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Utrikesjournalistikens antropologi : Nationalitet, etnicitet och kön i svenska tidningar / The Anthropology of Foreign News : Nationality, ethnicity and gender in Swedish newspapers

  • Roosvall, Anna
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2005
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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The aim of this study is to identify, map and understand the anthropology – the science of man – that can be distinguished in foreign news pages in Swedish daily papers. Concepts of nationality, ethnicity and gender are crucial parameters in this anthropology. Foreign news can be regarded as a textual system in which form and content interact to create its own object of knowledge: the Other, or rather, the Others. Thus, the relationship between foreign news as a textual system and foreign news as anthropology is central to this dissertation. The years 1987, 1995 and 2002 have been selected for examination on the following grounds: 1987 belongs to the cold war era; 1995 belongs to the post-cold war era, and is also the year when Sweden joined the EU; and 2002 belongs to the era defined by the events of September 11 2001. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of a total of 1,162 foreign news articles published during one week in each year, was carried out. The qualitative analysis consists mainly of discourse analysis. Foucault’s discourse theory constitutes the theory of knowledge in the study. It is combined with Barthes’ theory on myths as well as postcolonial and other theories on nationality, ethnicity and gender and the representation of these aspects in journalism and elsewhere. Discourse type is a central concept in the analysis. Discourse types resemble subgenres, but are specifically defined by certain perspectives. Other defining aspects are voices, style, mode of address and closeness/distance to an event/a development. Seven discourse types that constitute the order of the discourse in foreign news pages were identified in this study: On location narratives, Elite event reports, Catastrophe event reports, Situation reports, Commentaries, Picture paragraphs and Quotation paragraphs. The representation of different regions of the world, of different nationalities and ethnicities, and of men and women, are related to these discourse types throughout the study. The anthropology of foreign news establishes vast differences between people. These differences depend on regions, spheres in society, gender and skin colour. They also depend on the textual setting, i.e. the discourse type. Some regions, like Western Europe, USA, the Middle East and North Africa, are always centred. Others, like South America and parts of Africa, are practically ignored. Women are also ignored, hence “othered” by exclusion. When women do appear, this occurs in discourse types which exoticize them concerning gender as well as nationality/ethnicity. Women with darker skin are generally more negatively represented, compared to “white” women. The ruling groups, normally represented by men, appear as quite alike around the world. They are not exoticized and generally speak for themselves. However, powerful men from the Middle East and North Africa and from the (former) Soviet Union are treated differently and represented as threats, sometimes even as tabooed. All these aspects stand out as relatively stable during the research period. Differences in the order of discourse consist mainly of an increase of exoticizing perspectives and of the use of pictures — both of which correspond to a relative increase of women — and of a simultaneous decrease of plain, scanty reports and increase of explicitly subjective articles. International aspects also increase over the years. However, this undermining of the hegemony of the nation on the foreign news pages, still exists within the discourse of the nation. The idea of the nation still limits the understanding of the world. In a similar way, the explicitly subjective articles increase within the discourse of journalistic objectivity. This is an interesting and thought-provoking paradox in the genre of foreign news.

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