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Orientation to the nation: a phenomenology of media and diaspora


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This thesis examines the mediation of the nation-state as a dimension of the diasporic
experience of place. It focuses on the consumption of mass-media about Israel or
originating from it by people residing outside of the country. I understand this
mediation to take place continuously throughout the day, in multiple spaces, through
different technologies. As such, it forms part of the experience of place in mediasaturated
(urban) environments, allowing for a distant nation-state to become
embedded in daily routines. In order to theorise this experience, I draw on MerleauPonty’s
phenomenology, which understands place through embodied perception and
habit, and on studies of diaspora and media, which examine the social meanings and
uses of media among specific transnational groups. This qualitative project is based
on a researcher-absent exercise and extended interviews with British Jews and Israeli
immigrants in London. Analysis reveals that orientation includes four areas of
practice: investing and withdrawing emotions as part of managing ‘care’, searching
for truth, distinguishing between ordinary and extraordinary time, and domesticating
media. Some of these practices may be particular to the case of Israel, but some are
shaped by discourses around insecurity, rather than Zionism itself. Others appear to
be related to experiences of migration and diaspora in general. I argue that these
practices are ‘orientational practices’ in which people endeavour to make sense of
spatial positioning through negotiating distance and controlling media. I theorise
media as ‘orientation devices’ in diasporic everyday life, but ones that are unstable,
contested and reflected upon, and hence never fully habituated. The resulting
experience is one of increased reflexivity about everyday place and, paradoxically,
increased dependency on media for orientation. I conclude by suggesting that
practices of orientation point to a mode of being in place in globalisation that is not
sufficiently addressed by the dominant understanding of ‘belonging’.



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Orientation to the nation: a phenomenology of media and diaspora

Bibliographic Information

Lavi, Eyal Orientation to the nation: a phenomenology of media and diaspora. Goldsmiths, University of London. 2012:  https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-uk206