Curating Canadianness: public service broadcasting, fusion programming, and hierarchies of difference

Draisey-Collishaw, Rebecca (2017) Curating Canadianness: public service broadcasting, fusion programming, and hierarchies of difference. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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“Fusion programming” is an approach to music broadcasting that was employed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) during the early years of the twenty-first century. It’s understandable as a response to systemic and systematic pressure to be “more multicultural.” It was about the artistry of musicians and entertainment of audiences, but fusion programming also served a didactic purpose for producers and listeners, participating in the production, elaboration, reinforcement, and/or deconstruction of existing cultural systems. Producing fusion programming involved bringing a minimum of two musicians/musical groups from different genres, languages, styles, scenes, and cultures into the same CBC-sponsored venue for the expressed purpose of performing together and discussing the challenges of collaboration. Performances, in many cases, were posited as “multicultural,” “cross cultural,” or “a collision of cultures,” and conversations framing the music often referenced diversity, multiculturalism, and difference, effectively mapping musicians’ positionality within Canadian society and geography. This study uses “ethnographically grounded” content analysis of archival broadcasts (principally via radio) of fusion programming to raise questions about the discursive limitations of multiculturalism imposed by the ways in which policy concepts were operationalized during the first decade of the twenty-first century. Beginning with the principles, rights, and responsibilities defined in the Multiculturalism (1988) and Broadcasting (1991) Acts, I use case studies drawn from centres across Canada and broadcast via multiple CBC platforms and media lines in order to explore the CBC as a system of communication. I then focus on Fuse, the longest running example of fusion programming, examining how approaches to mediation and curation both celebrate and silence particular voices. I suggest that that while cross-cut with contradictions and resistance to totalizing narratives—particularly when the experiences of live audiences are taken into account and regional variants of fusion programming are considered—fusion programming privileged a very limited understanding of “Canadianness.” Instead of promoting an understanding of multiculturalism based on principles of social construction and integration into a shared civic culture based on liberal humanist principles, production contexts and assumptions about what counts as normal functioned to shore up the status quo; the potential for a more equitable sense of belonging embedded in existing legislation remains limited by existing discursive realizations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12870
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 438-455).
Keywords: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Public service broadcasting, Canadian music, Multiculturalism, Radio, Intercultural performance
Department(s): Music, School of
Date: October 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Ethnic radio broadcasting -- Canada; Music in intercultural communication -- Canada; Broadcasting policy -- Canada; National characteristics, Canadian

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