CARE manuscripts accepted at 71st International Communication Association Conference, 27-31 May 2021

ICA 2021 conference theme of Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication, Connectedness, and Social Justice

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation is looking forward to the opportunity to share our work at the 71st International Communication Association Conference #ICA21. This year’s virtual ICA conference is to be held on 27-31 May 2021 and has the theme “Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication, Connectedness, and Social Justice”.

The following manuscripts have been accepted for presentation

  • Negotiations of health among Rohingya Refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: A culture-centered approach to health and care by Mahbubur Rahman; Mohan Jyoti Dutta
  • Receiving healthcare while locked down: Voices from the margins in Aotearoa New Zealand by Phoebe Elers,Steven Elers & Prof. Mohan Jyoti Dutta
  • Extreme neoliberalism, migrant labour and COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore: A culture-centered interrogation by Prof. Mohan Jyoti Dutta
  • Migrant worker health as a human right: A culture-centered approach by Prof. Mohan Jyoti Dutta
  • Nobody Cares About Us: COVID-19 and Voices of Refugees from Aotearoa New Zealand by Pooja Jayan
  • If they cared, they’d listen:’ Culturally centering listening to disrupt the logics of community engagement by Christine Elers
  • Innocence lost: Community building as praxis by Prof. Mohan Jyoti Dutta, Prof. Shiv Ganesh & Christine Elers

In addition to: ‘Prejudice toward the “Other” during the Covid-19 Pandemic’ by Stephen Croucher, Thao Nguyen, Mohan Dutta & Doug Ashwell, along with fellow academics Tatiana Permyakova & Oscar Gomez

#ICA21 #ICA2021 #SocialMedia #communication #Connectedness #SocialJustice #CARE Massey #CARECCA #MasseyCJM #MasseyUni #masseyuniversity #Research #NewZealand #Aotearoa

About ICA 2021 conference theme

The ICA 2021 conference theme of Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication, Connectedness, and Social Justice calls for our examination of how care forms the fabric of our social and interconnected lives. From the moment that we enter this world we are completely dependent on the care of others, and as we move through our lives, the care of our teachers, doctors, leaders, and artists shape us into the adults that we are today. Even as we leave this earth, on our last days, we are comforted by the care of loved ones.

“Care” can be understood from a variety of perspectives relevant to communication. Namely, care can refer to:

  • Providing Assistance for Others (She takes care of my aunt.)
  • Being Interested in a Topic/Issue/Idea (They care about the notion of compassion.)
  • Concern about Others’ Well-Being (He cares what will happen to his children.)
  • The Provision of Needed Attention or Resources (Do they provide care at the hospital?)

The concept of care can also be understood from at least two vantage points that intersect with those meanings: self-directed and community-centered. The relative priority of self and community care within a given community reflects deeply embedded cultural values, experiences of oppressions, access to resources, and histories of trust.

The concept of “care” requires our thoughtful examination and reflection. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis of climate change, and militarized police brutality that continues to target, harass, and kill people of color, the urgency of care to address entrenched inequalities, an overarching climate of neglect, and a global political economy of individualized self-help has been rendered visible. Communication emerges in this backdrop as a transformative site for re-working care, anchoring it in relationships, communities, organizing processes, media systems, and social formations. Care is both constituted by and constitutive of communication, as a register for creating spaces of compassion and connectedness.

CARE Research News: CARE article published in Health Communication journal- “Negotiating Health Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown in Low-income Communities in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Christine Elers , Pooja Jayan, Phoebe Elers & Mohan J. Dutta

Center of Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University


Aotearoa New Zealand’s public health crisis communication approach amidst the COVID-19 pandemic effectively mobilized the nation into swift lockdown, significantly reducing community transmission. This communication approach has been applauded around the world. How did communities situated amongst the “margins of the margins” in Aotearoa New Zealand navigate through the existing structural barriers to health during the pandemic? In this study, we use a culture-centered analysis to foreground the structural context of disenfranchisement amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. Drawing on in-depth interviews with participants in a larger ethnographic project on poverty and health across three communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, we attend to the ways in which health is negotiated amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown response at the “margins of the margins.” The narratives point out that health communication interventions to prevent COVID-19 in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand furthered the marginalization of communities at the margins, and community voices were largely erased from the enactment of interventions. With the extant structures failing to recognize these aspects of everyday struggles of health at the margins, the health and access challenges were further magnified during COVID-19. Our attention to communication situated in relationship to structures builds a register for health communication scholarship in the context of COVID-19 that is committed to disrupting the behaviorally based hegemonic health communication literature and transforming the unequal terrains of health experiences.

