Post-Socialism Playing Global: Computer Gaming Industries and Digital Media Culture.
Submissions are invited for a two-day workshop to be held at the University of Birmingham, UK, on 1-2 November 2013.
While the aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars and others interested in the post-socialist region, a wider discussion of interdisciplinary issues is encouraged: the organisers hope that scholars working on other regions with specialisms in (new/social) media studies, digital cultures, globalisation, digital labour and games studies, can contribute to a dialogue on the direction post-socialist digital cultural studies might take. The workshop will also include contributions from practitioners who will discuss the transformations in the industry and new challenges of globalised digital economy and culture.
The workshop will establish a research network in this area, strengthen the research agenda through information exchange and debate, and develop plans for longer-term collaboration. Participants are invited to present papers on their own research as well as present critical, ‘position’ papers, in which they would challenge our present assumptions about the gaming industries in the post-socialist countries and attempt to ‘de-colonise’ new media studies. Proceedings will follow a themed set of panels and discussion seminars.
The themes are broad and overlapping; participants are encouraged to respond to one or several themes and also propose their own that would connect to the overall objectives of the workshop.
Digital social and cultural identities
Of what use now are categories such as digital ‘classes’, and ‘nations’? The digital era has transformed identity in the region; what micro-studies and bottom-up approaches that test and/or challenge these theories are needed? Have virtual ethnographies and qualitative studies only looked at the ‘western’ face of the new digital denizens of the region? How does the experience of socialism inform our understanding of digital cultures and specifically computer gaming in the region?
Global, local, glocal prosumers
It has been argued that in the digital era production is no longer local and includes transnational actors on the global scale. The concept of ‘producer’ has also been interrogated to include aspects of consumption, and vice versa: the ‘prosumer’ is a not only a new type of workforce but also social and cultural identity. How do these phenomena manifest themselves in the region and what are their specificities in terms of material and virtual assemblages?
The digital economy and the ‘creative class’
How has the evolution of digital economy in the region and beyond been dependent on the role of engineers/programmers/creatives who were trained in the USSR and have become a dominant creative force in Russia, USA and other countries (the so-called ‘kreativnyi klass’)? To what extent is the post-socialist region a bellweather for (g)localization projects globally?
Gaming: the intersection of digital and subcultures
What does the huge popularity of computer, online and social media gaming mean for the region? When goes gaming become digital labour? How are production and consumption conflated into the prosumer and if so, what are the post-socialist prosumers’ specificities? Where and how does gaming culture intersect with the rich literature on socialist and post-socialist subcultures? What in gaming speaks to other areas of cultural, area- and media studies? Is it inevitable that we read questions of national identity into game studies in the region?
Civil and Political Society
How do digital cultures intersect social networks and activism? Particularly, given the incomplete democratization of many states, how do digital cultures facilitate or discourage political discourse, movements, and dissent more generally.
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