Body of Knowledge
Alternative Media in Surburban Plantation Culture - Media, Culture & Society 25:5
by John T. Caldwell
This article reconsiders the concept of 'alternative media', and describes a set of alternative media projects produced over six years in and around migrant farm worker camps in southern California. The media projects described here (small-format videos within marginalized labor communities), challenge assumptions about 'alternative media' on three levels - as a theoretical concept, as media practice and as a political project. The article argues the need to attend to the complex spatial and institutional contexts that inflect and complicate any local alternative media project. This examination of how the lived spaces of the migrant camps are both avowed and effaced by local residents and contractors underscores the tortured logic of the region. The study reveals not just how the landed status quo organizes workers lives as parts of its 'scenic' landscape. It also describes how indigenous 'Mixteco' labor organizers simultaneously work to exploit and resist the same conditions. Occupying semi-public contact-zones and no-man's lands (legally ambiguous spaces), provides migrants with a material beach-head from which to claim other rights that have more legal teeth (including fair labor, health and safety, and civil rights laws). Compared to the conventional video forms the producers/researchers set out to produce, these practices suggested that migrants' unauthorized occupation of space is a consequential form of 'alternative media' in its own right; a transnational community response to policies of globalization and 'free-trade'.
Publication Type: Article / Chapter / Essay: 21 pages
Publisher: Sage Publications (2003)
Location: London, UK
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