The trajectories of COVID-19 (C19) as well as the preventive policy responses to it have disproportionately impacted the global margins (Dutta et al., 2020). Across countries, regions, and communities, those at the gendered, raced, and classed margins have borne largely the effects of the pandemic (Patel et al., 2020). Aotearoa New Zealand has been globally recognized for its decisive leadership and the overarching effectiveness of its science-based C19 response, accompanied by clear communication and state-led welfare support (Cousins, 2020; Dutta et al., 2020; PRovoke Media, 2020). How then do inequities in health play out amidst this effective model of C19 response? Traditionally, Māori, Pasifika, and refugee communities have borne the greatest burdens of poor health outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand (Mahony et al., 2017; McIntosh & Mulholland, 2011; Ministry of Health, 2014). These features of raced/citizenship-based identity intersect with poverty to produce marginalization (Bowleg, 2020).

In this essay, we draw on our ethnographic fieldwork embedded in the culture-centered approach (CCA) with Māori, Pasifika, and refugee communities across three sites in Aotearoa New Zealand to examine the interplays of culture, structure, and agency at the margins in constituting the everyday negotiations of health and wellbeing amidst the C19 outbreak (Dutta, 2020). Our emphasis here is on foregrounding the structural context of marginalization, drawing out the common threads in the diverse experiences with the Whiteness of the pandemic communication response across raced identities at the peripheries in Aotearoa New Zealand that historically bear disproportionate burdens of health inequities (Mahony et al., 2017; McIntosh & Mulholland, 2011; Ministry of Health, 2014). The C19-related advocacy work performed by our academic-activist team emerged out of our advisory group members seeking solutions to the existing and new challenges to health introduced by C19. In this essay, we highlight the structural dimension of the culture-structure-agency framework of the CCA, challenging hegemonic message-based theorizing (Dutta, 2015).

CARE PUBLIC TALK SERIES: Transforming Indigenous Education: Kaupapa Māori Enactment with Distinguished Prof. Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Massey University

CARE PUBLIC TALK SERIES : Transforming Indigenous Education: Kaupapa Māori Enactment with Distinguished Prof. Graham Hingangaroa Smith,Distinguished Professorial Chair, Te Toi Ihorei ki Pūrehuroa, Massey University

Venue: Mezzanine Floor (1 Floor Entrance), Palmerston North City LibraryJoin the Facebook

Livestream on @caremassey


Talk Abstract:The title transforming Indigenous education is deliberately ambiguous – both meanings are intended. That is, given the persistence of high and disproportionate outcomes of inequality within Māori and Indigenous communities there needs to be transformative change with respect to both the processes and outcomes of education. We will not have a revolution of our unequal social and economic conditions without a prior or simultaneous educational revolution. In this presentation I argue the need for Indigenous educators to be able to work across the intersections of simultaneously being a scholar, critical activist and transformer.In this presentation Prof. Smith shares stories that illustrate this approach and challenge the dominant institutional pressures to become ‘privatized’ academics.About the Speaker:Professor Smith is a prominent and internationally regarded Māori educationalist and scholar who has been at the forefront of transforming Māori and Indigenous education and schooling. His work links theoretical thinking and practical applications within an ongoing cycle of transformative praxis.Professor Smith’s earlier training was in Social Anthropology and he completed a MA (Hons) dissertation on ‘Māori Rituals of Encounter’ entitled ‘The Significance of Green Leaves in Pohiri Ritual’. He trained as a teacher at Auckland Teachers College and taught in Auckland schools. He also lectured in Education at Auckland College of Education. He was one of the first teachers and developers of a Kura Kaupapa Māori – a Māori philosophy and principles-based School. These schools have grown from a single entity in 1988 to over seventy-five publicly funded schools in 2015. His theoretical leadership in the Education Department at the University of Auckland helped inform the emergence of Māori Education as a distinct field of study across the New Zealand Tertiary Sector. This work has encouraged a wide range of academic studies focused on overthrowing persisting inequities within and as a result of education and schooling in New Zealand. His significant contribution to New Zealand education is to be seen in his work related to Kaupapa Māori as a theory of Transformative Praxis.#CAREPublicTalkSeries#Transforming#IndigenousEducation#Kaupapa#Māori#Enactment#Aotearoa#NewZealand
#CARECCA#CAREMassey#MasseyCJM#MasseyUni#PNCC#PalmerstonNorthCityLibrary See Less

