency and proliferating news across geographical boundaries; thus as  result playing a fundamental role  in strengthening the sense of Algerian national consciousness.
CBQM, a radio broadcast program in remote Fort McPherson, is also a unique case study of how the radio serves, creates and enhances a sentiment of community. CBQM creates an actively informed and enhanced sense of community through its many personalized, community enhancing functions including the spread of community messages between members, (i.e. for one person to call another), announcing messages about events, such as the seniors dinner, as well as being used by the local police to announce enforcement news.  Therefore, CBQM creates a sense of connection between the members in this remote physical place, as it allows for members of the community to have a mediator of sorts representing and addressing salient concerns within the community. CBQM reflects the nature of community as its content is premised on the everyday lives, realities and activities of Fort McPherson.  Further, CBQM is not only used as a tool to proliferate well wishes, urgent news, announce community problems/solutions and to share safety/precautionary measures, but also facilitates unique community bonding activities.  I was pleasantly surprised as to how CBQM facilitated a community wide bingo game, as I thought it was a fantastic use of the radio as a communication tool able to reach many people simultaneously.  Overall, CBQM is a fantastic example of how the radio plays a pivotal part in the activities of everyday life as a communication tool reflecting the realities of a group of people as well as bonding these individuals thus, building, enhancing and maintaining a sense of community premised on shared realities.

 This is an excerpt from the CBQM trailer.

1. Allen, Dennis                                                                                                                                                 2010 CBQM National Film Board of Canada.
2. Nitsan, Tal, Lecture on Women’s radio programming in Guatemala.
3. Fanon                                                                                                                                                         1965 This is The Voice of Algeria. A Dying Colonialism


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