Anthropology and Journalism. Two professions between competition, cooperation and legitimacy.
Call for Papers Date:
The dossier of Tsantsa 15/2010, the journal of the Swiss society of social anthropology, attempts to shed light on the relationship between anthropology and journalism, and on how each profession is using the information generated by the other.
Deadline for declaration of interest: March 1st, 2009
Deadline for articles: July 15th, 2009
The importance of public media for the perception, structuring and interpretation of the world has not diminished with the global spread of the internet and the corresponding multiplication of potentially competing frameworks of interpretation on the contrary. Because of their differing treatment of information and work routine, anthropologists and ethnologists often harbour a deep-seated mistrust towards journalists, and postulate a sharp divide between journalism and science: International journalists might cover a hostage situation in an embassy in Central Asia on one day, to cover another crisis situation in a totally different part of the world the next. Similarly, local journalists can report today about the political developments in a community, and tomorrow write about the integration of troublesome youths, an entirely different topic. In contrast to this style of working, long-term fieldwork and a deep knowledge of the subject remain foremost at least in ideal terms for anthropologists. In those domains, in which anthropologists offer explanations of the world, mass media are often seen as illegitimate, simplifying and much more effective competitors in the interpretation of structures and events. This raises questions not only about the professional legitimacy, but also about the relevance of anthropologists.
Parallel to this competition, however, exist various forms of cooperation between journalism and anthropology: many anthropologists use information prepared by the mass media, be it with or without an explicit consideration of conflicts of interest in reporting, the existence of censorship and other media-specific distortions. Consciously or not, acknowledged, hidden or simply forgotten, or maybe declared as secondary information, the use of such data is frequent.
Through the internet, up-to-date information on a specific region is now readily accessible before or after fieldwork. On the other hand, the media and their generated information are already present in the field for a long time, which may build prejudice against the researcher.
Anthropologists can serve as informants to the media or might be themselves working for the press. They might even in rare cases attract media attention themselves. When it comes to embedded anthropology/journalism in conflict areas, anthropology and journalism grapple with similar questions of ethics and principle.
Despite these complex connections, there is a further need for a reflexive analysis of (a) the relationship between anthropology and journalism, and (b) the influence of media not only on the perception of the anthropologist, but also on the fieldwork area and its contextualizing in supra-regional, national or global frameworks. In the dossier of Tsantsa 15, these connections will be examined in detail.
The texts for the dossier can focus on any field of the intersection between anthropology and journalism. Articles can be of an empirical or theoretical nature. Central questions include the usage of information stemming from mass media outlets, the influences, experiences and possibilities of competition as well as cooperation between anthropology and journalism, and their mutual importance for their own specific professional self-image. Research should be in a final state: methods, theoretical backgrounds and eventual empirical results have to be developed and contextualised.
Please send your declaration of interest, along with a short biographical note, by March 1st, 2009 to the guest editor Boris Boller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declaration of interest by March 1st, 2009
articles (max. 40000 characters) should be submitted by July 15th 2009 for internal and external revision.
Forwarding of reviews and suggestions of modification to the authors: October 2009
Final draft including suggested modifications: January 1st 2010.
Publication date: May 2010.
For further information regarding Tsantsa, the review of the Swiss Anthropological Society, as well as for more details on our publishing policy, please go to: http://www.seg-sse.ch/pdf/Instructions_Tsantsa.pdf
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