An Interview with the Distinguished Professor of Folklore at University of California, Berkeley

As part of CARE, our team member Asha Rathina Pandi had the privilege to interview our visitor this summer, Professor Charles Leslie Briggs, the Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor of Folklore at University of California, Berkeley. Renowned globally as a leader in medical anthropology, Professor Briggs’ work on biocommunicability offers novel insights into the social construction processes through which the news media produce, circulate and reify knowledge and discourse about health, life, disease and death. Exploring the intersections of communication and biomedicine, he offers insights into communicative processes through which meanings are assigned to biological phenomena and ways in which these meanings are mobilised within the broader structures of power. brigg1s           Background I am from the US, born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a small city with a population of about 500,000, located along the border of US and Mexico, which has indigenous population and also the descendants of people who were Mexican citizens before the US took over. I grew up in the North Valley, a section with a strong working class Latino/Latina population. I learnt Spanish, even though many of my Latinos/Chicanos friends did not know Spanish, a result of the forms of linguistic discrimination that is common in the United States. This situation prompted me to think about linguistic inequalities and associated forms of discrimination. When I was in high school and college, I was a radio disc jockey – radio announcer. Later, living in the northern part of the state, I became the first non-Hispanic, Spanish-speaking jockey in New Mexico. I became interested in issues of language and inequality - what happened to indigenous and Spanish-speaking people when their land was taken away. What happened when people were forced to speak English, such as in schools? Could we call this a loss of linguistic rights? I worked as community activist in Spanish-speaking communities; my training in anthropology helped me learn skills that aided in figuring out ways to bring oral testimonies to help in court cases that dealt with rights to land. Read More

The Deconstruction of Diane Sawyer's News Coverage

With the recent Israel intervention in Palestine being reported by American news anchor Diane Sawyer, Dr Mohan analyses how this news coverage was framed in the context of how mainstream media becomes the instrument of propaganda for those in power.