White Papers


ISSUE 12 (AUGUST 2021)

A culture-centered approach to hate speech regulation

by Mohan J. Dutta, Pooja Jayan, Md Mahbubur Rahman, Christine Elers,
Francine Whittfield , CARE Massey University

We begin this response by noting that laws against incitement of hate are necessary in extreme situations. However, a culture-centered analysis suggests that laws against incitement are not effective in transforming cultures of intolerance and hate that are held up by powerful political and economic interests[1]. Those in places of power deploy hate to serve their political and economic gains. Simultaneously, we note that powerful political and economic interests use hate speech laws to silence dissent and erase articulations from the margins. As anti-racist academics and activists, collaborating with social justice activists, we have experienced and witnessed the silencing processes through manipulation of legal frameworks around hate speech. Our activist collaborators have been harassed and persecuted by authoritarian states under the guise of promoting racial and/or religious harmony[2]. It is vital to critically interrogate the individualization of hate in laws against incitement. Instead, structural transformations are needed in the form of policies that are explicitly anti-discriminatory, guarantee and support equality of vulnerable communities, and protect the fundamental human rights of vulnerable groups[3]. We propose a culture-centered policy framework to addressing hate speech that tackles the political economy of hate and builds communicative infrastructures for the voices of communities at the “margins of the margins.”[4]

ISSUE 11 (MAY 2021)

Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia

by Prof. Mohan J. Dutta, Director CARE, Massey University

Cultural Hindutva is a key resource of the Hindutva ideology, asserting the supremacy of Hindu nationalism through cultural forms, artefacts, and performances(i). Hindu nationalism organizes around the political conceptualization of India as a Hindu nation, working simultaneously through the erasure of Christians and Muslims that are portrayed as invaders. Of particular salience to Hindutva is the portrayal of the Muslim invader(ii), re-structuring India as a nation on the principles of Islamophobia, through the disenfranchisement of the Muslim other(iii).



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.

ISSUE 9. (JULY 2020)

Relocating the Health of Transgender Sex Workers in Singapore from the Margins: A Culture-Centered Approach

While there is high visibility of LGBT advocacy in Singapore, transgender[1] persons comprise a small, marginalized portion of the community, an even smaller proportion of which tend to go into sex work at a young age for various economic, social and cultural factors. Transgender sex workers (TSW) in Singapore comprise a marginalized community that has been identified by health authorities as one that is high risk of HIV/AIDS and other STIs, as with cisgender[2] female sex workers. They are further marginalized for their status as sex workers in an Asian society where sex outside of marriage is considered deviant behavior (Banerjee, 2000; Allard K Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, 2015). Sex work for transgender persons embodies an array of vulnerabilities ranging from income instability and health insecurities to everyday experiences of discrimination and communicative inequalities in articulating the problems faced by transgender sex workers (Perez-Brumer, 2016). Neoliberal state laws and policies in Singapore acknowledge that while sex work cannot be eradicated as this may force the activities underground and encourage organized crime, sex trafficking and public health risks (Singapore Parliament Reports), these laws do not deem sex work itself as illegal, but criminalize sex work-related activities such as soliciting, pimping, and owning brothels (Misc. Offences Act Art 19; Women’s Charter Art 146; Women’s Charter Art 148). Migrant sex workers are increasingly vulnerable, and may face arrest, fines, deportation and bans from the state for 3 years or more (Immigration Act Art 8(3)(e)(f); Allard K Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, 2015).

[1]  We use transgender as an umbrella term for persons who challenge gender normativity, which includes persons who identify as transfeminine, transmasculine, transsexual, hijra, genderqueer, female-to-male (FTM), male-to-female (MTF), intersex and more. In general, transgender refers to someone whose gender differs from that assigned at birth.

[2] ‘Cisgender’ refers to a person whose gender identity i.e. woman or man aligns with their assigned sex at birth.

