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Paper Call

Conference on Visual Democracy I: Image Circulation and Political Culture

The Center for Global Culture and Communication at Northwestern University will sponsor a conference on Visual Democracy this November 2-4, 2007. The conference will feature plenary addresses by scholars in anthropology, art history, communication studies, gender studies, and other disciplines, as well as concurrent presentations. Speakers include Ackbar Abbas, Jean-Paul Colleyn, Beatriz Jaguaribe, Wendy Kozol, David Lubin, Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Christopher Pinney, Maren Stange, and Marita Sturken.

Scholars who wish to be included in the concurrent sessions are invited to submit abstracts by August 15, 2007. Those selected for presentation will be notified by September 1.

The study of visual culture increasingly foregrounds two significant assumptions. The first is that, contrary to the hermeneutics of suspicion characterizing both ideology critique and theories of the public sphere, visual images can provide important resources for democratic politics. “Visual democracy” goes beyond instrumental use by elites and documentary witness by the press to also include diverse actors, media, practices, audiences, and functions. The second assumption is that visual images are the leading edge of technologies and practices of circulation that are becoming increasingly characteristic of all media use in a global communications environment. These circuits can be large and small, public and private, legal and pirated, stable and ephemeral, serious and comic; as images circulate within and across social networks, political identity, agency, and solidarity can be gained and lost. This conference will explore these assumptions and related claims about the role of visual practices in political cultures around the globe.

The conference is the first of two that will lead to publication of a university press book to be edited by the conference organizers. All papers presented will be eligible for consideration for publication. Applications for presentation, including a letter and a two-page, single-spaced abstract, should be sent to Robert Hariman at
r-hariman2@northwestern.edu. The conference will be held on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Inquiries about attendance should be sent to Patrick Wade, wpatrickwade@gmail.com.

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