Colloquia #31: The future of critical communication and media studies

, Piran, Slovenia

Call for papers

We call for presentations that organize critical reflections, grounded in a non-essentialist reading of the values of Enlightenment. The object of critique can be two-fold. First, we call for critical reflections about the field of media and communication in its current state. Second, we call for reflections about critique and its conditions of possibility in the academic field of media and communication studies.

Rationale

The critical usually finds itself in a difficult relationship with the social. Its strong investment into social change renders it both necessary and uncomfortable. The critical is part of a play of resistance and incorporation, where a diversity of societal projects formulate claims towards the critical and where other projects in their turn retaliate by launching counter-claims about their being ‘truly’ critical. Often, these anchorage points are provided by particular values, that almost always have long traditions in being defended by particular groups and resisted by others.

In this workshop we want to anchor the critical is the particular set of values linked to the Enlightenment, such as equality, liberty, solidarity, democracy and sister/brotherhood, in their non-essentialist versions. These values have been intimately part of what Mouffe has called the democratic revolution of the past 200 years, and we consider them still to be most relevant. From this perspective, the critical denounces and resists discourses and practices that structurally undermine, hollow out or attempt to replace Enlightenment values, without moving into the destructive. As many contemporary lives are affected by the combination of selfish individualism and eager capitalism, and disappointed by the impossible promises of representative democracy, we feel that a reflection about the critical and its anchorage points is very necessary.

Every field of the social is affected by these logics, also the field of media and communication. With only a mild sense of provocation, we can state that the problems are numerous. Media industries (or should we still say: culture industries) are structurally affected in their capacity to provide support for these Enlightenment values, and should become objects of attention for critical reflections. The social contract between journalism and these media industries has provided journalism with a safe haven for a considerable amount of time, but this contract now seems to be crumbling. With some naivety we have invested hope in online forms of communication, but the new commons threatens to be incorporated by a mixture of capitalist logics, non-democratic projects and narcissistic self-glorification. Governments and their policies, if they try to turn the tide at all, face a combination of legitimacy and capability issues, which rather structurally limits their interventionist capacities.

We strongly believe that critical projects are very necessary to explicitly address these deviations from the values of Enlightenment, but also to create new discursive horizons that envisage new ways to hegemonize the non-essentalist version(s) of the Enlightenment.

More information

Suggestions for papers with abstracts (250-450 words) are invited until June 15, 2014, final papers are due by September 1, 2014. Send abstracts or any requests for further information to: Ilija Tomanić Trivundža (ilija.tomanic@fdv.uni-lj.si).