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CFP 2010 AAA: Changing Channels: Trans-Cultural Circulations and Transitions of Televisual Media

March 24, 2010

** via media anthropology list, EASA **

We would to like to request proposals for a paper session to be presented at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans, November 17-21 2010:

Changing Channels: Trans-Cultural Circulations and Transitions of Televisual Media

Panel Organizers:

Damien Stankiewicz, ABD
Department of Anthropology
Program in Culture and Media
New York University

April Strickland, ABD
Department of Anthropology
Program in Culture and Media
New York University


Anthropologists have long identified the centrality of television and televisual technologies to the construction and dissemination of a variety of social collectivities (Spitulnik 1993; Mahon 2000; Abu-Lughod 1997; Boyer 2007), from national publics (Postill 2006; Abu-Lughod 2004; Born 2004; Dornfeld 1998) to Indigenous peoples’ self-representations (Ginsburg 1994, 2005; Aufderheide 1995). In recent years, however, myriad technological and infrastructural innovations have changed the ways in which image and sound travel within and across borders, and so how peoples and cultures are today being pictured.

This panel proposes to update anthropology’s consideration of television in light of the diversification and fragmentation of the medium, alongside, and through, radio, film, and electronic media. How are the medium, and its contemporary evolutions, contributing to new kinds of circulations, interfacings, frictions, or fragmentations, of cultural representations? How is televisual discourse changing in light of the ongoing emergence of transnational, regional, and global reroutings of capital, technology, and increasingly self-conscious cultural imaginaries (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009)? In what ways do well-worn theorizations of media, both from within anthropology and from without, remain relevant, or require revision, in light of new ethnographic data? Armed with new ethnographic engagements with television and its intersections with other media, papers might seek to revisit, for example, Arjun Appadurai’s theorization of “mediascapes” (1996) and Benedict Anderson’s “im
agined community,” (1991 (1983)) or to build on new theories of attempting to explain “convergence cultures” of media (e.g., Jenkins 2006).

The cross-regional purview of the panel will allow for re-examination of the ways in which audiovisual content may today circulate across broader geographical scales than has been previously theorized, but will also look to emphasize the partial and contextual nature of the transitions of televisual forms and technologies: what are the varying degrees to which the medium is being integrated with, or replaced by other communicative forms, in a range of ethnographic contexts and settings? What can anthropologists thereby learn about the ways in which technologically mobilized trans-cultural representations are differentially mobilized across time and space? Indeed, which and whose notions of time and space are being propagated through these mobile images?

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words, to Damien Stankiewicz (des255 <at> or April Strickland (ajs366 <at> by March 27. Please include your institutional affiliation and department. Selected participants will be notified by March 30.

Apologies for cross-posting.

Works Cited

Abu-Lughod, L. 1997. The Interpretation of Culture(s) after Television. Representations 59:109-134.
—. 2005. Dramas of Nationhood : The Politics of Television in Egypt. Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press.
Anderson, B. R. 1991. Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Rev. and extended edition. London ; New York: Verso.
Appadurai, A. 1996. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” in Modernity at Large : Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, pp. xi, 229. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Aufderheide, P. 1995. The Video in the Villages Project: Videomaking with and by Brazilian Indians. Visual Anthropology Review 11:83-93.
Born, G. 2004. Uncertain Vision : Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC. London: Secker & Warburg.
Boyer, D. 2007. Understanding Media: A Popular Philosophy. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
Comaroff, J. L., and J. Comaroff. 2009. Ethnicity, Inc. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dornfeld, B. 1998. Producing Public Television, Producing Public Culture. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Ginsburg, F. 1994. Culture/Media: A (Mild) Polemic. Anthropology Today 10:5-15.
—. 2005. Blak Screens and Cultural Citizenship. Visual Anthropology Review : Journal of the Society for Visual Anthropology 21:80-97.
Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.
Mahon, M. 2000. The Visible Evidence of Cultural Producers. Annual Review of Anthropology 29.
Postill, J. 2006. Media and Nation Building : How the Iban Became Malaysian. New York: Berghahn Books.
Spitulnik, D. 1993. Anthropology and Mass Media. Annual Review of Anthropology 22:293-315.

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