Mass Communication and Transnational Empire: 50 years of (transformations since) Herbert Schiller 2019 Conference

Страна: США

Город: East Bay

Тезисы до: 15.06.2019

Даты: 31.10.19 — 03.11.19

Е-мейл Оргкомитета:

Организаторы: Union for Democratic Communications & Project Censored


Fifty years ago, the world was at a conjunctural moment. The hegemony of liberal Keynesianism had been exhausted, leading to rebellions in cities across the United States, Paris, industrial centers in Northern Italy, and Mexico City. Repression under Communist governments were met with demands for freedom in Prague. The rise of Black Power, the Chicano movement, and other national liberation struggles demonstrated resistance to the capitalism, racism, and imperialism that was endemic to the postwar order.

In the United States disciplinary foundations across the social sciences shifted from theories of social stability to critical theories of society and political power. In sociology and political science C. Wright Mills produced a critical approach to American imperialism dissecting the social and historical formation of elite power (1956). The radical economics of Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy produced a foundation and thread for socially and politically engaged heterodox and Marxist economists (1968). And, perhaps, most famously Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man (1964) raised questions about the continuity and efficacy of social struggles in the context of U.S. commodity affluence, imperialist internecine conflicts, and the comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom characteristic in the West. In this context, it was Herbert I. Schiller that authored one of the defining texts in the political economy of communication tradition, Mass Communication and American Empire (1969). In this tradition of critical approaches to U.S. society and culture, Schiller suggested that the U.S.’s cultural imperialism emboldened its economic and military might around the world. During the next decade, a neoliberal order emerged that empowered finance capital while reorienting relationships between the state and the economy and shifting our cultural politics around the globe.

Now, in 2019, political, economic, and environmental crises are restructuring the geopolitical order, and the world as we know it is once again at a breaking point of exhaustive struggle. Neoliberal ideology has been unmasked, its promises of accomplishing social equity through “free markets” and “trickle- down economics” are no longer tenable. Migration and displacements challenge conceptualization of the nation, community and citizenship. It is in this context that we must acknowledge the emergent right-wing populism embodied by Duterte, Bolsinaro, Trump, Erdogan, and Brexit—and a global, digitally connected, “alt-right” network. It is a response of exclusion, advocating a tribalism whose only response to the challenges facing us is further extraction of resources, including our humanity.  

The fractures in neoliberal hegemony allow for new possibilities as we work to forge a new path. We call for a reflection on the role of empire and communication, and for reflective discussion about how scholars, activists and journalists have considered this relationship through its own history. Lest they are left hanging at the whim of corporate elites and right-wing nationalists the persistent struggles by the most vulnerable—undocumented workers, immigrants, refugees, women, queer folx, indigenous peoples, and people of color—must be read as constituting a new front and articulation in the global wars of position. Stuart Hall referred to these struggles through “a politics which understands the nature of a hegemonic politics in which different struggles take the leading position on a range of different fronts....The mode of prodction does not command every contradiction; it does not find them all at the same place or advanced to the same degree....” In this same vein, Herbert Marcuse, described vulnerable groups as the “outcasts,” “outsiders,” “the exploited,” “the persecuted,” “other races,” “other colors,” “the unemployed,” and “the unemployable.” It was through the resistance of the most vulnerable that Marcuse was able to articulate “The Great Refusal.” It was in their struggles that Marcuse recognized the limits to critical theory: “The critical theory of society possesses no concepts which could bridge the gap between the present and its future; holding no promise and showing no success, it remains negative. Thus, it wants to remain loyal to those who, without hope, have given and give their life to the Great Refusal.” Mills, Marcuse, Baran and Sweezy, and, especially, Schiller provide a departure point that we must return to if we are to understand the futures of a fractured, vicious, and persistent American empire.

At this conference, we will ask: In what ways do we still exist in “American empire”? What are its prospects for the future, what alternatives are emerging and in what way? What role do media and communication networks play in solidifying or disrupting these possibilities? What continuities or disjunctures exist in the relations between the state, capital, labor, technology, and ideology? In what ways are the structures and ideologies of colonialism and imperialism (re)produced and experienced within national contexts?

The Union for Democratic Communications-Project Censored 2019 conference invites contributions that reflect on the relationships between media, communication, and empire from a variety of perspectives. Contributions may examine these concepts through historical materialist, feminist, critical race, queer, and other critical approaches, and might be situated in interdisciplinary areas such as Latinx Studies, Black Studies, gender studies, cultural studies, and environmental studies. In particular, we invite contributions that highlight the means and methods for active resistance, democratic communication, and the promotion of social justice. New and established scholars, graduate students, activists, and media creators are encouraged to submit proposals.

Topics included but not limited to:

    Race, class, gender and/or indigeneity
    Subaltern publics/communities, counterpublics, intersectional & post-colonial critiques
    Subversive political knowledge & oppositional gazes
    Debt, precarity and austerity
    transnational capitalist class
    Refugees and migrants
    Intersectionality, hybridity, articulation
    Nomadism, dislocation, ephemerality, ontological hybridity
    slavery, colonialism/post-colonialism and/or the primitive accumulation of capital
    progressive movements, social movements, mass mobilizations and protests
    alt-global visions
    left-state alternatives
    state violence
    media reform and communication policy
    media literacy and critical media theory
    the neoliberal assault on higher education, radical scholars and academic freedom
    radical scholars and academic freedom
    critical communication pedagogy
    fake news and propaganda
    CNN Effects
    intersections of politics, morality, and communication in the current political climate
    eco media studies


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