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Call for Papers -- New Media, New Politics? (post-) Revolutions in Theory and Practice? (London, 26 April 2013)

[Sign from 2011 protests in Egypt. Image by Sherif9282 via Wikimedia Commons] [Sign from 2011 protests in Egypt. Image by Sherif9282 via Wikimedia Commons]

New Media, New Politics?(post-) Revolutions in Theory and Practice
Friday, 26 April, 2013
University of Westminster, London, UK

It has been two years since the world witnessed millions of Arabs march, strike and fight to remove their repressive regimes. As the Arab popular struggles coincided with a deepening global economic crisis, they found resonance across the globe. We saw the Occupy Movement and Spain’s indignados referring to Tahrir Square, exchanging mutual messages of support. The combination of satellite and internet communication and its contribution to such exchanges and to people’s political consciousness was unparalleled in the history of revolutions. Yet much has changed in two years and the region remains susceptible to interventions at local, regional and global levels.

While initial analyses of media’s role in the turmoil were erratic, at least scholarly tendencies to essentialise the Middle East were shaken. The revolutions simultaneously undermine and foster dominant modes of knowledge production and compel us more strongly than ever to situate our research in the context of state and class power. Accelerating digitisation of culture continues to shape and reshape the way political movements operate, calculate and narrate their politics. There is ultimately a single continuum of contradiction: the revolutions were and are strongly shaped by contradictions, making them notoriously complex and difficult to understand at the levels of theory and mediation. Instead of reiterating prevailing views, this conference will benefit from a two-year perspective on the uprisings to engage in deep critical reflection.

We identify three key phases of analysis: pre-revolution (to December 2010), tipping-point (to March 2011), post-revolution (to the present). Unwrapping the revolutionary epoch in this manner allows new social patterns and dialectical relations to emerge. The conference will address two main tasks. The first is to deconstruct media-related interactions during the three phases. The second is to consider the framing of analytical interventions and mediated articulations of the Arab revolutions in order to question the production of knowledge about them. We welcome papers from scholars and activists that engage critically with sub-themes that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The role of media and communication technologies during previous (e.g. anti-colonial) struggles and what these past experiences tell us about the present
  • Rethinking legacies and lessons of key paradigmatic trends (Orientalism, postmodernism, liberalism, Marxism)
  • How Arab activists’ self-portrayals compare with mass-mediated projections
  • Geo-political interests at work in investigations into internet activism
  • Socio-political implications of the global financial crisis and/or imperialism for different media and communication technologies
  • Everyday utilisation of new media in different demographies (gender, age etc) and geographies (urban/rural, centre/periphery)
  • The impact of digital culture on popular perceptions and, in due course, the construction of collective memory.

We aim to publish selected papers in an edited volume focusing on the juxtaposition of new media, new political organising and alternative frames of analysis.

Programme and Registration

This one-day conference, taking place on Friday, 26th April 2013, will consist of plenaries and parallel workshops to raise new critical insights across disciplinary and geographical boundaries in a collaborative manner. The fee for registration for all participants, including presenters, will be £99, with a concessionary rate of £49 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs. Registration will open in February 2013.

Deadline for Abstracts

The deadline for abstracts is January 15th, 2013. Successful applicants will be notified early February 2013. Abstracts should be 300 words. They must include the presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal addresses, together with the title of the paper and a 150-word biographical note on the presenter.  The abstract should be sent by email to the Events Administrator, Helen Cohen, at journalism@westminster.ac.uk.

Travel Expenses

The Arab Media Centre intends to apply for funding to assist with travel bursaries of selected participants whose own institutions are unable to provide the necessary support. Anyone anticipating that they will need support should make this known when sending their abstract but should also make alternative arrangements in case the funding application is unsuccessful.

 

If you prefer, email your comments to info@jadaliyya.com.

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