ISSUE 8. (APRIL 2020)

Structural constraints, voice infrastructures, and mental health among low-wage migrant workers in Singapore: Solutions for addressing COVID19

Mohan J. Dutta Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation, Massey University

Responding to the continued rise in COVID19 clusters in migrant worker dormitories in Singapore, and building on earlier research (See CARE White paper Issue 6), this White Paper reports on the findings of a survey conducted with low-wage migrant workers in Singapore. In addition to the poor living conditions highlighted earlier, the structural constraints on preventive behavior are explored. Drawing on the key tenets of the culture-centered approach, the research highlights the powerful role of structural factors such as arrangements of dormitories, the absence of hygienic conditions because of the structures, the lack of clean toilets, pressure on limited toilets, and scarcity of water. The findings highlight the challenges to mental health and wellbeing experienced by the workers. Moreover, it points to the absence of voice infrastructures, and the ways in which this absence contributes to conditions that are rife for the pandemic. Solutions for structural solutions and voice democracy are offered.

ISSUE 7. (APRIL 2020)

Culture-centered community-led testing

Gayle Moana – Johnson, CARE – Community Research Assistant and Mohan J. Dutta, Director,Center for Culture – centered Approach to Research & Evaluation Massey University

In this white paper, the community advisory group in Highbury, working with community researcher Gayle Moana-Johnson, developed the key conceptual guidelines for culture-centered community-grounded testing. The white paper highlights the key concepts anchoring the partnership between the community advisory group and the clinical team at HHPNZ

This white paper outlines the key principles of culture-centered community-led testing that are voiced by the advisory group of community members in Highbury, anchored in the principle of representing the most “in-need” members of the community (referred in the rest of this white paper as the “margins of the margins”). The key ideas in this white paper are developed as anchoring principles for the partnership between the community advisory group and the Health Hub Project New Zealand (HHPNZ).

ISSUE 6. (APRIL 2020)

Infrastructures of housing and food for low-wage migrant workers in Singapore

Mohan J. Dutta Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation, Massey University

Courtesy Julio Etchart as part of CARE’s “Respect Migrant Rights” campaign in Singapore

The high incidence of COVID-19 cases in dormitories housing low-wage migrant workers in Singapore makes visible the structural challenges of poor housing and food. Building on CARE’s ongoing work with low-wage migrant workers in Singapore, this white paper presents imaginaries for healthy housing and food voiced by low-wage migrant workers.

ISSUE 5. (APRIL 2020)

Challenges To Seeking Health Information And Healthcare Among
Low Income Communities Amid COVID19

Mohan J. Dutta Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation, Massey University

The findings reported here are drawn from our advisory group of community members that represent the community in Highbury. The advisory group has been built on the basis of purposive sampling, ensuring that the voices of the “margins of the margins” are represented. The advisory group meets face-to-face as well as on a digital platform. The group is facilitated by two community researchers, recruited from within the advisory group and trained in the fundamentals of interview-based research.

ISSUE 4. (MARCH 2020)

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Package

Christine Elers (Ngā Hau), Junior Research Officer, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research & Evaluation (CARE)

We are writing about the government’s covid-19 wage subsidy package, in particular:

  • the sick leave payment due to be folded into the modified covid-19 wage subsidy package; and
  • the online publication outlining the names of all employers who have received the covid-19 wage subsidy package.

ISSUE 3. (APRIL 2020)

The limits of the “Singapore Model” in COVID-19 response: Why authoritarian governmentality is not the solution

Mohan J. Dutta, Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE)

A wide range of models have been proposed as frameworks for responding to Covid-19. These models highlight the significance of health
communication in preventing the spread of COVID19 as well as in effectively responding to it. The positioning of specific models as solutions to COVID-19 is tied to the creation of actual strategies of response
globally. One such model that has been rapidly disseminated in policy discourse and circulated in articulations of COVID response is the “Singapore Model.” Drawing on the key tenets of the CCA, this paper will examine the premise of the “Singapore Model” as a framework for global health.

The white paper draws on the key tenets of the CCA to examine Singapore’s pandemic response. The CCA foregrounds the interplays of culture, structure, and agency in the constructions of health meanings and the development of health solutions.

Structure refers to the political economy of organizing resources in society. Culture reflects the community norms, community-based meanings, and community values guiding relational negotiations of health and wellbeing. Agency reflects the relational and collective capacities of communities to develop solutions.

