Calls for Papers / Conferences

CFP: Media and Elections in Africa

11th and 12th October 2010

WISER and the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand will be hosting a 2-day conference on Recent Elections and the Media in Africa on the 11th and 12th of October 2010. Our objective is to solicit papers that encourage debate across the media – print, the electronic media, radio and television:

1. To compare and contrast techniques and strategies of media representation in recent and forthcoming African elections.
2. To analyse struggles to control the media during elections.
3. To analyse popular efforts to find a space for voice in the media.
4. To analyse global representations and international coverage of Africa during elections.

Panels will be organized around the following topics:

A. How does the media present real and fictional images of African politicians and heads of state? This could include a hard look at the role of advertising and the way leaders, their aides and their publics are represented. Also relevant here are questions that address the ‘Othering’ of African leaders in the global media (for instance as buffoon, tyrant, dictator, ‘traditional’, global, spiritual, moral).

B. ‘Presentism’ and the erasure of historical memory in the media. By this we mean the reluctance of the media to set their discussion of elections in any sort of historical and political context. Instead we have the constant ‘Now’. What are the consequences of this lacuna?

C. Leadership and Contestation: Case studies of elections and media representations which focus on leaders and parties. Papers could cover the following: the Zimbabwean elections 2007/8; the Angolan 2008 elections; the 2008 Zambian elections; the South African elections of 2008; Botswana and forthcoming elections in 2010 in Togo (presidential elections), Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, and possibly Burundi.

D. A focus on Gender, Masculinity, Sexuality and the Politics of Leadership Identity: this could address the self-fashioning of leaders as regards dress, costume, ‘signatures’ and cultural accoutrements. It also calls for a focus on the first lady/ies phenomenon in the media representation of leaders. How are women leaders represented?

E. Media and the Hazards of Representation: in this session we interrogate/celebrate the role of popular culture during elections. How the readings of popular culture can illuminate listeners’/viewers’ opinions and bases of knowledge through tapping into pavement talk (‘radio trottoir’), popular songs, slogans and so on. What is the role of popular culture during elections?

F. Satire and the insights and subversions of cartoon voices and political comedians. In what ways has satire contributed to a critical and edgy understanding of the nature of politics, particularly during periods leading up to elections.

Please send titles and abstracts of not more than 300 words by 31 May 2010 to Najibha Deshmukh Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by the 17th June 2010. Some of the papers will be selected for publication in relevant journals, such as the Journal of Southern African Studies. There will be no conference fee. We hope to be able to subsidise the attendance of younger scholars should we acquire requisite funding.

Convenors: Liz Gunner, WISER, Sheila Meintjes, Political Studies, Wits University.
Liz Gunner, Wiser
Sheila Meintjes, Poltical Studies, Wits University


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