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Indigenous terrains and the threat of cultural erosion

Varan, Duane (1998) Indigenous terrains and the threat of cultural erosion. Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, 12 (1-2). pp. 92-114.

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The author explores the conflict between indigenous and academic discourse, noting the extent to which the former continues to perceive television as culturally intrusive while the later discounts this threat on the basis of a wide range of studies which have empirically examined the issue. The author revisits these studies to demonstrate that while the arguments in each study refuting any significant transcultural effects related to television have been consolidated to form a meta-argument discounting this threat, those findings documenting effects have been left in isolation. The author proposes a new model of cultural erosion which, he maintains, better accommodates previous findings by framing the question with geological constructs associated with erosion. Four specific processes associated with such ‘cultural erosion’ are explored: Cultural abrasion, resulting from friction between the contrasting values reflected in a cultural terrain and a foreign media agent; cultural deflation, whereby those facets which are least consolidated within a culture are most vulnerable to foreign influence — a process facilitated by agents of displacement which can weaken consolidating factors within a terrain; cultural deposition in which foreign beliefs, practices and artifacts supplement the local cultural landscape potentially, at times, providing for cross-cultural fertilization; and cultural saltation, where social practices appropriate communication systems in response to the perceived threat of a foreign media agent. the author concludes with a brief discussion of potential policy implications associated with the new model.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Routledge as part of Taylor & Francis
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