CFP: Power Dynamics: 2016 UCSB Media and the Environment Conference
Power Dynamics: 2016 Media and the Environment Conference
University of California, Santa Barbara
April 29 and 30, 2016
Keynote address by University of Michigan Assistant Professor and poet Tung-Hui Hu, author of works including A Prehistory of the Cloud (2015, MIT Press) and Greenhouses, Lighthouses (2013, Copper Canyon Press)
As information and communication technologies proliferate, environmental issues become even more entwined at every level of media, including production, distribution, consumption, storage, and disposal. Yet, while these material consequences of media deleteriously impact the surrounding communities, they largely remain marginal within the consumerist imaginary. For instance, mining coltan ore for electronics production in the Democratic Republic of Congo has led to political conflicts and unsettled the regional ecology. Dismantling e-waste at the putative end of its lifecycle has also caused fatal illnesses among workers in Guiyu, China, while the legacy of haphazard electronics and chemical dumping in Silicon Valley has produced hundreds of toxic sites that endure decades later.
Responding to this pivotal era of Anthropocenic climate change and rapidly transforming media economies, this inaugural conference seeks to bring together scholars and media practitioners whose work explores the many significant confluences of media and the environment. It will aim to conceptualize the terms “media” and “environment” in expansive and innovative ways to encourage a diverse range of approaches and to build upon the necessarily interdisciplinary conversation of scholars such as Lisa Parks, Stephanie LeMenager, and Nadia Bozak.
In particular, we are interested in scholarly presentations and media exhibitions that think through the heuristic of “power dynamics,” considering the dynamics of power relations but also power itself as a dynamic and mutable notion. Submissions may address some of the multiple manifestations of power—political, activist, cultural, economic, military, judicial—and how they simultaneously shape and are shaped by media and environments. They may also strive to consider the processes of power generation, including resource extraction, energy usage, and technological infrastructures, that connect devices and fuel media industries and the implications for environmentalist concerns.
Among the questions we hope to address are: Who becomes empowered and disempowered through particular media practices? How do media address or efface their environmental impacts and how can activists and academics develop new imaginaries in response? How do various energy sources, like electric, hydroelectric, and nuclear power, factor into the design and operation of different media systems? How is power shifting in the wake of new media and changing environments?
Panelists will have 15-20 minutes for paper presentations. We are open to a variety of lengths for media exhibitions by practitioners, but foresee being able to accommodate more short-form films into the schedule. Please email a proposal of 250-300 words and a brief bio to Daniel Grinberg (dgrinberg <at> umail.ucsb.edu) and Christopher Walker (caw2105 <at> gmail.com). The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2016.
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