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Day 9, Year of #Mygration: Brokers and diasporas at the BBC World Service

BBC tuning in

Eva Nieto-McAvoy of the Open University (OU) is presenting tomorrow 12 January at the Open University’s London offices in a Council of European Studies workshop on ‘Brokerage in a diverse Europe: Intermediaries, go-betweens and bridges’. One of the co-organisers of this workshop on 12 and 13 January 2018 is Sara de Jong, also of the OU. Eva’s presentation is on the collaborative work by Eva and Marie Gillespie, also of the OU, on transnational cultural intermediaries and brokers both at the BBC World Service and at the British Council. This is an opportunity to point those interested in migration to yet another research project at the OU.

Their recent chapter in Cosmopolitanism in Conflict addressed the very particular diasporic writers/cosmopolitan literary culture at the BBC World Service. They argue that the global reach and reputation of the BBC World Service as a trusted source of news and information was dependent on the translation skills of these diasporic writers and creative individuals employed by the BBC, the BBC’s diasporas.

It is by now well known that our Vice-Chancellor, Peter Horrocks, was previously the director of the BBC World Service and that the OU works in partnership with the wider BBC, for example on the much-admired Blue Planet II series with David Attenborough. Sir David was himself the Controller of BBC2 and then Director of Programmes on both BBC1 and BBC2 as the Open University was being developed and then first going ‘on air’.

What is less widely known is that our researchers independently offer critical insights into the BBC World Service as we seek to understand migration, migrants, refugees and diasporas. The success of the BBC World Service is a sign of the vibrant contributions to the world made by migrants. This evaluation shows the nuances of their exercises in translation and cultural ‘ventriloquism’ and how their common presence on air and behind the scenes belied diverse social experiences and political views.

The full citation for this chapter is: Gillespie M., Nieto McAvoy E. (2018) The BBC’s Corporate Cosmopolitanism: The Diasporic Voice Between Empire and Cold War in Gusejnova D (eds) Cosmopolitanism in Conflict, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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