Special Presentation: A New Lecture Series :”Decolonizing Whiteness” with Prof. Mohan Dutta.

Join us at the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) for this special presentation of Professor Mohan J Dutta’s new lecture series: Decolonizing Whiteness Lecture Series

Stay tuned for more information on the new Lecture Series or follow us on our Facebook: & Twitter: pages for the latest updates.

Professor Mohan Dutta Wins Prestigious Charles H. Woolbert Research Award and Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association

Mohan J. Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University and Director of the CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation C, recently received the 2020 Charles H. Woolbert Research Award and the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association (NCA). Given annually, the Charles H. Woolbert Research Award honors a journal article or book chapter that has stood the test of time and has become a stimulus for new conceptualizations of communication phenomena. Dr. Dutta was recognized for the article, “Communicating about Culture and Health: Theorizing Culture-Centered and Cultural Sensitivity Approaches,” published in Communication Theory in 2007. Dr. Dutta’s paradigm-shifting critical-theoretical and applied intervention into health communication contexts and practices, addresses structural inequalities and centers the voices of those struggling on global margins. “Communicating about Culture and Health” changed the discipline, expanded cross-disciplinary and cross-methodological collaboration, and influenced curricula in medical schools as well as clinical practice. Cited more than 600 times, in more than a dozen languages, on every continent, this article has directly shaped projects benefitting “marginalized communities around the world, ranging from immigrant, African American, and First Nations communities in the United States and Canada, to migrant workers communities throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, to minoritized communities in South Africa, South America, and more.”The Golden Anniversary Monograph Award is given annually to honor the most outstanding scholarly monograph(s) published during the previous calendar year. Dr. Dutta was recognized for the article, “‘Communication sovereignty’ as Resistance: Strategies Adopted by Women Farmers Amid the Agrarian Crisis in India,” published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research in 2019 with Dr. Jagadish Thaker. Drs. Dutta and Thaker’s article is based on five years of participatory research with women farmers in southern India. The article highlights how women from oppressed caste communities in southern India come together to organize for increased economic and political power. The intervention that this article develops and emerges from addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time: food.“NCA’s annual awards honor communication scholars’ teaching, scholarship, and service,” NCA Executive Director Trevor Parry-Giles said. “NCA is proud to recognize Dr. Dutta’s significant contributions to the Communication discipline with this award.”Dr. Dutta’s award will be presented virtually on November 21 at the NCA 106th Annual Convention. For more information about NCA’s awards program, visit About the National Communication AssociationThe National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA supports inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom; NCA supports and promotes policies that fairly encourage this diversity and inclusion.

For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter at @natcomm, and find us on Facebook

#ResearchAwards #NationalCommunicationAssociationAwards #CharlesHWoolbertResearchAward #GoldenAnniversaryMonographAward

Professor Mohan Dutta’s book – “Communicating health: A culture-centered approach” receives Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association Health Communication

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation team congratulates Professor Mohan Dutta on the Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association Health Communication Division to his book, “Communicating health: A culture-centered approach” published with Polity. The book lays out the foundational concepts of the #CultureCenteredApproach (CCA), a meta-theoretical framework for health communication organizing, advocacy, and activism directed at transforming the deeply unequal structures that constitute health inequalities. The impact of the book, and its key theoretical argument on the CCA is felt globally, shaping two decades of health activism, health communication solutions, health interventions, and advocacy to shape health policy. Most vitally, the framework put forth in the book is recognized by global policy organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe and the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization UNESCO, as a lens for exploring the connections between culture and health. Cited over 485 times across #CommunicationStudies#MedicalAnthropology#Geography#Sociology#PublicHealth and #Medicine, the book has formed the basis of over 200 MA theses and doctoral dissertations.


