Zalipour, A., & Athique, A. (2014). Diasporic films and the migrant experience in New Zealand: A case study in social imagination. International Journal of Cultural Studies, online, 1–16. http://doi.org/10.1177/1367877914553725
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9748
Drawing upon interviews and focus groups with Asian migrants, this article interrogates responses to ‘diasporic’ films that seek to represent multicultural experiences in contemporary New Zealand. We argue that these responses provide an effective demonstration of the operation of the ‘social imagination’, a discursive process that articulates the fundamental linkage between symbolic representation, community formation and social action. As our respondents narrated the personal meanings that they construct around ethnically specific media, they were compelled to describe known and hypothetical others, to elucidate symbolic and moral codes, and to reveal social empathies and anxieties. In this study, we found that discussions around migrant stories revealed a series of deeply personalised notions of self and place that were always situated in juxtaposition with externalised projections of community formation and the ‘mainstream’ culture. This dynamic reflects what can be conceptualised as the central preoccupations of a ‘diasporic social imagination’. These responses, therefore, constitute a case study of social imagination at work in a multicultural context, underlining the utility of narrative media in providing a public forum for discussing cultural diversity.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: International Journal of Cultural Studies. © 2014 the authors.