Following THE SOCIAL's 2016 conference, LEA is now calling for full-length paper submissions. Each paper should be focused on only one of the following six topics:
What does participation mean within contemporary post-democratic societies if entire social groups are disenfranchised and isolated within the boundaries of visible and invisible ghettos? What does this mean for the re-imagining and/or complete deconstruction of democratic ideology—which has not only fallen flat, but has codified the structures of contradiction and exploitation transnationally. Through global pursuits moralized by empty concepts of justice, freedom, and equality, democracy and its ideologues have all but exhausted these respective vessels as means of justification for Western imposition, moral authority, and political manipulation (domestic or otherwise).
With that said, notions of social participation have shifted dramatically in respect to changes in communication styles and various forms of connectivity, which go beyond the basic conversations addressing the impact of social media and the fashionability of contemporary political protests. This shift exposes structural cracks in democratic logic and reasoning which if ignored, denied, and/or patronized by political/social elites only further discourages thoughtful, responsible acts of participation. This section will analyze a wide range of issues related to participation, or the lack thereof, ranging from the blacklivesmatter movement to broader implications of various minorities' economic and social incarceration.
Reverberations of Art, Politics, and Violence from the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean is plagued with global tensions of contemporary society due to the unresolved economic, social, political, migratory, and religious conflicts that are reverberating across the world. What role do visually and culturally historicized narratives play in the various interpretations which incite or discourage global response to conflict and crisis? Specifically, what reflections of the continued escalation of these conflicts are apparent and/or inconsistent with divisive narratives throughout the United States of America and European States?
Society is being transformed into a post-democracy, and the body politic is being cut into pieces. Are there new alternatives and strategies to counter the erosion of freedom and social capital in the face of increasing financial and political oppression? Lastly, how and to what extent do these constructed narratives expose irresponsible uses of ideological galvanization, moral justification, and visual and cultural representation of historical fact? These questions aim to locate narrative structures and strategies which alert, engage, and even contradict notions of social responsibility (or irresponsibility) on the global level. Papers should explore how art and visual culture contribute to the discourse in the context of the Mediterranean narratives and counter-narratives.
The Social in Visual Culture
What role does visual culture play in THE SOCIAL, and what role does THE SOCIAL play in contemporary visual culture? As visual information rapidly permeates both private and public space, systematic distinctions between these domains are obliterated, obscured, and reinvented. But is popular imagination extricated from the constraints of these distinctions or forced to abandon epistemological foundations which arrive secondary to the spectacle of the image? Papers are encouraged to expand upon philosophical, political, and economic paradigms reimagined and visualized by contemporary schemata. Such schemata undoubtedly give birth to new ontological frameworks that simultaneously perpetuate and confront contemporary social phenomena. These phenomena include, but are not limited to, the visual distortion and curation of public memory, the hypocrisies of censorship in an increasingly transparent and public context of political and economic life, and the questioned relevancy and tautological abuse of visual and conceptual appropriation in the digital age.
In an increasingly politicized and polarized world, this section proposes the necessity of recontextualizing THE SOCIAL in order to understand if it still contains value, or if it has become the chain that subjugates people within unfair governmental systems. With Durkheimian vision, this theme demands an exploration of new visual strategies, processes, and methods of consumption and dissemination of the visual as it relates to contemporary sociality.
Post-society and Financial Exsanguination
The collapse of Western democracies and the rise of post-democracy, as an expression of post-society and post-citizenship, have become characteristic features of the twenty-first century. Theories abound from post-scarcity economy to post-capitalistic vampirism, but what is the role, if any, of visual culture in cultivating a new vision of the economic/post-capitalist world beyond frameworks of utopia and dystopia? Furthermore, if visual culture can and/or should play a role in the cultivation of envisioned alternatives to exhausted systems, what responsibility needs to be taken, observed, and utilized in order to fully comprehend the scope and capacity it holds for not only responding to economic/political crisis, but engendering them as well?
The process of “exsanguination,” as utilized here, is one that often connotes a deliberate and malicious exercise of exploitation and imposed enervation fed by the arousal of systematically condoned greed. However accurate and very real this connotation may be, especially to the disenfranchised, there is a serious disregard in this understanding for the totality and conglomerate of contemporary factors and conditions which contribute to crisis—each taking a little piece of the remaining pie, until only the crumbs are left. Conspiracy, malevolence, and institutional gluttony of the rich and powerful are all too easily used as inculpatory evidence as liberal fingers begin to point. However, what are perhaps more uncomfortable for both the masses and political elites to conceive in the face of crisis are issues much more telling of the precursory conditions of this contemporary scenario. These related issues include: the perceived infallibility and betrayed trust in systems designed with the promise of economic mobility for all, an inflated sense of morality as romanticized by democratic ideals codified by neglectful versions of its history, and the limitations and loopholes of the franchise in which democracy is built. This section aims to re-examine visualized and conceptualized connotations of crisis and its precursory conditions, factors, and proposed solutions via the incredible potential of visual culture to provide innovative viewpoints, poignant criticality, and varied means of communication.
Revolutions, Free Speech, Radicalization, and Social Media
Has contemporary social media ushered in an era of engagement, participation, and free speech or one of radicalization, revolution, and censorship characterized by political division and confrontation? Is it possible for visual culture to argue for a transformational and democratizing role of contemporary social media and technology as tools that can provide the framework for democratic and civil engagement beyond radicalized politics and ideologies?
This section, put simply, aims to define what it means to participate in the digital age. Acknowledging the multitude of definitions of participatory engagement, intervention, and dialogue, this topic calls for an examination of the contemporary factors and contexts with which THE SOCIAL act itself is redefined and reimagined. Papers are encouraged to consider and investigate broader implications of social media, as well as tangential themes which magnify not only participation on the collective level, but on the individual level as well. These themes include but are not limited to current social media driven practices that prompt new forms of spectatorship and social voyeurism, contemporary notions of intimacy related to personal history and experience, and the outsourcing of authenticity as it relates to political and social engagement and representation.
Art and Society
The arts are a pervasive force in society for solidarity, resistance, information, and aesthetic purposes. Art subsists in all corners of the public sphere. And public space is the arena where the existence of THE SOCIAL is reaffirming itself and trying to resist the encroachment of post-capitalism. In this emerging post-society, art and visual activism stand as a form of protest and reaction, reaffirming basic democratic rights which, until a few years ago, were considered normal, and now are portrayed as insurrectional. Can aesthetic actions and reactions in public space reaffirm the importance of THE SOCIAL in increasingly divided and fractured societies? Papers will deal with the relationship between art and society. How has this relationship changed in recent years? Is art that engages with political thoughts and ideals an insurrectional practice? Or part of a collective understanding and discourse to continuously develop a healthy society?
The deadline for submission of full papers is rolling.
See abstract and paper submission process and guidelines here.
Please note: The initial 300-500 word abstract is not required for THE SOCIAL, though there should be a 150-200 word abstract included in your paper submission. This is the only difference between the standard paper guideline and a submission for THE SOCIAL.
For any questions or concerns, please contact the Managing Editor, John Francescutti.