Research Dialogues


Prof Miyase Christensen, University of Stockholm  
Prof Nadia Kaneva, University of Denver

Myria Georgiou, Dept of Media and Communications, LSE

Geopolitics, Technology and Migration in Europe

Prof Miyase Christensen
Stockholm University

Race, ethnicity, diaspora and migration are contested concepts embedded in geopolitically specific histories and do constitute key points of reference both in popular and academic discourses. Understanding the contemporary European political and social context necessitates fleshing out the linkages between such key concepts in time and space specific ways. Over the past decade we have witnessed the rise of the xenophobic, Euro-skeptic political party in Europe. From France to the Netherlands to Denmark to Sweden, refashioned far-right parties have capitalized on populist rhetoric over the loss of jobs, sovereignty and cultural identity as a result of immigration from both outside and inside the EU. Much hay has been made on the back of the “Global War on Terror” by positing that Europeans are at risk of becoming part of a broader trend of Islamification: a process whereby an imagined post-industrial modernity is consumed by an imagined pre-industrial tradition. Ironically, much of this right-wing rhetoric plays upon supposed European cosmopolitan qualities such as democracy, openness and tolerance to both critique “backward” others and reify European modernity. In sum, the resurgent right in Europe condemns cosmopolitanism while at the same time lauding its results.

Presenter’s Bio:
Miyase Christensen is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Stockholm University and Guest Professor at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Christensen has numerous international publications in the form of journal articles and books. Her research focus is on globalization processes and social change; technology, culture and identity; and, politics of popular communication. Her latest books include Media and the Politics of Arctic Climate Change: When the Ice Breaks (Palgrave Macmillan)

Fixing the “Roma Problem”? Nation Branding and European Discourses of Alterity

Nadia Kaneva, Associate Professor
University of Denver

How does nation branding – a commercial, media-centric strategy for managing national reputations and identities – intersect with transnational discourses about Europe’s “Roma problem”?  To address this question, this presentation will offer a critical discourse analysis of “Romanians in Europe,” a branding campaign commissioned by the Romanian government in 2008, which was intended to scrub Romania’s national image clean of associations with Romani migrants in Europe.  Three main questions will be discussed: What conditions led to the Romanian government’s decision to intervene in the “Roma problem” through a commercial branding campaign?  How did the campaign construct a narrative of Romanian national identity, and what was the position allotted to Romania’s Roma in it?  And what can we learn from this case about discursive constructions of alterity and the politics of national and transnational identities in Europe after the end of the Cold War and in conditions of growing mediatization and commercialization?

The analysis shows how a nation branding campaign was used as a strategic tool to police the boundaries of national and transnational identities.  Furthermore, it seeks to unsettle notions that a post-modern, image-conscious, “soft power” nationalism – exemplified by the practices and discourses of nation branding – is somehow less dangerous or more humane than its modernist manifestations on the European continent.  Rather, it is argued that mediatized and marketized mutation of nationalism are a logical, yet no less damaging, adaptation born from the articulation of nationalist ideologies with neoliberal globalization and European expansion after the end of the Cold War.

Presenter’s Bio:
Nadia Kaneva is Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver, USA.  Her research draws on critical theories of communication and culture to explore the construction of national and gendered identities, with a primary focus on post-socialist Europe. She is particularly interested in critical perspectives on promotional culture and is currently working on a book about the media’s role in advancing consumerism in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.  She is the editor of Branding Post-Communist Nations: Marketizing National Identities in the New Europe (Routledge 2011), co-editor with Stewart Hoover of Fundamentalisms and the Media (Continuum 2009), and author of multiple scholarly articles and chapters.  This year she is guest-editing a special issue on media and post-socialist femininities for the journal Feminist Media Studies (forthcoming in 2015