The next international conference OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9 will take place in Jamshoro, Pakistan, from 4 to 9 October 2010, and will be hosted by the Center for Rural Development Communication, at the University of Sindh. This University is well known for its multicultural environment in a safe region south of the country, not far from Karachi, a major city with international airport.
OurMedia | NuestrosMedios is a global and multicultural network of scholars, artists media practitioners and activists related to communication for social change. The first conference took place in Washington DC in 2001. Since then, the network has expanded and strengthened over five continents, with annual events in Barranquilla (Colombia), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Bangalore (India), Sydney (Australia), Accra (Ghana) and Rio Negro (Colombia).
Among the objectives of OurMedia | NuestrosMedios are: to support the strengthening of cultural identity, enhance participation in policy making and processes of governance, make visible cultural and gender diversity, promote arts for social change, as well as defend the right to communicate of all peoples.
The website http://www.ourmedianetwork.org/ displays extensive information on previous conferences as well as on the network, and it will shortly provide details about the next conference in Pakistan.
The deadline for submission of abstracts (200 words) is June 30th 2010, and if accepted, the deadline to submit papers (10 to 15 pages) and proposals for panels is August 30th.
New Media and Emerging Democracies
In accordance to the suggestion of our hosts at the University of Sindh, this year's main theme for papers, projects, shared experiences, exhibitions and field visits will be: "New Media and Emerging Democracies."
Few issues in contemporary world are so important and, at the same time, so difficult to tackle, as democracy. Regardless of diverse approaches to democracy in each region or context, it always means a certain lose of power and control for those who detained hegemonic power.
The difficulty lies in the multiple meanings, representations and experiences that the very notion of "democracy" has for peoples and societies, for different cultures and periods of time.
We suggest a basic distinction between:
a) Historical processes of "Democracies in consolidation", where national states are homogeneous and / or there is the hegemony of dominant groups' that have established, in time, an agenda that largely discusses and decides on issues of participatory policy. In this context, pending issues of democracy are related to identifying the necessities of segments of population that are under represented, or whose interests are ignored. The role of new media is to promote these issues and help identifying processes that will allow the implementation of a true practice of democracy and citizen participation in decision-making.
b) "Emerging democracies" in a multi-national state context, whether or not they are recognized nations. Democracy has different tasks, goals and challenges in societies where it is confronted with religious, ethnic, tribal and other cultural divergences of significance, and where integration is difficult, much in political terms as in daily life. In these cases, not only we find an absence of public policies capable to meet people's needs and desires, but usually there is an under representation and ignorance of the needs of vast segments of population, as well as of minorities. New Media have the responsibility of opening a difficult road, based mostly on plural dialogue, and which is non-centered and multi-vocal. A dialogue that will recognize all sorts of appeals, points of view and convergences and that will promote a space for voices that are rarely listened to and yet, are essential for the building of a plural democracy.
c) Democracy requires identifying the necessities and voices of the disenfranchised. In this sense, it is of great relevance to explore stories of children (girls and boys), women, workers, peasants, indigenous, and other minority members. Also, to analyze emerging ways of communication and relation that fight against marginalization and ignorance and that contribute to knowledge and to identity assertion.
Another theme for analysis and debate in OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios9 will be the relevance of social and political processes related to the emergency of citizen's media or of new media.
Taking these ideas in consideration, we suggest some useful themes for a gradual empowerment of different segments of population that have been, so far, oppressed, marginalized or subordinated by reason of tradition, which some societies consider natural practice.
We think of three scenarios for dissertations and collective debates.
1. Industrial societies: What is happening with new media in highly consolidated Western democracies? What are the debates taking place within these contexts? What are the stakes and limits of new media in societies under extreme cybernetic control?
2. Democracies with opening spaces and citizen access to media: How did they manage to have a growing presence in the media? What are the social and economic processes related to their presence? To what extent new media interact with preexisting dialogic media?
3. Emerging democracies: What is the role of new media when access is restricted to a minority of population? What role does it play in a context of emergency democracy and political, religious and ideological confrontation? Can new media make a contribution to intercultural dialogue? What are the links of process of participatory communication with vast social movements?
As in previous conferences, OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9 will have plenary sessions in the mornings, and panels, working groups and workshops in the afternoon.
The range of themes to discuss in panels and working teams is very wide. These are some suggestions:
- Participatory citizenship in new media.
- Role of new technologies in the building of citizenship
- Organized grassroot movements and new media
- Technical and social limits and advantages in new media
- New media and the building of democracy
- Legal frame, censorship or legitimacy of new media
- Global and local: role of new media.
Workshops on actual experiences may address methodological aspects, which will allow for transcending the stage of mere descriptions:
- Methodologies of communication and democracy building
- Experimenting new media in contexts of confrontation
- Role of training in the consolidation of new media
On the last day of the conference OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9, an open debate will take place between all participants about the future of the network, the future conferences and participants' suggestions on future activities and projects.
Participation & Logistics
An International Committee has been established to support the organization of OurMedia 9 | NuestrosMedios 9, it includes colleagues that already participated in previous conferences. There is also a Local Committee at the University of Sindh that will be in charge of the main aspects for the event's organization.
Members of both committees participate in seven sub-committees that are in charge of the following areas: 1) Call for Proposals and Methodology; 2) Financing and Grants; 3) Travel and Visas; 4) Press and Media; 5) Translation and Interpreters; 6) Video Screening and Field Visit; and 7) Lodging and Food.
Proposals for panels, papers or workshops must be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those interested in participating in OurMedia 9 / NuestrosMedios 9, may submit a resume of their papers and / or panel proposals before July 1st. A format for proposal submissions is available on our website.
All information related to the conference will be posted in due time at http://www.ourmedianetwork.org/
(translated from Spanish by Natalia Diaz)
International Institute for ICT Journalism