Call for papers Volume 2 Issue 2 (November 2010): Voices of Dissent

Voices of dissent: activists’ engagements in the creation of alternative, autonomous, radical and independent media.

Plus special section: the newest international(ism)s

Interface is a new journal produced twice yearly by activists and academics around the world in response to the development and increased visibility of social movements in the last few years – and the immense amount of knowledge generated in this process. This knowledge is created across the globe, and in many contexts and a variety of ways, and it constitutes an incredibly valuable resource for the further development of social movements. Interface responds to this need, as a tool to help our movements learn from each other’s struggles, by developing analyses and knowledge that allow lessons to be learned from specific movement processes and experiences and translated into a form useful for other movements.

We welcome contributions by movement participants and academics who are developing movement-relevant theory and research. Our goal is to include material that can be used in a range of ways by movements – in terms of its content, its language, its purpose and its form. We are seeking work in a range of different formats, such as conventional articles, review essays, facilitated discussions and interviews, action notes, teaching notes, key documents and analysis, book reviews – and beyond. Both activist and academic peers review research contributions, and other material is sympathetically edited by peers. The editorial process generally will be geared towards assisting authors to find ways of expressing their understanding, so that we all can be heard across geographical, social and political distances.

Our fourth issue, to be published in November 2010, will have space for general articles on all aspects of understanding social movements, as well as a special themed section on “Voices of Dissent. Activists’ Engagements in the Creation of Alternative, Autonomous, Radical and Independent Media.”

In the last decades, there has been a considerable amount of both activist and academic publications on alternative, radical, autonomous, and independent media. Keeping in mind the broad range of alternative, radical, autonomous and independent sites of media production and consumption, this issue of Interface intends to engage critical knowledge about media practices developed in social movement contexts all around the world. The primary goal of our journal is to contribute to the development of knowledge “from and for” social movements and encourage dialogue between movement participants and outside researchers. Thus we ask for contributions which are able to cross the separation between the movement and academic milieu when addressing the topic of alternative media in contemporary societies, underlining both theoretical and practical challenges that developing alternative media pose nowadays. In particular, we encourage contributions that explore some crucial questions which can further develop activist and academic literature about alternative, independent, radical and autonomous media.

A crucial topic is related, for instance, to the symbolic and material places and sites of the media environment where alternative media develop today: for instance, what is the nature of the interactions between a profit-oriented online platform such as Facebook and the alternative media messages which are sometime spread though it? This and other similar questions in the field remain unanswered. The proliferation of cheap and easy-to-use technological devices make it easy for everyone taking part in a demonstration to record and then spread the demonstration itself. It would be interesting to explore how these increasingly common practices impact the idea and the role of ‘media-activism’. With the flourishing and spread of information and communication technologies in particular many activist media practitioners and progressive academics have focused on the use of such new technologies in social movements. Alternative, radical, autonomous and independent media messages, however, are still produced and diffused using a variety of different technologies – from the press to the internet to rudimentary broadcast stations. There are community radios and radical magazines, street televisions and alternative stickers. They often intertwine and produce hybrid spaces of communication which are worth continuing to explore worldwide. In short, some of the questions we would like to address are:

  • What are the places and sites in the media environment where alternative media develop today?
  • Does it still make sense to speak about ‘media activists’ in a technology-saturated environment? Who are today’s media activists and, more broadly speaking, who are the alternative media practitioners and how are they connected to different social movements?
  • How are traditional media (radio, magazines, television, print) used as alternative means of communication nowadays? Are there instances of media convergence in this respect? What effects does this have on the communication practices of existing social movements?
  • What are the challenges, problems and issues that alternative media have raised and still raise within the social movement milieu?
  • Do alternative media present a gender-neutral context? Or are alternative media practices embedded in the same patriarchal discourse that envelops mainstream media?
  • Do technical criteria and the logics of media production necessarily win out in the long run over questions of alternative production processes and attempts to treat media as the voice of people in struggle?

We particularly encourage the submission of articles originated from practical-critical activity and engagement with movement media. We welcome especially “action notes”, “teaching notes”, activist interviews and good practice pieces which can help media activists learn from each other’s struggles. This list of questions is not exhaustive, but it is merely meant as a set of potential topics. Other perspectives on alternative media are welcome and encouraged.

Finally, this issue will include a special section on “The newest international(ism)s: institutionalised, networked or what?”, as follows:

For several decades now there has been limited discussion on internationals and internationalisms. With the holding of an international peoples’ conference on climate change in Bolivia and the launching of a Fifth International in Venezuela, both in April 2010, serious discussion should revive internationally. Whilst the first event promises a radicalisation of the traditional inter-state format of UN and related conferences, the second makes explicit reference to the four previous socialist/labour internationals. In both cases comparisons are being made with the World Social Forum. In the Venezuelan case explicit reference is made to four previous socialist internationals.

Among the questions that arise are:

  1. whether a state-sponsored international(ism) can escape the state domination of previous internationals;
  2. Given the sponsorship by new radical, anti-imperialist states with considerable local popular support, what attitude should be taken or role played by social movements internationally;
  3. How do these events relate to past labour/socialist Internationals, to the World Social Forum, and to the admitedly amorphous but rising ‘global solidarity and justice movement’ (aka ‘alterglobalisation’movement)?
  4. Given the parallel rise of an informatised alongside a globalised capitalism, are not internationalist institutions or place-based events being relativised by computerised and networked internationalisms?
  5. Given the surpassing of single-issue (union/labour, peace, anti-imperial) or single-ideology internationalisms (Communist, Social-Democratic, Anarcho-Syndicalist) international(ism)s, does not the variety, and the rise/fall, of internationalist social movements require specification, recognition and a consequent pluralism/flexibility?
  6. What conceptualisation, theory or theories, can best interpret and advance a meaningful global solidarity movement under, against and beyond our contemporary capitalist dystopia?

We invite original contributions to this special section from movement activists and specialists wherever and whoever they are. Contributions from those involved with women’s, labour, indigenous, ecological, communicational/cultural and pacifist internationalisms would be particularly welcome. So would contributions both from those participating in one or both of the mentioned April events, involved in other international(ism)s indicated, and following these events and discussion on them online.

For more details on Interface, please see our website, particularly the “Guidelines for contributors“. The deadline for initial submissions to this issue (vol. 2 no. 2, to be published Nov 1st 2010) is May 1st, 2010.