[Air-L] CFP: Articulating Alternatives

Eleftheria L. eleftheria.lekakis at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 05:24:10 PST 2012

Apologies for cross-posting.


*CFP: Articulating alternatives: agents, spaces and communication in/of a
time of crisis*

*A workshop for new scholars hosted by the Centre for the Study of Global
Media and Democracy, Goldsmiths, University of London, May 3rd, 2012.*

This is a workshop which addresses a series of issues around the mediation
of political life in a time of crisis. The last couple of decades have
witnessed the intensification of the neoliberal logic, culminating in a
profound crisis of capitalism. This has been accompanied by the widespread
de-legitimisation of political institutions as citizens lose trust in the
political process and confidence in the capacity of political elites to
protect their interests. Concomitantly, recent years have seen the
emergence of a myriad of actors (from indigenous people’s movements to
alter-globalisation movements to current mobilisations like the Arab Spring
and the Occupy movement), which challenge the neoliberal hegemony and seek
to construct alternatives. Such actors are engaged in various forms of
knowledge production oriented towards the development of critiques of the
current system as well as the elaboration of alternative forms of economic,
social, and political organisation.

In the workshop, we wish to explore some of the complexities of the
relationship between mediated communication and politics in a time of
crisis. The intensive mobilisation of citizens around the world raises a
number of questions in relation to how agents of transformation are
constructing political vernaculars and actions at different scales and
across different sites, both physical and virtual. The notion of a politics
of crisis is set as a framework for the exploration of the agencies, spaces
and communication practices of counter-capitalist voices.

Pertinent here is the addressing of the structures of both the nation-state
and global economic actors where the use of digital communication channels
ranges from information-spreading to organisation and mobilisation. Many
recent protests have been distinctly invested in particular localities
(squares, streets), but appear to also express a sense of globality
(evident for example in the argued global reach of the Occupy movement).
New communication technologies appear to be offering unprecedented
opportunities for the dissemination and elaboration of ideas, potentially
playing a significant role in social processes of knowledge production and
the articulation of alternatives. At the same time, conventional media are
arguably in a state of crisis, arising from tendencies of commercialisation
and concentration of ownership. As the media lose the confidence of their
publics and thus their privileged epistemic status, questions are raised
about their capacity to foster democratic public spheres.

 We are interested in addressing questions in relation to the discursive
construction of alternatives, the agents involved in these processes, the
spaces that are being opened up for articulation and action, as well as the
modes of politics which characterise the current time of crisis. The themes
we wish to explore include:

-          *Agents*. Are there new actors emerging in the context of
political, economic and social crises? What form do such actors take, and
what kinds of politics do they engage in? What role do conventional media
as well as new information and communication technologies play in the
emergence and organisation of such actors? How might media contribute to
the elaboration of alternatives and the construction of transnational
solidarity across geopolitical boundaries?

-          *Spaces*. How do the geography and spatiality of politics impact
on the perspectives and claims arising in resistance to capitalism? What
spatialities and scales are enacted through current modes of political
praxis and forms of communication? What is the ‘place of place’ in
contemporary political practices and discourses, and how does this relate
to the ‘national’, ‘transnational’ or ‘global’? What role do media play in
the politics of place and scale? Where does the matter of politics exhibit
itself both online and offline?

-          *Communication*. How can we conceptualise the relationship
between media and citizenship in the current climate of crisis? What role
do the media play in the communication of a politics of crisis? How might
media be implicated in the continued subalternisation, exclusion or
incorporation of alternative/emergent knowledges and practices? Can the
mainstream media be reformed to resume their (idealised?) democratic
function as the guarantors of an open democratic public sphere? Or should
we instead entrust our hopes to the burgeoning field of social and
citizens’ media?

In order to facilitate in-depth discussion and collective knowledge
production, the workshop will be restricted to a limited number of
participants. We welcome submissions of original work from early-career
researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including (but not
limited to): media and communications, sociology, politics, anthropology,
cultural studies, geography, and information studies. Interested
participants should submit a 250 word abstract and brief biography by March
15th, 2012 to Eleftheria Lekakis (e.lekakis at gold.ac.uk
<h.choi at qut.edu.au>)and Hilde Stephansen (
h.stephansen at gold.ac.uk). The authors of successful abstracts will be
notified by March 22nd, 2012 and are invited to submit working papers of
between 1500-3000 words in advance of the workshop.

Research Fellow
Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy
Department of Media and Communications
Goldsmiths College, University of London
New Cross, London, SE14 6NW
United Kingdom

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