The representation and consumption of 'Asian culture'
This thesis focuses on the representation and consumption of 'Asian
culture' within a context of Western popular culture and specifically,
'British mainstream' and 'British Asian' magazine visual discourses.
Through a critical engagement with Edward Said's Orientalism (1978)
which charted Western inferiorizing cultural representations of the East as
located in historical and material contexts, I aim to explore issues of 'race'
and Otherness amidst a background of historical and commodification
processes. This has been attempted using multiple methodologies that in
addition to engaging with secondary material, has involved a reflexive use
of semiotics and discourse analysis to analyse magazine images and
written text respectively. Further, I have attempted to go beyond the
textual focus of both Orientalism (1978) and many media studies by also
gathering contextual reader responses to magazine representations.
These have taken the form of the subjective interpretations of 20 British
youths (men and women of Asian and white English origin) that have
been analysed in conjunction with biographical narratives that I also
conducted with each of them.
Through the use of this rich and varied empirical data coupled with a
thorough review of secondary source material, I aim to add to and
question work that has been conducted in the area of 'race' and culture
that appears to have moved from a concentration on the 'essential black
subject' to an emphasis on ethnic unities within an uncritical celebration
of 'diaspora' and 'hybridity'. I also aim to make problematic work that has
been conducted in the area of orientalism through drawing attention to
the limitations associated with the concept of 'self-orientalism' and
practices of 'self-representation' by minorities. Overall, through
conducting work on Asian representations within the popular magazine
media coupled with its interrelation with varied audiences, I hope to make
some inroads into these under-researched areas.