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[ecrea] Call for Papers - Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in the Media Context

Sat Jun 02 08:02:18 GMT 2018

Call for Papers - Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in the Media Context II 21th Century's New Dystopian Imaginary. From George Orwell to Black Mirror. From Big Brother to Big Data

November 12-14/UBI, Covilhã, Portugal

University of Beira Interior, along with SOPCOM’s Political Communication Working Group, will be hosting the 2nd Conferences on Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in Media Context, between November 12th and 14h 2018, choosing as this edition’s subtopic 21th Century’s New Dystopian Imaginary. From George Orwell to Black Mirror. From Big Brother to Big Data.

Conceptual framework:

20th Century's dystopian predictions have become object of a recent revisitation. Donald Trump's election in the United States of America, the several xenophobic and ultra-nationalist threats emerging in different geographical and political contexts, populism phenomena, as well as excessive surveillance, counter-information, and the so-called "fake news" have drawn attention to some dystopian portrays conceived in the 20th Century which are now being considered an appropriate depiction of democracy and political communication's new pathologies.

The Huffington Post has published a text by Christian Fuchs examining Donald Trump's leadership style from the perspective of Theodor Adorno's worldview on authoritarian personality. The Guardian has turned to the Frankfurt School to analyze the now famous "alt-right" connected with Steve Bannon’s name. Neil Postman's essays have been recurrently referred around and about surveillance studies. The New York Review of Books has included essays speculating on which book best-anticipated new forms of political intervention within media context, after phenomena such as fake news and the infamous post-truth: would it be George Orwell's 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World? These two classics registered substantial increases in sales and popularity. The George Orwell essays on language were mentioned, in traditional press, following the phenomena of media manipulation. Cinephile memory was evoked alluding to films such as King Vidor's The Crowd. Finally, televised fiction itself has inaugurated a string of quality series pointing to a dystopian depiction of contemporary political communication, having Mr. Robot and Black Mirror as two of the most manifest examples.

In this Conference, participants are asked to privilege contemporary or classical sources with dystopian perspectives related to social mediatisation processes which are still currently able to translate a certain degree of topicality regarding contemporary phenomena.

Examples of such sources and references include:
- Social Science’s classical works; dystopian or critical approaches, such as Orwell's essays on literature and the writings of Canetti, Freud, Bakhtin, Adorno, Marcuse, Postman, among several other pertinent authors. - Classical Dystopian Literature: from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Robert L. Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hide, paradigmatic from the first reactions to scientific research and technological progress, other significant works have befallen, such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, Aldous Huxley's Island or Brave New World, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, Stephen King’s pseudonym Richard Bachman’s The Running Man, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, not forgetting the works from Doctorow, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick (the significant Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep), nor more recent novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, and Kristen Simmons´s Article 5. Among us, resorting to fantastic fiction has been employed to criticize consumption capitalism with José Saramago's Essay on Blindness.

Visual arts and some utterly diverse fictional perspectives include shows like Black Mirror, Mr. Robot, The Man on the High Castle, Altered Carbon or The Handmaid’s tale), films such as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Lars von Trier's Dogville, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, or King Vidor's The Crowd, comics like the unique works of Moebius or Enki Bilal, among many others, design (Dunne & Raby, Metahaven), and also other contemporary artistic forms with a deeply interventional and critical character.

Therefore, we aim to mobilize a wide diversity of classical and contemporary contributions which, departing from the perspectives of Communication Sciences, Critical Theory, Film Studies, Arts and Literary Studies, may allow us to approach elements of the new contemporary political landscape defined, among other social phenomena, by the presence of digital media.

Following the 1st Symposium on Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in Media Context, this second edition will also be structured after three thematic axes, useful to focus our attention on a few chosen phenomena.

1. Hyper-surveillance, and control mechanisms:
Within digital social networks and infotainment, invisibility, the right to forget and be forgotten, and the reserve of a private life acquire an almost subversive nature in an age defined by hyper-communication.

2. Leadership, transgression, and manipulation: "scandalogy" as a new science of communication? The media staging of power mobilizes protagonists to a reality in which rationality and public responsibility are confronted with multiple risks of scandal arising from a permanent state of collective scrutiny. "Scandalogy" is a concept already used to project the study of image crisis’ phenomena, increasingly emerging due to the opportunities of political exposure. On the other hand, opportunities to mobilize data in order to reinforce manifestations of panic or alarm are becoming more evident. Concepts such as "information", "agenda-setting " and "participation" are being challenged today by a an almost belligerent mobilization of media resources.

3. Identities and policies of life in a hyper-mediated society
Recent developments on the recognition of women’s rights and promotion of new affirmative policies intended to improve gender equality coincide with an ever-increasing controversy around the concept of "political correctness". At the same time, while affirmations concerning human dignity appear to be progressively incorporated in political discourse, phenomena such as xenophobia, misogyny, racism, cultural, racial and ethnic confrontation, and, at the limit, the proliferation of genocides, rise to a previously unimaginable proportion and extent.


Considering this context,

A) Labcom.IFP and the Organizing Committee invite all researchers, artists, performers, and activists interested in examining such issues (as much from classical as from contemporary references) to present an expanded abstract of 600 words in which social-scientific approaches, fictional topics, or their multiple possible combinations are to be discussed. If the presentation consists in a documentary, short film or animation, the author(s) must submit both a synopsis and a 2,5 minutes sample of the proposal.

B) After the blind peer reviewing process, 45 submissions will be selected. Those submissions may assume the form of Case Studies, Empirical Observations, Literature Reviews, Essays, Documentaries, Short films and Animations.

C) Essays and Scientific papers should not exceed 10 pages, intended to a fifteen-minute presentation. Documentaries, short films, and animations are to be presented in digital format and have a maximum duration of 10 minutes, since their full presentation must also not exceed fifteen minutes. Each of these three axes will include a plenary panel, with national and international guest keynote speakers. Each plenary panel will then be followed by three parallel thematic sessions, each of them containing five of the selected presentations, to a total of 45 peer reviewed participations.

D) Abstracts and synopses must be submitted - both in English and in the original language of the selected works, until June 15, at 6:00 p.m. Author's acceptance notification will be announced by the end of the first week of July. Non-selected proposals will not receive any notification.

E) The written submissions will be published, either in a scientific journal or in the Conference's Proceedings, with ISBN.

F) The audiovisual and / or non-written submissions will be displayed in a proper digital platform.

G) All the authors with accepted proposals must formalize and pay their registration.

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