CFP > Memories of the future, London 2019

the character Doc Brown in the film Back to the Future

Via Temporal Belongings.

Memories of the Future

International conference. Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Dates: 29-30 March 2019
Confirmed speakers: Stephen Bann (Bristol); Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths); Paolo Jedlowski (Calabria); Anna Reading (KCL); Michael Rothberg (UCLA)

Proposals for panels or papers by 31 July 2018 to

Call for papers
What does it mean to remember the future? What roles do memory, history, the past play in our consciousness as citizens of the early twenty-first century?

David Lowenthal (2015) reminds us that ‘commands to forget coexist with zeal to commemorate’, which raises the very important yet often overlooked questions of: what to remember and what to forget, who is well positioned to lead on or judge in that process, with whose legacies in mind, and with what consequences for future and past generations. In the 1980s, a significant body of scholarship on cultural memory emerged to protect the past from ‘time’s corrosive energy’, leading to ‘collective future thought’ (J. Assmann, 2011; Szpunar and Szpunar, 2016). Cultural memory acted as a moral imperative, a prerequisite to overcome not merely violent pasts but the violence inherent in linear temporality. As such, cultural memory has been seen as redemptive, enabling a more productive relation between past, present and future.

More recently, ‘thinking forward through the past’ has been central to a number of AHRC-funded projects in the UK examining environmental change, postcolonial disaster, gender and colonialism, heritage futures, ruins and more. Climate change, big data and the crisis of democracy are challenging our future in ways that may suggest a misalignment of temporal scales. One way of responding to this is through what Reinhart Koselleck (2000) called horizons of expectations and spaces of experience, namely, the horizons implicit in our anticipations of the future and the degree to which our experience of these have changed and will change over time. Utopian imaginaries and deploying utopia as a method (Levitas, 2013) invite us to think about hope, empathy, and solidarity, each contributing to create different places from which to imagine a future outside crises, fears and risk.

The past and the future constitute our cultural horizons in ways which are neither neutral nor solely technical, but, as Appadurai (2013) has suggested, ‘shot through with affect and sensation’. One of the key challenges of our time is how to study and create futures we truly care for and which are more social (Adam and Groves 2007; Urry, 2016).

Memories of the Future invites contributions to articulate the future in relation to cultural memory, and interrogate the precise and diverse manners in which the past, the present and the future are intertwined and dialogical, complicating our understanding of temporalities in an age saturated with memory and ‘past futures’.

Suggested themes and areas of inquiry include:

  • The future of memory
  • Temporal multi-directionalities
  • Memories of the future
  • Utopias and dystopias
  • Past, present and future mobilities
  • Smart cities and future/ist metropolises
  • Science-fiction and other subsets of utopia
  • Housing, cohousing and the future of habitation
  • Futurisms, modernisms, afro-futurisms
  • The future in/and the Anthropocene
  • Post-humanism and the non-human
  • Intentions, expectations, anticipations
  • Counterfactuals
  • Trauma, violence and conflict
  • Tangible and intangible heritage

Please submit proposals for panels or papers (max 20 minutes) by 31 July 2018 to, including a 150-250 words abstract.

Excellent post by Angela Last on teaching geohumanities

Louise Bourgeois work of art

I enjoyed reading this thoughtful piece on teaching ‘geohumanities’…

An experiment in teaching geohumanities

As someone whose work gets framed as ‘geohumanities’, I often get asked about my take on the field, both in terms of research and teaching. I usually answer that I feel that geohumanities is in danger of becoming a mere rebranding exercise for cultural geography or environmental humanities. Looking at articles from journals across those three fields, it becomes difficult to make out a difference. This dynamic seems aggravated by the demands of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that evaluates research output according to discipline. Many academics have complained that, while contemporary problems (and research funders) demand interdisciplinarity, the current research (and academic career) assessment punishes discipline transgressions. Your work will always be scrutinised for sufficient adherence to disciplinary boundaries, and it seems not enough that most of your work can be accounted for in this way, and the fact that there are dedicated journals for this field in which you can publish. Although the new framework promises to pay more attention to interdisciplinarity, the paranoia around disciplinarity persists. Certainly, during last year’s job interviews, I experienced anxiety around my work and the journals in which I decide to publish. Even at interviews for geohumanities themed posts, when bringing up potential practice based or inter/cross-disciplinary outputs, the answer was often ‘no’.

A related issue is interdisciplinary teaching. There are many different ways of doing this, depending on institutional logistics (timetabling, student location, connection to other departments etc), levels (undergraduate, postgraduate) and staffing. An increasing number of universities claim to have interdisciplinary undergraduate teaching programmes such as ‘Liberal Arts’, but in reality, subjects are still being kept separate and taught by specialists. The location of an interdisciplinary programme also often determines the angle. For instance, if an art and science programme is located within an arts faculty, the syllabus is more likely to be art centred, no matter how diverse the student body.

Read more here.

Media Theory journal – issue 1

Marshall Mcluhan

Issue 1 of the new journal Media Theory is up. Several ‘usual suspects’ amongst the authors list but then that’s to be expected to draw a crowd perhaps. I feel a little squeamish about the “manifestos” line but I haven’t read all of that bit yet, so let’s see… Only one ‘duff’ paper in there so far in my reading 🙂

Here’s a quote from Simon Dawes introductory paper “What is Media Theory” that I think nicely summarises the ethos, which is interesting (to me anyway):

With the relative ease with which new journals can now be established, the launch of a new journal of media theory obliges us all the more to justify the need for such an endeavour (Cubitt, this issue), to argue that we do indeed need yet another journal theorising media (Shome, this issue), and to convince at least some readers that the journal deserves the name, Media Theory (Mitchell, this issue). For this launch issue of the journal, editorial and advisory board members were invited to set out their own views on the importance of (a new journal of) media theory. While the journal can hardly satisfy the occasionally conflicting and contradictory wishes of everyone on the boards, this special issue represents a pluralistic manifesto for the journal – manifestos for various possibilities and directions for Media Theory. […]

