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[ecrea] Call for Papers: Hate speech as political communication; global uses and abuses

Sat Mar 10 11:33:30 GMT 2018

*International workshop/conference*

*Title: Hate speech as political communication; global uses and abuses*

*Convenors: Dina Matar, Centre for Global Media and Communication & Matti Pohjonen, researcher/research associate CGMC*


*Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS*

*Date: 31 May 2018*

*Time 10:00 to 17:00*


*Call for papers:*

The public, and intellectual, mood about new media's promise to bring about positive change globally has recently turned eerily grim: the wisdom of crowds has been replaced by disinformation and fake news; grassroots activism by populism identified by its use of racist, xenophobic and misogynist hate speech and images in public and media spaces. Indeed, it seems that one of the most urgent debates in our contemporary social and political lives has become the way communication is now failing us. While there is increasing concern over terrorist recruitment campaigns on social media, coordinated troll attacks aimed at silencing critical voices. Twitter bots manipulating social media popularity rankings; online ecosystems of fake news influencing elections and eroding the foundations of democracy itself and offline strategies and actions, there is no scholarly agreement, let alone a common vocabulary, on how to understand the ill-effects of “internet freedoms” or how to relate them to the much contested concept of freedom of speech.

Much of the academic writing on hate speech remains concerned with cause-and-effect, and, in particular, with tracking how or whether negative online speech can lead to violence in digital spaces, neglecting other spaces where this phenomenon is also prominent. The expanding literature suggests that online activity can indeed contribute to violence offline in some cases, but it remains theoretically unspecified what the differentiated role of “online” activity is, and how this causal or quasi-causal relationship can be determined. Furthermore, there is little or no attention to different, and perhaps contextual, understandings of the “right to communicate” (often referred to as ‘freedom of speech’) or to what specific media regulations are in place in diverse political/cultural contexts. Finally, while much scholarly attention has been accorded to the rise of online hate speech in the Western world particularly in the context of migration and Islamophobia, little attention has been paid to similar phenomena in Asia, Africa and the Middle East where different socio-historical contexts and histories of media practices and political uses of hate speech need to be acknowledged.

This conference/workshop seeks to move beyond the relatively safe purview of Western liberal democracies and address how hate/extreme speech has also been widely used and misused as a proxy for all other kinds of other political purposes by different actors. Indeed, as Gagliardone at al (2015) write that "accusations of fomenting hate speech may be traded among political opponents or used by those in power to curb dissent and criticism (2015: 10)." The freedom of speech organisation, Article 19 (2015: 16), similarly cautions against "too readily identifying expressions as "hate speech" ... as its use can also have negative consequences ... and can be abused to justify inappropriate restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, in particular in cases of marginalised or vulnerable communities." These concerns become more urgent to address in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America where contexts of protracted conflict and displacement, control measures by political elites and would-be political actors, as well as the absence of a consensual approach to understanding what ‘the right to communicate’ means, complicate analysis further.

Given these difficulties and the widespread rise in the hate speech phenomena worldwide, this one-day conference/workshop approaches these important debates about hate speech/extreme speech through a comparative perspective. Rather than asking what the “effects” of "hate speech" are, it will instead look at how hate speech online as well as in other spaces has been used as a /distinct form of political communication practice /that emerges in diverse//cultures of communication in different parts of the world. Foregrounding cultures of communication in the analysis allows us to focus on the symbiotic relationship between language, culture and politics as well as on diverse practices and particular histories of speech cultures.By using comparative approaches that address when and what form does hate speech take, and by which actors, we hope tocomplicate the discourse of media “risk” increasingly invoked to legitimate speech restrictions and ask questions about how and under which circumstances do different actors engage in online and offline vitriol and their implications, thus widening the lens beyond the West and turns the focus on the rapidly expanding media worlds of the global South.

We are interested in arguments/articles around mediated hate speech in non-Western contexts, including countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East, South America and their diasporas. Topics include but are not limited to:

·Hate speech in the context of social, political and ethnic conflict

·Hate speech and freedom of expression

·Media regulation, law and hate speech

·Gendering hate speech

·Hate speech as a form of media practice

·Vernacular language and hate speech

·Hate speech as a form of political violence and/or resistance

·The uses and abuses of hate speech as instruments of power and control

·Genealogies of online hate cultures

·Hate speech and theories of political communication

Please send your abstracts (300 words) to Dina Matar at (dm27 /at/ <mailto:(dm27 /at/>by 31st of March, 2018.

Notifications about acceptance will be sent by 14th of April.

Abstracts should contain an outline of the argument and how it fits the theme of the workshop.  Please include a brief biography and affiliation together with the abstracts.

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