CARE WHITE PAPER ISSUE 10: Digital Hate and the infrastructures of communicative capital

by Prof. Mohan Dutta,Director, CARE Massey University

Image source: 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited

Communicative capital, the consolidation of communicative infrastructures to drive profiteering, forms the face of twenty-first century neoliberalism. From Facebook to Amazon, digital communication is one of the most profitable sites of capitalist expansion.

Communicative capital is intertwined with financial and technological capital, drawing on the global networks of finance and simultaneously creating new sites and spaces for financialization.

Communicative capital works through the commercialization of human participation on digital platforms, turning likes, shares, and comments into profitable resources.

Of the wide array of human emotions on digital platforms that drive profiteering, hate is a powerful resource that draws in viewers, propels shares, and creates networks of flow. Hate has the potential of generating large profits because of its virality.

#CAREMassey #carewhitepaper #DigitalHate #Infrastructures #CommunicativeCapital

CARE Research: Culture-Centered Processes of Community Organizing in COVID-19 Response: Notes From Kerala and Aotearoa

Check out our latest research article published in Frontiers journal.

Title: Culture-Centered Processes of Community Organizing in COVID-19 Response: Notes From Kerala and Aotearoa New Zealand by Prof. Mohan Dutta, Christine Elers and Pooja Jayan, CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation, Massey University

Overview: The culture-centered processes of community organizing drawn on the case studies of community organizing in Communist Kerala and in Iwi-led Māori checkpoints in settler colonial Aotearoa New Zealand foreground the vital work of alternative practices of health response, serving as the basis for robust alternative imaginations amid the pandemic.

Here is the link to the full article –

#CultureCenteredProcesses #CommunityOrganizing #COVID19Response #Kerala #Aotearoa #NewZealand #CCA #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MasseyCJM #MasseyUni

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This is Me: Professor Mohan Dutta

Q & A with Prof. Mohan Dutta by Gabriella Davila, Senior Communications Advisor, Massey University

Staff questions and answers

Professor Mohan Dutta is the Director of global research hub, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) which relocated to Massey in 2018 from Singapore.  He is also Dean’s Chair, Professor of Communication at the School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing.

His research examines marginalisation in contemporary health/healthcare, health care inequalities, the intersections of poverty and health experiences at the margins, and the political economy of global health policies.

Mohan has received more than $6 million in funding to work on culture-centered projects of health communication, social change, and health advocacy. Working broadly on social change interventions designed to achieve the sustainable development goals Mohan has directed seven documentaries, run more than 20 360 degrees advocacy campaigns, and guided the building of various wellbeing infrastructures from irrigation systems and cultural spaces to health care systems and city design. His impact on global policy-making is evident in his advisory roles with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

He has written and edited 10 books and more than 200 articles and book chapters. Earlier this month, he published the book, “Communication, culture and social change: Meaning, co-option, and resistance” with Palgrave MacMillan. He has previously been recognised as an Outstanding Applied/Public Policy Communication Researcher of the ICA and Outstanding Health Communication Researcher of the National Communication Association). Earlier this month he was named a Fellow of the International Communication Association

Can you tell us about your childhood?

I grew up in a middle-class family in a town called Kharagpur in West Bengal, in the eastern part of India in a family of teachers, union organisers, Left party workers, and activists. My childhood in many ways was very simple but also enriching, surrounded by people that were engaged in wanting to make change in the world.

I also grew up in what’s called in India a joint family which is quite similar to the concept of whānau in Aotearoa. We had this one house where two of my dad’s sisters and seven brothers all lived together with my grandmother who was the matriarch and played a key role in holding the family together. I was brought up with 18 cousins and it was quite beautiful in terms of this idea of a collective and a broader whānau caring for each other. This collective played a big role in terms of my own learning and support because when I got a scholarship to go study in the US, for instance, even just arranging the flight ticket didn’t just fall on my dad. My uncles and cousins all chipped in to pay for that money and that is how the broader collective is organised.

What did you like learning when you were a child?

