We are delighted to announce the keynote speakers for this year’s conference:

-Professor Lilie Chouliaraki (LSE)

-Professor David Hesmondhlagh (University of Leeds)

-Dr Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths)

-Dr Katy Parry (University of Leeds)

Below you can find an abstract for their talks and a biographical note:

Communicating solidarity in the 21st century

Professor Lilie Chouliaraki

NGOs appeals, where injustice is represented as a cartoon monster in our streets, celebrity advocacy, where health policies in the South are introduced through celebrity confessions about her adopted children, or disaster news, where a devastating earthquake is mediated by an ‘I-‘m-praying-for-them’ twitter from London, tell us much more than the cause they seek to communicate. They tell us something important about the ways we represent the world beyond ourselves as a cause for solidary action.

It is this new form of solidarity as self-communication that I discuss in the lecture. What has led to the rise of this self-oriented solidarity? What are its implications for public ethics and global activism? And how can we imagine alternative ways of communicating solidarity today?

Biographical note: Lilie Chouliaraki is Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She has written extensively on distant suffering as a problem of communication and is the author, among others, of The Spectatorship of Suffering (2006/2011); The Soft Power of War (ed, 2008), Self-mediation: New Media, Citizenship and the Self (ed, 2012) and The Ironic Spectator. Solidarity in the Age of Post-humanitarianism (2013; nominated for the Outstanding Book Award in the International Communications Association).

Towards a moral economy of media and culture

Professor David Hesmondhalgh

A moral economy of culture approach is outlined. I do so by a) drawing on moral economy perspectives more generally; b) applying them to the realm of knowledge and aesthetic-artistic experience, which is placed within the context of debates about culture-economy relations; c) by contextualising moral economy of culture approaches vis-à-vis other approaches to culture-economy relations, including cultural economics and the political economy of culture; d) by considering how a moral economy of culture perspective might understand the effects of markets on these domains. I argue that at the heart of a moral economy of culture is the attempt to bring ethical questions, usually framed in an Aristotelian way, to bear on questions of the relations between culture and economy. This makes questions about the relationship of culture and economy to ‘the good life’ and human flourishing central. This approach is briefly applied to the case of contemporary television.

Biographical note: David Hesmondhalgh is Professor of Media in the Institute of Communications Studies (soon to be renamed School of Media and Communication) at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Why Music Matters (Blackwell, 2013), Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries (Routledge, 2011, co-written with Sarah Baker), and The Cultural Industries, now in its third edition (Sage, 2012). He is also editor or co-editor of five other books, including The Media and Social Theory (with Jason Toynbee, Routledge, 2008). He recently co-edited (with Anamik Saha) a special issue of the journal Popular Communication on “Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Production”.

Reinvigorating race and media studies

Dr Anamik Saha

Obituaries for Stuart Hall all underscored his pioneering influence in the birth and subsequent shaping of cultural and media studies, particularly through his writing on race, ethnicity and cultural identity. Yet, curiously, the study of race and the media is a relatively marginal field. This was not always the case – Stuart Hall’s seminal paper on ‘New Ethnicities’, spawned a spike of work on popular culture, the representation of race and the cultural politics of difference. Yet this field has stalled in recent times, with Hall himself lamenting the apolitical directions in which cultural studies had traversed.

This paper asks how we can reinvigorate the study of race and ethnicity in media, communication and cultural studies today. It outlines several ways in which this can be achieved. This includes an expansion of the study of cultural politics from national to more global contexts, a greater (though not sole) emphasis on production (rather than just representation), and a more explicit grounding of discussions of cultural identity within issues of inequality and discrimination. More generally the paper argues for the need to centralise discussions of difference within media studies. It considers what the study of race can do for media studies and conversely, what an emphasis on the media can do for critical race studies. In this way the paper sees its call for a greater focus on race and ethnicity as part of a wider project to help media and cultural studies bring questions of power and social justice back to the centre of its analysis.

Biographical note: Anamik Saha is a Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. After completing a PhD in Sociology, also at Goldsmiths, he worked at the Institute of Communications in the University of Leeds, firstly as an ESRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, then as a Lecturer in Communications Studies. He has also held visiting fellowships at Trinity College, Connecticut, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests are in race and the cultural industries, particularly in relation to questions of commodification and cultural politics. His work has appeared in journals including Media, Culture and Society, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, Popular Music and Society, and European Journal of Cultural Studies. Most recently he has edited a special issue of the journal Popular Communication with Professor David Hesmondhalgh on race and ethnicity in cultural production.

From the Moscow Masque to a Sochi whipping: Embodying dissent in public spaces

Dr Katy Parry

Formed in 2011 – the ‘year of the protester’ (Time magazine) – Pussy Riot came to international attention with the recording of their Punk Prayer performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 2012, and with their subsequent arrest and trial for hooliganism. The feminist punk collective choose to hide their faces with brightly covered balaclavas, accompanied with clashing clothes and guitars; as seen again more recently at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The contrasting colours of their masks, with ‘tea-cosy’ bobbles, are in stark contrast to the black balaclavas of other anarchist, neo-Nazi or terrorist groups, and offer only a crude level of anonymity. Significantly, these symbols of solidarity provide a striking visual metonym ripe for copying, adapting and parodying across diverse cultural forms in the global media-sphere.

In this paper, I argue that the antics of Pussy Riot can be analysed from the perspective of globally-aware visual protest – it is not the musical aesthetics that stick in the mind, but the nature of the protest as an unruly and disruptive performance, reclaiming public space where the exclusion of women is a defining aspect of its sacrosanct nature. The eccentric and slightly shambolic performance in the altar of the cathedral harnesses the carnivalesque in its humorous and chaotic nature, yet retains its critical and political value.

From Chilean women dancing alone to symbolise their ‘disappeared’ husbands, to Saudi women posting YouTube videos of themselves driving in defiance of the law, the bodily reclamation of public and private spaces, and the circulation of subsequent representations across diverse global media platforms, provide opportunities for women to ‘speak back’ to forces of patriarchy, political violence and religious offence in multifarious forms which are not always directly about ‘voice’. My final contextual concern, then, is the broader relation between aesthetics and politics, influenced by recent developments in visual culture and activism that are starting to bring together analysis of the aesthetic and political realms with a productive emphasis on the practices of mediation, participation and spectatorship.

Biographical note: Katy Parry is a lecturer in Communication Studies at the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds. Her current research interests include the relationship between visibility and political communications, including the ‘repertoires of contention’ (Tilly 2002) and powerfully visual forms of rhetoric adopted by protest groups, in addition to the symbolic politics of more traditional political actors. Past publications include articles on the ‘visual framing’ of conflict, and her new projects will explore how ‘frames of war’ circulate in public culture, across genres and in both digital and material forms. She is co-author of Pockets of Resistance: British news media, war and theory in the 2003 invasion of Iraq (2010), with Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Craig Murray and Philip Taylor; and Political Culture and Media Genre: Beyond the News (2012) with Kay Richardson and John Corner.