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Media racism: Beyond modernity and postmodernity

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Is racism changing form or character as modernity fades away and a footloose postmodernity takes its place? We consider a wide range of definitions and understandings of racism, modernity and postmodernity, and, while changes in appearance, methods, and mechanisms as well as prevention of racist communication in the media seem undeniable, the question is raised whether the distinctions between ‘modernity’ and ‘postmodernity’ and the applications of these concepts to history and culture might themselves be distorting and racist. We argue that if ‘modernity’ must be used, then best as a suffix, ‘-modernity’, and if that suffix must be used, then it should be used with the prefix of ‘trans-’. In the mainstream definitions of modernity and of postmodernity we find a fundamental modern and postmodern assumption – manifested in Jaspers’ and Bammé’s ‘axial age’ theories of global western influence starting first around 2800 and then around 500 years ago, and then again around 40 years ago, as the three most important axes around which all history must revolve – to be problematic, mainly Eurocentric, and not representative for or of humanity. With the aid of media history and media anthropology we demonstrate weaknesses in axial age and postmodern theories and conclude that while racist communication keeps changing, the main perpetrator and victim populations have each conspicuously looked the same and sounded the same in recent centuries.
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Keywords: axial age; media diversities; modernity; postmodernity; racism; transmodernity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Webster Vienna Private University 2: University of Johannesburg

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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