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Call for Papers: New Media Conference at University of Chicago

Cinematic Diasporas: New Media Cultures and Experiences

University of Chicago: Department of Cinema and Media Studies Eighth Annual Graduate Student Conference Conference Date: April 13-14, 2012

The deadline for abstracts (300-400 words) is JANUARY 15, 2012. Please email all abstracts with ≥Conference Abstract≤ in the subject heading Submissions should include a title, institutional affiliation, and contact information.

Click through for more information.

Originally referring to the involuntary dispersal of Jewish populations around the world, the term Odiaspora’ has over the past three decades been used to describe an ever-expanding list of geographically displaced peoples, emigrant groups, exiled citizens, and labor migrants including those Irish, African, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and Mexican populations living outside of their homeland. Along with this, over the past thirty years scholars have begun to also use the term to describe non-ethnically defined populations such as queer communities, deaf cultures, political networks, terrorist groups, and religious factions. Yet while the number of populations we consider as diasporas grows, the definition of the term has remained relatively distinct. Beyond the criterion of dispersal, diasporas are peoples that show concern or orientation for an either real or imagined homeland. Diasporic populations identify with a particular homeland, share a collective memory of this ancestral land, and often dream of returning home. As well, diasporic populations tend to resist complete assimilation into their adopted cultures, instead preferring to take up hybrid cultural identities, which exhibit both their cultural ties to their land of heritage and to their current land of residence.

This conference centers on the question, or rather metaphor, of whether various new media experiences and cultures can be understood as diasporas of cinema. In this manner, we wish to push the boundaries of the term Odiaspora’ further, so that it may not only be used to describe dispersed populations, but also to describe dispersed forms of cinema.

Despite the fact that the cinema has from its very inception operated as a transnational practice, the advent of first analog and then digital technologies has greatly intensified cinema’s capacity for international movement and cross-cultural production, although undoubtedly in complicated and uneven ways. Therefore, while discussions of new media have often revolved around the issue of globalization, scholars in a wide range of disciplines from cinema studies to anthropology to the computer sciences have produced much work that warns us against approaching new media from any simple (usually utopian) concept of globalization. In light of the deficiencies of examining new media from the perspective of globalization, we are interested in looking at various new media forms as diasporas of cinema. This is primarily because, unlike the term globalization, the word diaspora is able to simultaneously signify three important aspects of many new media forms: their particularly nonuniform manner of dispersal and usage; their tendency to splinter off into a seemingly endless variety of national and cultural adaptations; and their tendency to retain important elements of their Omother-form’ of cinema.

Much like diasporic populations necessarily transform by adopting the customs and beliefs of their new countries, we wish to consider how forms of cinema similarly disperse and transform as they intermingle with new media technologies and new cultures. For this reason, we hope that thinking through new media from a diasporic framework will help us to explore two fundamental components of how cinema is changing in the new media environment: cinema’s increasing hybridity in material form and experiential quality and lack of clear boundaries separating it from other kinds of media; and cinema’s increasing amount of (sub-, extra-, trans-) national forms or cultures and the increasing lack of clarity surrounding the definition of cinema language and culture.

With this in mind, we invite papers on a wide range of topics pertaining to issues of the theory, phenomenology, ethnography, and transnational flow of cinema in the new media environment. These will include, but are not limited to:

∑ Theories of new media, vernacular culture and modernity ∑ Globalization, displacement, inclusion/exclusion, nostalgia and media ∑ Identity formation and community (gaming, youth, racialized, gendered and fandom subcultures, etc.) ∑ Global television and other mass-mediated communities (CNN, BBC, MTV, Telemundo, Al-Jazeera, Second Life, YouTube, Facebook, World of Warcraft, Twitter, etc.) ∑ Sub-, extra- and trans- national diasporic cinemas ∑ International film markets, festivals, cons, expos and the black market as sites of inquiry ∑ Utopic and dystopic visions of media futurity and the post-cinematic/-racial/-modern ∑ Performance styles, star systems and auteurs in new media or across cultures ∑ Spectatorial practice and reception ∑ Play, leisure, gaming and media immersion ∑ Sensorial perception and experience ∑ Temporality and spatiality, including changes in immediacy, delay, scale and mobility ∑ OOld’ media (the laserdisc, joystick, betamax, floppy disc, etc.), obsolescence, and its effects ∑ State intervention and industrial practice, media legislation, censorship and propaganda ∑ Role of the archive, particularly in regard to extra- and trans-national media ∑ Historical approaches to new media aesthetics, circulation and emerging technologies

We are proud to announce that our keynote speaker will be Anna Everett, Professor of Film, Television and New Media Studies and former Chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her work spans a wide array of topics such as film and television history and theory, digital media technologies, critical cinematic reception in the black press, reality television, and race and videogaming. Professor Everett’s writings include New Media: Theories and Practices of Digitextuality (with John T. Caldwell), AfroGEEKS: Beyond the Digital Divide (with Amber T. Wallace) and ≥The Revolution Will Be Digitized: Afrocentricity and the Digital Public Sphere.≤ Her most recent book, Digital Diaspora: A Race for Cyberspace, won the 2009 American Library Association’s Choice Award for outstanding academic book.

Limited financial assistance for travel may be available for international students.

For more information, contact Mary Adekoya:; and Nova Smith:

Conference Organizers: Mary Adekoya, Nova Smith, Alyson Hrynyk, Shannon Foskett


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