Kanchan K. Malik, Faculty Fellow with the UNESCO Chair on Community Media represented the Chair at the Conference on Migration and Media Awareness (CMMA 2017) organised at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany from November 23 to 25, 2017. She participated in a panel discussion on Media Pluralism and Cultural Diversity and her talk was titled ‘Creating Voice Capabilities – Migration, Media and Multiculturalism’.

The conference conceived by Larry Macaulay of Refugee Radio Network had several important partners including community radio stations in Hamburg, the Association of Free Radios in Germany (BFR), Council of Europe, and CMFE. Attended by approximately 250 participants, the purpose of the conference was to create a forum that brings together community media projects promoted by Migrants / Refugees and mainstream media in discussion panels, workshops and exhibitions.  Community media were considered as important enablers of freedom of expression, producers of counter alternative narratives, and promoters of media pluralism and diversity.

In her talk, Kanchan reflected on the vocabulary linking media, human mobility, and the politics of ‘voice’. Borrowing from what media scholar Nick Couldry calls a ‘crisis of voice’, she indicated how large media institutions exclude people’s voices especially those of groups such as women, children, indigenous people, minorities, migrants and refugees.

Positing community media as part of the larger struggle to counter market-oriented gatekeeping observed in media, by evolving mechanisms for strengthening ‘voices’, her talk mentioned how European Union was faced with the arrival of a million migrants and had to deal with the shifts of narration between political ramifications on the one side and vulnerability of the migrants on the other. A similar situation prevailed in the South Asian countries as the Rohingya Muslims had to flee from Myanmar.

Kanchan expressed that corporate media create opposing binaries between ‘victimhood’ and ‘threat’ that perpetuate a misrecognition of migrants and keeps them outside the remit of belonging to the communities they move to. Nations must endorse media that uphold the coexistence of different cultural identities within the same geographical space. This raises the question of ‘voice’, that is, who has the right to narrate the stories about the migrants and from whose perspective? She reasoned that community media/ CR stations must become spaces to facilitate the opportunity for migrants to have a voice.

Kanchan reiterated the UNESCO Chair on Community Media’s renewed sense of commitment to engage, even more deeply, with media discourses and practices that facilitate inclusivity, and respect for multiple cultures.

During her stay in Hamburg, Kanchan also visited FSK (one of the free radios of Germany) in Hamburg and met Martin Trautvetter along with his team members Werner and Daniel. She also interacted with Mark Westhusen from Radio Corax and Stefan Tenner from Radio Neumunster and Michael Nicolai, President AMARC Europe (also from Radio Corax). They, and other free radios were in Hamburg for the annual congress of the Association of Free Radios in Germany (BFR).

FSK (Freies Sender Kombinatwas) started in 1996, and Martin has been associated with it as a volunteer since 2003. A station with leftist leanings was born out of support for social and political movements. In a brief informal interview, Martin said that while FSK backs radical and alternative voices, they wish to be known as independent broadcasters and not loudspeakers for a particular movement. They wish to retain their right to be critical of all agendas and be editorially autonomous.

The station is now housed in one of the buildings in the Gängeviertel area. (The same place also had Larry Macaulay’s Refugee Radio Network). Gängeviertel is a cultural area/space created out of some old houses (in the middle of the business centre area) by a team of artists and other socially committed volunteers to revive the cultural life in the city. It has galleries and studios for concerts, exhibitions and workshops.

Kanchan also visited another free radio, TIDE 96.0 Hamburger Lokalradio and interacted with Claudia Willke, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief as well as Timo Remmers, Head of public relations. TIDE acts as a community and training channel that encourages anyone who has an idea for a program, to develop it. TIDE conducts special media literacy trainings that are addressed to parents and educators.

CR News Bureau


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