The United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM) was pleased to launch its first research programme, entitled ‘Migration, Media and Intercultural Dialogue’, on March 21st 2013 with a filmed Dialogue between two invited discussants working in related fields. They were Ms. Yolanda Onghena, Senior Researcher at CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs) with expertise in the field of intercultural dynamics and Dr. Enrique Santamaría, a sociologist focusing on the construction of social identities and alterities, the social perception of migration and other related matters.
The two discussants were invited to expand on key concepts underpinning the nexus of migration, media and intercultural dialogue via a series of questions that framed this topic in a variety of transversal ways. These included considerations of the relevance of this thematic area to questions of globalization, culture and mobility; questions of cultural difference and how to analyse them; the role of mainstream and digital media in constructing and subverting discourses on migration; and the significance of intercultural dynamics in the migration-media nexus.
Both experts highlighted the importance of examining prevalent discourses in this field, through enhanced attention to the terminologies and vocabularies on migration and cultural difference that are commonly used within the media. Dr. Santamaría stressed the importance of thinking in the plural and unpacking the multiplicities of referents that lie hidden within terms such as ‘diversity.’ Ms. Onghena noted that culture is not a normative concept, since it relies for its existence on the ‘other’ who is different. She called for terms that address a new reality, whereby political co-opting to control cultural diversity can be resisted.