Blaagaard, Bolette. Journalism of Relation. Social Constructions of’whiteness’ and Their Implications in Contemporary Danish Journalistic Practice and Production. (2009) [PDF]

Blaagaard, Bolette. Journalism of Relation. Social Constructions of’whiteness’ and Their Implications in Contemporary Danish Journalistic Practice and Production. Dissertation. Utrecht University, 2009,

This dissertation is focused on the journalistically practiced and mediated self-other relation in the contemporary cultural and postcolonial context of Denmark. As part of the ‘western’ world Denmark’s journalistic endeavours and explorations reflect and engage the cultural memory and thus the hegemonic self-image, the social imaginary, of the country and to some extent of its ‘western’ neighbours. Positioning myself in a European tradition of what may be called philosophies of experience – that is, philosophies that place emphasis on the embodiment of knowledge and the subjectivity of experience – I pay particular attention to the practice and production, in Raymond William’s use of the word, of journalistic participation in re- and de-constructing cultural memories and feelings of national, cultural, ethnic and religious belonging. The dissertation sets up a theoretical framework of references by presenting a number of debates that challenge the claimed universality and objectivity of white ‘western’ culture and politics. This critique emerge from African-American scholars and ‘white’ feminists alike, however the two have difficulties combining their respective positions and knowledge claims. Moreover, African-American women have called for recognition of the particularities of their situation of belonging to both categories. I employ a post-phenomenological approach to develop a theoretical framework which is based on the argument that though perception is at the core of a phenomenological approach to difference, perception should not be understood as interchangeable with visualisation. It is rather an understanding that creates strong ties to consciousness and experience. Drawing in the whole of personal experience and consciousness of difference phenomenology presents a theory of the self-other relation which is simultaneously personal and political. Secondly, the dissertation relates the phenomenological ‘race’ and gender debates to the societal and productive context of contemporary European and ‘western’ globalised and mediated culture and politics. Journalism is re-defined as theory and practice of production of cultural memory and social imaginaries of gendered, ethnic, religious, national and ‘racial’ differences. At the core of the argument here is a critique of the journalistic use of ‘objectivity’. This use hides the journalistic subjectivity by splitting the ethical accountability and relation from journalistic training and practices whereby a ‘white’ and homogeneous social imaginary is reproduced. I make a call for thinking about journalism as relation – in terms of technological mediations, but also in terms of subjectivities. In order to allow for this, a shift is needed in the understanding of an ‘us’ that forges a view of identity redefined in terms of intensities (Braidotti 2006), an ethics of difference (de Beauvoir 1976; Braidotti 2006) and a non-reductionist understanding of the other as part of the self (Glissant 1997). Following this framework the dissertation reworks ideas of cosmopolitanism from universal reproductions of sameness into creative productions of singular self-other relations based on the practiced and productive journalism. This is substantiated through case study analyses. The aim is to challenge the modern, rational journalistic subject referring back to the unified nation-state citizens. It is an undoing of journalism – a journalism as becoming and as excess of relation.