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Cultures and Identities

Belonging and community on all scales from the local to the transnational 

Examples of Research Activities

Research on transnational media cultures explores the influence of global media industries and trends in media representations, identities and media consumption on diasporic communities and within transnational comparative contexts. We also examine transnational media history and investigate transnational shifts in the mediation of ethnicity, gender, and human rights. 

Research by Shakuntala Banaji| has examined the way audiences of Hindi films in Europe appropriate media content, the way class informs the mediated experience of young people in India, and audience responses to themes of violence or xenophobia in media content.

Nick Couldry  led from January 2010 to June 2013, while at Goldsmiths, the Storycircle| research project within the UK Digital Economy programme as part of the FIRM consortium|. This project investigated the relationship between digital infrastructures and narrative exchange across five streams of action research (with two schools/colleges, a community club, a community reporters organization and a local tenants association, based in the North West of England). From these projects, a number of publications are being prepared on the use of digital platforms in supporting new forms of recognition and voice within communities and organizations.

Myria Georgiou’s |project,Media & Citizenship: Transnational Television Cultures Reshaping Political Identities in the European Union,|[RM2]   funded by the EU, is a large scale comparative project which focused on Arab audiences of transnational television across three European capital cities. The project explored the relation between political and cultural identities and media consumption among the diverse Arabic communities in Europe. 

Bingchun Meng |has investigated the Super Girl phenomenon in China as a media spectacle showing how the strategies employed by media producers mediate between state, market and spectators maintaining myths and naturalising, rather than challenging, existing  power structures.

Wendy Willems’ |research focuses on popular culture, performance and politics in Africa. She has examined, for example, the way audience agency was imagined in colonial Rhodesia and how this compares with contemporary post-colonial Zimbabwe, emphasising media strategies aimed at both producing loyal citizens and entertaining subjects. In 2013 she completed a project on ‘ICT Policy and New Media Cultures in Southern Africa’ examining the political implications of mobile phone use during the 2011 elections in Zambia, funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

We give particular attention to changing performances of trans-national solidarity in Western popular culture through research on media representations of distant others in television news, NGO appeals, Hollywood celebrities and global concerts. These have been celebrated historically as among the most powerful ways that the plight of vulnerable others becomes a trans-national cause for emotion and action. 

Shani Orgad’s|  research on the global imagination of suffering has emphasising complex understandings of ‘proper distance’ and humanitarian action. The Mediated Humanitarian Knowledge|  project is investigating humanitarian communication and the way NGOs communication their messages and the British public’s responses.

Lilie Chouliaraki’s|research has emphasised the theatricality of humanitarian representations in the media, the complex relations between witnessing, morality and action, and the need to move beyond a politics of pity. Her work has focused on the institutional, political and technological transformations in the mediation of vulnerability, raising crucial questions about the significance of changes in the ways solidarity is justified and enacted across time, and with a focus on liberal ethics and the spectacle of war.

Terhi Rantanen’s|research has tackled the problematic way in which the media frame economic and political problems in time of crisis and how this is associated with our understanding of nationalism and global risk and trust. She has examined how comparative media research can be approached methodologically in the face of a changing global media landscapes and local cultures. Her collaborative project  Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe|, funded by the ERC, is a four-year project exploring the often troublesome and poorly understood relationship between democracy and the media in Central and Eastern Europe, and the findings should be more broadly applicable to consolidating democracies worldwide. This research focuses on the quality of the media asking what kind of democracy is necessary for the media to perform its statutory function?

Ofra Koffman’s |research looked at how development policy effort to empower girls in the global South is being communicated to girls in the global North. The research interrogated the notion of transnational solidarity that was being propagated as part of the invitation to Northern girls to become active supporters of their distant ‘sisters’.


We participate in national and international networks including: the Aftermath Project| (led by Manuel Castells, João Caraça and Gustavo Cardoso and sponsored by the Gulbenkian Foundation) and the EU-funded COST Action Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies|, to which we contribute with research and publications on media, migration and diaspora.

Selected publications|