© Media Watch 6 (1) 43-56, 2015
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
Advertising and Ethnicities: A Comparative Study of Sri Lanka and Northeast India
University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
Ethnicity has become a key interest of advertisers in diverse societies. Contrary to the popular argument that ethnic identities are threatened by the intensified influence of media and consumer culture, they have become the core sites of representation and reproduction of ethnic identities. It is arguable that in today’s (mass) mediated societies there are no ways of imagining ethnicities without the media’s influence and impact on them. Advertising1, no longer a mere commercial activity, is an important component of popular culture and hence plays a crucial part in the social and cultural life of our times. Sri Lanka2 has long been a country of communal unrest, which culminated in a civil war. Northeast India is a region where a number of conflicting identities are in a constant battle of production and reproduction. The ways the ethnic identities are represented in advertisements in these two societies are worthy of studying in this context. When ad-makers segment a market for a particular brand, they mostly rely on ethnic identities. As a result, advertisements too become a site of reproduction of ethnic identities. This paper is intended to identify and analyze the ways of representations of ethnic identities in advertisements in Northeast India3 and Sri Lanka by a comparative reading of a sample of print and electronic advertisements.
Keywords: Ethnic marketing, imagining, representation, reproduction, text
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Darshana Liyanage is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sinhala at the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. He is currently reading for his PhD at the Department of Cultural Studies, Tezpur University, Assam, India on a commonwealth fellowship.