ISSUE 2. (MARCH 2020)

A culture-centered approach to pandemic response: Voice, Universal Infrastructure, and Equality

Mohan J. Dutta, Director, Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE)

the global nodes of spread of Covid-19 highlight the significance of health communication in preventing the spread as well as in effectively responding to it. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Noting the aggressive movement of the virus across countries, with eight countries reporting more than 1000 cases of COVID-19, the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Drawing on critical analyses of the pandemic and crises response literatures as well as building on the experiences of CARE in developing culture-centered community grounded interventions,this white paper outlines the culture-centered approach to pandemic response, specifically directed at offering culturecentered guidelines for effective communication. The culture-centered approach foregrounds the interplays of culture, structure, and agency in the constructions of health meanings and the development of health solutions.


Exploring challenges: A Culture-Centred Approach (CCA) project in Glen Innes

Dr Phoebe Elers, Dr Steve Elers and Professor Mohan Dutta

This study explores the challenges experienced by residents in Glen Innes, Auckland. The findings have assisted in the identification of local problems and corresponding solutions, including the ‘Poverty is Not Our Future’ campaign, which has served as anchor for residents to challenge dominant structures and, at the same time, communicate their everyday realities of poverty. While this study is focused on Glen Innes, material hardship continues to be a significant issue in Aotearoa New Zealand, with research determining that 13 percent of children lived in households that experienced material hardship in the 2017/18 financial year (Statistics New Zealand, 2019) and that children born into disadvantage in Aotearoa New Zealand have a significant likelihood of remaining disadvantaged (New Zealand Treasury, 2016a, 2016b; Templeton, 2016).



ISSUE 5. (AUGUST 2019)

Solidarity in anti-racist struggles: A culture-centered intervention

Teanau Tuiono and Mohan J. Dutta

In this white paper, we depict
solidarity as the organizing concept
for addressing racism in Aotearoa,
New Zealand. After defining the
concept of solidarity, we address the
questions: Why do we need solidarity
in activist and advocacy interventions
seeking to address racism? What does
solidarity look like in struggles
against racism? We wrap up the
white paper with key elements drawn
from our dialogue, foregrounding
“seeing connections” as a way for
bringing together anti-racist, anticapitalist,
and decolonial struggles.
Seeing Whiteness as the very basis for
the production of various forms of
marginalization sets up the
groundwork for anti-racist struggles.



ISSUE 4. (AUGUST 2019)

Ihumātao protest, colonization, and cultural voice

Christine Elers & Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

The erasure of indigenous voice goes hand-in-hand with the occupation of indigenous land. What we witness over the past seven years at Ihumātao, as an extension of over a century of colonialism in Aotearoa, is the deployment of colonial tactics to erase and silence the voices of indigenous Māori peoples. Through a variety of tactics the controls over which are held by the colonizers, Māori voices resisting colonialism are silenced. The very uses of communicative strategies of indigenous participation are deployed in logics established by the colonizer to prop up and perpetuate the colonial-capitalist structure, with the state making claims to having created opportunities for participation. The capitalist interests, served through naturalized logics of the market, reflect the oppressive nature of colonialism, all the while working to erase through the very performance of tools of participation and engagement. In this backdrop, drawing from the ongoing protests at Ihumātao, in this white paper, we attend to the organizing role of indigenous voice as the basis for dismantling colonial capitalism. The Māori voice of resistance in Ihumātao, resounds with indigenous voices in Hawaii, who are protecting their sacred land – Mauna Kea from the construction and intrusion of a giant telescope on the summit.  Elsewhere across the globe the plurivocality of resistance offer pathways for addressing the very challenges that have been brought on by the accelerated corporate-colonialism of neoliberal governmentality.

Elers, C., & Dutta, M. (2019). Ihumātao protest, colonization, and cultural voice. CARE WHITE PAPER SERIES,[online] (Issue 4) pp.1-5.Available at: http://sites.massey.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/sites/68/2019/08/White_Paper_Christine_Elers_Mohan_Dutta_06_Aug_2019.pdf


Article: Ihumātao protest, colonization, and cultural voice





Dr Murdoch Stephens & Professor Mohan J Dutta

The attached white paper – The state helps the refugee speak: dialogue, ventriloquism or something else? – on the funding of refugee voice organisations was prepared between November 2018 and April 2019. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on two Mosques in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 the need to address the issue of refugee support organisations becomes acute as they a significant role in the representation of many Muslim citizens in New Zealand. Specifically, the lack of funding for organisations that are tasked with connecting with refugee communities and representing those voices to government, media and the public undermined the ability of these organisations to respond after the attacks. We particularly note the absence of “democratic communication infrastructures” owned by refugees for representing their voices in New Zealand. (Stephens and J Dutta, 2019)

Stephens, D. & Dutta, M. (2018). Strengthening Refugee Voices in New Zealand. CARE WHITE PAPER SERIES, [online] (Issue 3), pp.1-17. Available at: http://sites.massey.ac.nz/wp-content/uploads/sites/68/2019/06/Strengthening-Refugee-Voices-in-NZ.pdf.

