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Reviews: Theorising Media & Conflict

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This post compiles extracts of published reviews of the edited volume Theorising Media & Conflict (eds. P. Budka & B. Bräuchler, Berghahn Books, 2020).

Younes Saramifar (Free University Amsterdam) notes in the journal Media, War & Conflict

The editors upend the conventional and normative approaches limited to discourse, visual, content, reportage or policy analysis through anthropological analysis and ethnographically rooted methodologies. By way of telling ethnographic narratives and edited via a thorough theoretical inventory of current debates, the authors argue that a non-media-centric approach traces how the complexities of media technologies, sensory perceptions and social life are interrelated (p. 9). In other words, this volume encourages scholars and media researchers to think about how media becomes social and how it produces the social fabric of conflict.

They [the editors] have broadened the notion of conflict beyond the limits of contentious clashes and push readers to see conflict through lived experiences and everyday encounters. They aptly show how articulations and representations of conflicts in the news or other media platforms differ from witnessing and experiencing conflict.

There are wonderful ideas and reminders across the book hidden like Easter eggs, making reading a theory-driven academic volume a jubilant experience.

Overall, Theorising Media and Conflict is a promising and path-opening contribution to media and conflict debates which have ignored conflict ethnographies and interdisciplinary conversations for too long. This volume is a welcome addition to security and war studies, communication, journalism and social sciences at large. All students who wonder how to study conflict without coming under fire could highly benefit from this book.

Saramifar, Y. (2021). [Review of the book Theorising media and conflict, by P. Budka & B. Bräuchler]. Media, War & Conflict. https://doi.org/10.1177/17506352211004012


Christine Crone (University of Copenhagen) comments in the Global Media Journal

The book urges us to acknowledge the importance of ethnographic methods if we are to understand the integration and mutual constitutive power of media and conflict in the twenty-first century. Rather than looking at media and conflict as two separate spheres, the overall aim is to investigate media-related everyday practices in contexts of conflict as social processes.

Half of the contributions are made up of anthropologically informed media research and the other half consists of qualitative media and communication research and thus attempts through its structure to establish a dialogue between the two traditions on how to study media and conflict. This approach allows for new and inspiring ethnographic material that offers an insight into everyday media practices of people who live and navigate in this decade-long conflict while new media technologies change the ways of communication.

The volume brings new perspectives to the table and helps us move our attention from quantitative evaluations of the role of media in conflicts to the everyday media practices in conflict areas. This sets us free to investigate the fascinating interlinking and interplay between the two – or rather to dissolve what seems to have become an artificial division of one coherent phenomenon. The book is an ethnographic contribution to the study of media and conflict, adding qualitative research to a field where quantitative studies traditionally have dominated.

Crone, C. (2021). [Review of the book Theorising media and conflict, by P. Budka & B. Bräuchler]. Global Media Journal. http://globalmediajournal.de/en/2021/02/16/rezension-theorising-media-and-conflict/

Interview: Theorising Media & Conflict

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In an interview for the University of Vienna’s Uni:view Magazin, I am talking about the edited volume Theorising Media and Conflict (Berghahn Books, 2020), its purpose, conclusions and significance for understanding recent crises (in German).

Theorising Media and Conflict brings together anthropologists as well as media and communication scholars to collectively address the elusive and complex relationship between media and conflict. Through epistemological and methodological reflections and the analyses of various case studies from around the globe, this volume provides evidence for the co-constitutiveness of media and conflict and contributes to their consolidation as a distinct area of scholarship.

The book’s introduction is accessible for free:
Bräuchler, B., & Budka, P. (2020). Anthropological perspectives on theorising media and conflict. In P. Budka & B. Bräuchler (Eds.), Theorising media and conflict (pp. 3-31). Anthropology of Media. New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Films & videos on media activism & more

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This is a selection of films and videos on mediated activism, anthropological perspectives on media and culture, and globalization and (de)colonization in relation to media.
Compiled by Philipp Budka with the generous support of colleagues of the EASA Media Anthropology Network and the EASA Visual Anthropology Network.

