Abstract: It has long been recognized that speech or media rights are often caught in the dynamic contradiction between democratic political epistemology on the one hand and legal management of public order on the other. With an overarching aim to forge a closer relation between cultural studies and human rights advocacy work, I wish in this talk to explore the (dis)junction between two conceptions prevalent in the legal academy regarding media rights. The first is the conception of “media interventionism” as a political practice for curbing the propagation of “hate media” in conflict territories, often involving principled legal debates about transnational media rights. The second is the conception of “visual legal advocacy” which is increasingly being seen as a critical component of human rights lawyering and activism. If interventionism curbs the media space, visual advocacy strives to stretch and enlarge it. Yet both engender their own reproduction of legal power relations, even as they present a continuum of legal possibilities and imaginations.
John Nguyet Erni is professor and chair of the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He has published widely on critical public health, Chinese consumption of transnational culture, queer media, youth popular consumption in Asia, and human rights criticism. His books include Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong: A Critical Multicultural Approach (with Lisa Leung, HKUP, 2013), Cultural Studies of Rights: Critical Articulations (Routledge, 2011), Internationalizing Cultural Studies: An Anthology (with Ackbar Abbas, Blackwell, 2005), Asian Media Studies: The Politics of Subjectivities (with Siew Keng Chua, Blackwell, 2005), and Unstable Frontiers: Technomedicine and the Cultural Politics of “Curing” AIDS (Minnesota, 1994). Currently, he is completing a book project on the legal modernity of rights."
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