Article: Strengthening Refugee Voices in New Zealand


Academic-activist partnerships in struggles of the oppressed

Dr. Sue Bradford & Prof. Mohan Dutta

In this advocacy brief, we examine the transformative capacity of collaboration between academics and activists offering a pivotal anchor for local-national-global resistance. In the white paper on academic-activist partnerships, Dr. Sue Bradford and Professor Mohan Dutta draw from their journeys in academia and activist organizing to examine the intersections, synergies, challenges to, and lessons for academic activist partnerships. Questioning the meaning of collaboration and the nature of collaborative spaces in social change, the authors offer a conceptual framework for collaboration that joins in solidarity with the struggles of the oppressed.

Bradford, D. and Dutta, P. (2018). Academic-activist partnerships in struggles of the oppressed. CARE WHITE PAPER SERIES, (Issue 2).


Article: Academic-activist partnerships in struggles of the oppressed



Sexual Violence on University Campuses-Communication Interventions

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta & Ms. Braema Mathi

In this advocacy brief, we examine the nature of sexual violence on university campuses, the effects of sexual violence, and the role of communication in preventing as well as responding to sexual violence. Based on our review of the literature, we offer strategies for communication advocacy directed at addressing sexual violence veon university campuses.

Dutta, P. and Mathi, M. (2018). Sexual Violence on University Campuses: Communication Interventions. CARE WHITE PAPER SERIES, (Issue 1).


Article:Sexual Violence on University Campuses-Communication Interventions




VOL 2. (APRIL 2016) Dutta, et al., (2016). Culture-Centered Method: The nuts and bolts of co-creating communication infrastructures of listening in communities. CARE White Paper Series, 2 New! Dutta, et al., (2016). Metode-Berbasis Budaya. Culture-Centered Method: The nuts and bolts of co-creating communication infrastructures of listening in communities in Bahasa Indonesia. CARE White Paper Series, 2 

VOL 1. (APRIL 2016)  Dutta, M., Tan, M., & Rathina-Pandi. (2016). Singaporeans Left Behind: A Culture-Centered Study of the Poverty Experience in Singapore. CARE White Paper Series, 1 New!


VOL 1. (JUNE 2015) Dutta, M. (2015). Food Insecurity and Health of Bangladeshi Workers in Singapore: A Culture-Centered Study. CARE White Paper Series, 1.


VOL 2. (OCT 2014) Dutta, M., Kaur, S. & Comer, S. (2014). “Respect our Rights” – Voices of Foreign Domestic Workers Negotiating Structures. CARE White Paper Series, 2.

VOL 2. (FEB 2014) Teo, D., & Dutta, M. (2014). HIV Prevention Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A culturally-centered framework for interventions. CARE White Paper Series, 2.

VOL 1. (FEB 2014) Dutta, M., Thaker, J., & Abid, A. (2014). Bt brinjal: A review of key debates. CARE White Paper Series, 1. VOL 1. (FEB 2014) Thaker, J., & Dutta, M. (2014). Bt cotton, scientific studies, and power circuits: Culturally-centering science. CARE White Paper Series, 1


VOL 1. (MAR 2013) Comer, S., & Dutta, M. (2013). Women’s heart health in Singapore: A culture-centered framework. CARE White Paper Series, 1.


VOL 2. (SEP 2012) Dutta, M. (2012). Globalization, health inequities, and structural transformation: A Culture-Centered Approach to communication for social justice. CARE White Paper Series, 2.

VOL. 1 (AUG 2012) Dutta, M. (2012). A cross-sectional survey of public opinion toward Affordable Care Act in Indiana. CARE White Paper Series, 1. Dutta, M. (2012). US public opinion on healthcare reform: A cross-sectional survey. CARE White Paper Series, 1.