MEDIA AND IMPERIALISM
Press, Photography, Film, Radio and Television in the Era of Modern Imperialism
Amsterdam, July 18th-21st 2007
An international conference organised by the University of Amsterdam, dept. Media Studies in close cooperation with the International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) and Utrecht University
We are entering a whole new era where the circulation of images is concerned, due to the large-scale digitisation of archives and collections, which has revolutionised existing practices of preservation, retrieval and distribution. We signal therefore an urgent need to rethink the relationship between media and modern imperialism, particularly in light of the complex process of globalisation. These developments invoke critical discussions between various disciplines, such as media studies, ethnology and history.
The conference will focus on the politics of representation and media practices, from the emergence of mass media and modern imperialism in the mid-nineteenth century, to the successive episodes of decolonisation, as well as on more current issues surrounding heritage and ownership of media collections.
The conference welcomes papers from disciplines such as history, anthropology, media studies, history of art, visual culture studies, social and political science, literary and cultural studies. The organisers welcome participation from all over the world.
The conference sessions will be grouped together under four overarching themes:
1. Exhibiting Imperialism
Images and media artefacts (re)presenting imperialism provide the centre of attention for media archivists all over the world, who are trying to make this rich visual heritage available for contemporary media use (e.g. documentaries, fiction films, Internet...) and to preserve it for future generations. The conference organisers welcome papers exploring the aesthetical and ethical questions this development poses, by scholars as well as archivists.
2. Imagined Empires and Mediated Colonies
Media has played a crucial role in the construction of imagined communities and identities, and as an instrument for political power and cultural radiance within imperial and colonized societies. This theme would include the circulation and appropriation of diverse media technologies, and the impact this has had on the production, diffusion and reception of media contents.
3. Reversing the Lens
Representations of imperialism and colonialism have often been shaped by power relations. Although media ownership, regulation and literacy clearly reflect political, social and cultural inequalities, the use and 'readings' of these media by its audiences often escape the control mechanisms of imperial rule due to processes of interaction, appropriation and negotiation. The conference committee welcomes papers that look at alternative and oppositional patterns in media culture, particularly coming from non-dominant groups and underprivileged individuals.
4. Imperial imaginary and the contemporary gaze
Following recent strands in cultural theory, media studies, historiography and the social sciences, it seems researchers and media producers are urged to become more self-reflexive and critical of their own approaches towards media representations produced in imperial contexts. They are invited to consider the question: whose story is really being told? We would welcome papers reflecting on the methodological and ethical problems posed by historical narratives on colonialism and imperialism in the media, ranging from documentaries, fiction films and television histories, to schoolbooks and exhibitions.
DEADLINE: Paper proposals (200 words + short cv) are to be submitted before December 21st, 2006
IAMHIST XXII: Media and Imperialism
University of Amsterdam
Department of Media Studies
1012 XT Amsterdam
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