In this conference we will explore the relationship between “populism”, across ideological spectrums and national boundaries, and media—that is, the practices, economies, and politics of information circulation, production, and consumption through various industries, networks, and technologies. If we understand populism to be a political “logic” rather than orientation , how is this logic mediated differently across a range of political alternatives? In what ways does the conflation of political logic and orientation foreclose political possibilities? How are multiple techniques and technologies—old and new—leveraged to assert or deny populist discourse?
Crucially, this conference is interested in the relationship between the charge of “populism” perpetuated by information industries, its cultural and technological mediation, and the equating of divergent political platforms.
This conference invites scholars to interrogate the role of media in the ongoing global rise of populist leaders and movements. For example, how do we understand the similarities that bridge these groups—their anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, and ethno-nationalist foundations—while each has emerged within distinct economic, racial, and religious contexts? How can these similarities hold when national media industries are shaped by distinct market pressures and degrees of government regulation? With the election, nomination, and/or rise of leaders from Modi to Erdogan, Trump to Berlusconi, Le Pen to Orban, and the implementation of nativist political maneuvers like Brexit and immigration bans, how have media represented these figures and actions as anti-establishment? As representative of the desires of “the people”? Can populism be said to have globalized? How have media promoted facile comparisons between leaders of opposing political movements, e.g., Castro and Chavez in Latin America to Trump and Erdogan in the U.S. and Turkey? As today’s right-wing populisms amplify anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, what are mediaís responsibility to their viewerships?
We invite papers to address these themes broadly and/or from the perspective of particular movements or moments. Possible frames of analysis include (but are by no means limited to):
Media and Information Industries, ex: news; social media; national, transnational, and multinational political-economic and legal frameworks; governance; institutional transformations; big data; networks and circulation
Digital Inequalities, ex: power relations in technology; white supremacy; trolling; infrastructures and systems of control; labor; online performance; of code; algorithmic biases
Activist Media, ex: social movements and social justice; witnessing; networked protest; privacy and surveillance; feminist media; affect and politics
Political Futurity, ex: decolonization and settler colonial critique; indigenous futurity; queer of color critique; Black studies; feminist technoscience; speculative methods; migration; critiques of liberalism; complicity; vulnerability; imperialism and empire; crisis, risk, and precarity.
Notes:  Ernesto Laclau, On Populist Reason (New York: Verso Books, 2005), 117.