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Locality and Career in the World of Foreign Correspondents

ISGI Seminar No. 24
Speaker(s) Ulf Hannerz
When Feb 16, 2004
from 03:30 PM to 05:30 PM
Where Sano Shoin, Hitotsubashi University, Kunitachi Campus
Language English
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by Miyuki Kobayashi last modified Mar 01, 2009 11:06 PM

Below is an extract from Dr. Hannerz's paper:

So there I am, early on a Stockholm morning, barely awake, gulping down my coffee, scanning the newspaper, listening to the Radio Sweden news program, and a familiar voice comes on which I have heard a great many times over the last couple of years or so. Now it reports on street riots in Karachi, or perhaps the newest military triumph of the Taleban in Afghanistan, and then signs off - "...So-and-so, Hongkong." Hongkong? But that report was about something thousands of miles from there?

To begin with, I may mostly have responded to this sort of listening experience with a mixture of outrage and amusement. Then, having somehow come to terms with the fact that media organizations such as Radio Sweden would have a staff member described as "Asia correspondent", my professional anthropological curiosity grew. How do they do it? As a journalist, that is, how does one handle the responsibility of reporting from a continent, or some large chunk of it?

During the last few years I have been trying to satisfy my curiosity about this, in an ongoing project on the working life of newsmedia foreign correspondents, and here I want to sketch some aspects of it. In the long term, certainly, the project is a part of my interest in an anthropology which deals with the interconnections of the global ecumene rather than with the delimited pieces of a global mosaic. When I began to develop that interest more seriously, twenty years or so ago, it was a concern growing out of local field work in a Nigerian town. Yet while I continued to draw on that, and on some range of other personal experiences from here and there in the world, there was a period when I was mostly at my desk, and engaged in a conceptual, theoretical, and somewhat programmatic line of work. Then the time seemed to be right, however, to get involved more directly with ethnography again. So that was when I began developing a more active interest in the foreign correspondents.

Ulf Hannerz works in the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm.

2-1 Naka, Kunitachi, Tokyo 186-8601, Japan. Tel: +81-42-580-9098
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