Al Jazeera (2017). Podemos vs the Spanish Media. (10.27 min.). https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/2017/04/podemos-spanish-media-170429123101624.html (openly available)

Balmès, T. (2014). Happiness. (80 min.). https://thomasbalmes.com/happiness/ (not openly available)

Bardet, S. et al. (212). The Himbas are Shooting!. (52 min.). https://www.association-kovahimba.net/en/maps/50-bande-annonce/trailer/70-les-himbas-font-leur-cinema-6 (not openly available)

Bishop, J., & Prins, H. (2003). Oh, what a blow that phantom gave me! (52 min.). https://search.alexanderstreet.com/preview/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work%7C1876691 (not openly available)

Cavallone, E. (2016). Media & conflicts: Dangerous liaisons, an INFOCORE study reveals. (8 min.). https://www.euronews.com/2016/11/21/media-conflicts-dangerous-liaisons-an-infocore-study-reveals (openly available)

CBC News: The National (2012). Idle No More. (2.39 min.). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpBdZtwH_xc (openly available)

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Book: Theorising Media and Conflict

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Budka, P., & Bräuchler, B. (Eds.). (2020). Theorising media and conflict. Anthropology of Media. New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Theorising Media and Conflict brings together anthropologists as well as media and communication scholars to collectively address the elusive and complex relationship between media and conflict. Through epistemological and methodological reflections and the analyses of various case studies from around the globe, this volume provides evidence for the co-constitutiveness of media and conflict and contributes to their consolidation as a distinct area of scholarship. Practitioners, policymakers, students and scholars who wish to understand the lived realities and dynamics of contemporary conflicts will find this book invaluable.

This is the second “Theorising media and …” book in Berghahn’s Anthropology of Media series. The aim of the series is to place media anthropology at the forefront of theoretical advances in both anthropology and media and communication studies.

Table of Contents

Preface
Philipp Budka

PART I: KEY DEBATES
Introduction. Anthropological Perspectives on Theorising Media and Conflict
Birgit Bräuchler and Philipp Budka
Chapter 1. Transforming Media and Conflict Research
Nicole Stremlau

PART II: WITNESSING CONFLICT
Chapter 2. Just a ‘Stupid Reflex’? Digital Witnessing of the Charlie Hebdo Attacks and the Mediation of Conflict
Johanna Sumiala, Minttu Tikka and Katja Valaskivi
Chapter 3. The Ambivalent Aesthetics and Perception of Mobile Phone Videos: A (De-)Escalating Factor for the Syrian Conflict
Mareike Meis

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Seminar: Media Activism

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For the MA Program “Visual and Media Anthropology” at the Free University Berlin, I am organizing a newly developed seminar on media activism.

Course Description

Activism with/in/through media can be broadly understood as forms of technology mediated activism that intend to spark, create and/or support social and political change. So change (and therefore continuity) is at the heart of media activism, as, for instance, Kidd and Rodriguez (2009: 1) note: “Grassroots media have grown from a set of small and isolated experiments to a complex of networks of participatory communications that are integral to local, national, and transnational projects of social change”. Since media activism is related to a diversity of phenomena – such as power relationships, conflict or globalization – as well as to questions about the conception of time and space, organizational structures, collective identities and different forms of sociality, it has become a broad, interdisciplinary research field. This course gives an overview of media activism from a predominantly anthropological and ethnographic perspective.

When engaging with media activism, a variety of contexts, theoretical conceptualizations and methodological approaches have to be considered. In this course, students learn about these aspects by reviewing relevant literature and by discussing different forms and examples of media activism and related questions, issues and problems:

  • How can we contextualize media activism and related practices in anthropology?
  • What historical developments can we identify? And what does this tell us about contemporary activist processes and practices?
  • What is the role of (sociocultural and technological) change, politics, power, globalization and (de)colonization in an anthropological engagement with media activism?
  • How can we ethnographically describe and analyze media activist processes and practices? What are the possibilities and challenges?
  • How can we understand media activism in digital times and in the age of social media? What has changed?
  • What does it mean to interpret and conceptualize media activism as (a form or a part of) cultural activism?

Reference

Kidd, D., & Rodriguez, C. (2009). Introduction. In C. Rodriguez, D. Kidd, & L. Stein (Eds.), Making our media: Global initiatives toward a democratic public sphere, Volume 1: Creating new communication spaces (pp. 1-22). New York: Hampton Press.

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Call for Abstracts: Edited Volume “Theorising Media and Conflict”

Call for Abstracts: Edited Volume “Theorising Media and Conflict” published on No Comments on Call for Abstracts: Edited Volume “Theorising Media and Conflict”

Theorising Media and Conflict

Editors:
John Postill (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT))
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)
Birgit Bräuchler (Monash University)

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