My interests were pretty wide ranging. I loved sciences very much and I did my undergraduate degree in engineering. I really loved maths, physics, biology, and at the same time I also loved English, geography and history.

Learning happened for me inside the classroom but also outside of the classroom and I learned being on picket lines with say an uncle or being a street performer. When I was around 11 or 12, I started performing in many street plays with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and often the plays were held at protest marches. When I was growing up, India had strong spaces of resistance against The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). And those were great moments of learning because they taught you in terms of the power of a broader collective and building registers for change against the individualising logics of neoliberalism.

Can you tell us about your most inspiring teacher and why?

My eldest uncle was the headmaster of the local school and I learned a lot witnessing how transformative his impact was, certainly not just in the small little community but in the broader township where we lived and his ability to touch lives.

I had another uncle who was a maths teacher and a union organiser. Early in the mornings on the weekends, children of many different ages would come to our house or sit down with him and learn in an open space. I think that those moments taught me that teaching can be transformative, it can create pathways of mobility for others, and it can make a big difference in society.

How and when did you decide what your career would be?

After I completed my undergraduate engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), I realised I didn’t want to continue with engineering and instead I wanted to do something that had to do with human beings and connecting with them and interacting with them.

It seemed to me that in very disenfranchised communities, the challenge of wellbeing was not one of developing engineering and more technical solutions, but really a challenge of communication in terms of how to communicate and where communities can have a voice in creating policies and solutions that address their needs.

I think that interest in wanting to develop a pedagogy of voice and how those communities have a say was the turning point. I realised that my training as an agricultural engineer at an elite Indian university that produces technology leaders (many CEOs and technopreneurs across the globe are IIT graduates) was quite limited because it didn’t really teach you how to work with the communities that you wanted to develop solutions for. Communication was and is often the missing link, when you consider the challenges of poverty, health and wellbeing, clean drinking water, decent work, inequality and justice outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals.

In one sentence can you describe the purpose of your present position?

I am the Director of Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) and what we do as a collective of researchers, community organisers, activists and communities, is to develop methods of communication and radical democracy so that communities can have a voice and really, have a say in the policies and solutions that are created, and in defining the futures that they would like to live in.

How did you decide to relocate CARE to New Zealand?

CARE’swork is with very disenfranchised communities and there can sometimes be some significant challenges when working within specific authoritarian contexts such as Singapore, neo-fascist India under the Modi regime, or China. Certainly, the Center was up against some significant state pressures when working with rights of low-wage migrant workers and questions of poverty in Singapore.

After pushing against the system and the structure for six years, I was at that point thinking what could this look like if CARE was in a system that was more aligned with its values and philosophy.

We had a number of choices in terms of whether to move the research centre to the US, and whether to move to some other parts of Asia such as Hong Kong, but New Zealand was really appealing because of the confluence of the politics and the ethics of care in the country.

Do you believe that what you do changes people’s lives?

Absolutely. I want to say this with humility, that as an academic who works on communication for social change, one learns very quickly that change takes a long time. It also takes a lot of commitment, not just in terms of one’s role as an academic but I think the commitment of people and communities and other researchers and activists to make change happen.

Having said that, I think that we have a lot of evidence that what we do actually impacts lives and contributes to better outcomes of health and wellbeing. For instance, when you witness our work in rural India in very disenfranchised indigenous communities living in extreme poverty, CARE’s work has translated into building sources of clean drinking water. These communities would otherwise have to dig deep into the ground and get water through a filtering process. In those contexts, we work on developing community democracy to get access through development structures and institutions to clean drinking water.

We work with people on developing methods of advocacy and activism and this very idea of community democracy succeeds in very tangible ways. From designing development infrastructures rooted in democracy to designing hospitals, cities, and health care systems that are anchored in social justice, CARE makes real impact in people’s lives. Also, our work in communities is not episodic. Instead, these are sustained interventions developed through a commitment of a lifetime.

What do you like doing when you’re not working?

Fatherhood brings much joy and meaning in my life. Debalina [wife] and I have three children and we hang out with them, take them places and play with them. That really takes up the rest of the time outside of work. I am privileged and blessed being a father and really enjoy it.

Source: Gabriella Davila, Senior Communications Advisor, Massey University.