Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Call for papers: Ethnicities, Counter-Publics, Appropriation and Social Media

Here are details of a symposium organised by our colleagues in Media, Communications and Culture
A one-day symposium at Keele University.
Date: 8th June 2017
Abstract Submission deadline: 14th March 2017
Call for abstracts
In two of the big political shocks of 2016, the UK EU referendum result and Donald Trump’s election to President of the US, social media was, and continues to be, a battleground for disseminating contending versions of reality. Immigration has been a key topic of populist rhetoric and has promoted a narrative that seeks to blame and marginalise ethnic groups in both countries. This has occurred after major flash points, including the events themselves, but also as a continuing campaign of hate to gain support for right-wing politics and groups. Minority groups – Muslims in particular – have been targeted following significant terrorist attacks but these high profile campaigns also attract counter-discourse and tactics of appropriation by activist groups. Much has been written about the affordances of social media and their potential (and limitations) for activists. Yet whilst an emerging body of work has explored the relationship between ethnicity and social media, this has tended to focus on specific platforms (Jackson 2016; Rambukanna 2015) and contexts (Magdy et al 2015). More research is thus needed into the use-patterns and meanings of online campaigns to minority groups, in a rapidly changing political environment. For instance: Where does hate-speech derive from and who is circulating it? How is it countered and appropriated by online activists? Who represents minority groups in these digital spaces, and are there tensions between different forms of representation?
This symposium is funded by a British Academy research project which aims to explore some of these questions in relation to the #StopIslam campaign which has attracted considerable support but equally resulted in a profusion of counter-narratives, defending Muslims. We are interested in this form of ‘conflicting engagement’ with media environments, which result from the ‘unequal, unstable […] qualities of interconnection across difference’ (Tsing 2005: 4). The symposium seeks, therefore, to examine the dynamics of representation and self-representation online, and we particularly welcome papers that focus on critical questions about social media such as the social and cultural dynamics of online activism.
Proposals are sought in the following (and other relevant areas):
  • Representations/self-representation of ethnic minority groups online
  • Discursive constructions in social media
  • Digital activism/ online campaigns both supporting and attacking ethnic minority groups
  • Cases of discursive appropriation online
  • Counter-narratives, (networked) counter-public mobilisations
  • Digital protest cultures/ social movements/ resistance politics
  • Citizen media for social change
  • Online identity politics
  • Relationship between traditional mainstream media and digital activism
  • Far-right ideologies, ‘post-truth’, and minority groups.
  • Methods for analysing social media content
Dr Ed de Quincey, Dr Eva Giraud and Dr Elizabeth Poole
Computer Science and Media, Communications and Culture, Keele University
Dr de Quincey’s work is in the area of online human behaviour and using social media as a source for Big Data research, Dr Giraud writes on the relationship between politics and digital media, particularly online activism, and Elizabeth Poole is an expert on the representation of Muslims and author of ‘Representing Islam: British Muslims in the British Press’.
Dr Pollyanna Ruiz
Film and Media, Sussex University
Dr Ruiz is an expert in digital protest cultures and author of ‘Articulating Dissent in the Public Sphere’.
Dr Dima Saber
Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University
Dr Saber is an expert in Nationalism, political Islam, propaganda in the Arab world, and media for social change.
Please submit a 150 – 250 word abstract and any queries to Alina Andras at:
The deadline for abstract proposals is Tuesday 14th March 2017.
The symposium is free for speakers (excluding travel expenses) and funded by the British Academy/The Leverhulme Trust.
The organising committee will select papers for a special issue on Ethnicities, Counter-publics, Appropriation and Social Media in two peer-reviewed journals; one is the open access online journal for the Open Library of Humanities and another, a high-profile Media Journal, currently under negotiation.
Best wishes,
Alina Andras, Ed de Quincey, Eva Giraud, Elizabeth Poole (Keele University)
Conference Team

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