Media Theory is not, therefore, a journal that privileges any particular theoretical approach, perspective or tradition to the study of media, but nor is it simply a matter of disinterestedly presenting their diversity or that of the range of theoretical concepts or tools proposed or applied in media research. Rather, in emphasising ‘media’, ‘theory’ and ‘media theory’, the journal aims to deprovincialise media theory by bringing into dialogue and debate the diversity of ways in which media are theorised. For despite the inherently interdisciplinary histories of the various disciplines in which media is studied internationally, there remains a tendency to restrict one’s reading to one’s own field or disciplinary, geographical or linguistic bubble, applying and developing theories without sufficient knowledge of how those theories have already been debated and developed elsewhere.

Reblog> No dogs, no Indians: 70 years after partition, the legacy of British colonialism endures

Stamp commemorating Indian independence

I found this piece on The Conversation, with reference to the play No dogs, no Indians by Siddhartha Bose (see the video below), by Gajendra Singh, a colleague at Exeter, an interesting and helpful intervention into the partition stories the Beeb is currently running. Definitely worth a read.

No dogs, no Indians: 70 years after partition, the legacy of British colonialism endures

The 70th anniversary of the end of Britain’s Empire in India and the birth of the post-colonial states of India and Pakistan have led to a renewed interest in the portrayal of this distant and under-explored past in British arts and the media.

It does not always make for good history. In the stories told on film, radio and television – from the film Viceroy’s House, to BBC One’s My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947 and Radio 4’s Partition Voices – complexity and context are downplayed in favour of “British” stories of colonialism, anti-colonial movements and partition violence.

Something of an antidote to this was offered by Siddhartha Bose, the London-dwelling, Bombay-raised Bengali poet and playwright, in an evening of readings, performance and discussion as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival‘s own commemoration of the 70th anniversary of partition.

Bose is not a historian and does not pretend to be one, but the evening made for more interesting and innovative public history than that of efforts elsewhere. The event entitled No Dogs, No Indians: A Legacy that Lingers Long, after Bose’s recently published play, attempted to take the audience on a journey into the emotional worlds of urban life in colonial and post-colonial India.

Read the full article.

Reblog> Three new OHP books from: Brian Massumi; Steven Connor; and Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski

open access spelled out with books

Via Gary Hall. All of the books are available for free download. Follow links below.

We are pleased to announce the release this month of two new titles in Open Humanities Press’ Immediations series:***

Brian Massumi’s The Principle of Unrest explores the contemporary implications of an activist philosophy, pivoting on the issue of movement. Movement is understood not simply in spatial terms but as qualitative transformation: becoming, emergence, event.

Available for free download at:



Nocturnal Fabulations/Fabulations nocturnes by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette and Adam Szymanski with an Introduction by Erin Manning.

This collective, bi-lingual project is animated by a shared curiosity in the pragmatics of fabulation and its speculative gesture of bringing forth a people to come. In an encounter with Apichatpong’s cinematic dreamscape, the concepts of ecology, vitality and opacity emerge to articulate an ethos of fabulation that deframes experience, recomposes subjectivity and unfixes time.Available for free download at:




We are also pleased to announce the latest book in the Technographies series:

Steven Connor’s Dream Machines

Dream Machines is a history of imaginary machines and the ways in which machines come to be imagined. It considers seven different kinds of speculative, projected or impossible machines: machines for teleportation, dream-production, sexual pleasure and medical treatment and cure, along with ‘influencing machines’, invisibility machines and perpetual motion machines.

“This is an engaging and imaginative exploration of various forms of writing, thinking, and fantasizing about dream machines, an endlessly fertile topic probed here from just about every possible angle “¦ a major intervention into current understandings of technology, literature, and identity.”

Matthew Rubery – Queen Mary University of London

“”¦ a deeply original contribution to the history and philosophy of technology and the cultural history of the imagination “¦”Laura Salisbury – University of Exeter

Available for free download at:

With our best wishes,

Sigi, David, Gary

CFP> “VIRAL/GLOBAL Popular Culture and Social Media: An International Perspective” 13th Sept 17 CAMRI

Via Tony Sampson.

“VIRAL/GLOBAL Popular Culture and Social Media: An International Perspective” The University of Westminster Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), Sept 13th 2017

13 September 2017
Time: 9:00am to 7:00pm
Location: 309 Regent Street Regent Campus, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW – View map


Conference organised by the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI)

Keynote Panel

  • Nancy Baym 
  • Emily Keightley
  • Dave Morley (TBC)
  • Tony D Sampson
  • Paddy Scannell

This interdisciplinary conference aims to examine how and why everyday popular culture is produced and consumed on digital platforms. There is increasing interest in studying and discussing the linkages between popular cultural and social media, yet there exist important gaps when comparing such cultural phenomena and modes of consumption in a global, non-west-centric context. The conference addresses a significant gap in theoretical and empirical work on social media by focusing on the politics of digital cultures from below and in the context of everyday life. To use Raymond Williams’s phrase, we seek to rethink digital viral cultures as ‘a whole way of life’; how ‘ordinary’, everyday digital acts can amount to forms of ‘politicity’ that can redefine experience and what is possible.

The conference will examine how social media users engage with cultural products in digital platforms. We will also be assessing how the relationship between social media and popular cultural phenomena generate different meanings and experiences.

The conference engages with the following key questions:

  • How do online users in different global contexts engage with viral/popular cultures?
  • How can the comparative analysis of different global contexts help us contribute to theorising emergent viral cultures in the age of social media?
  • How do viral digital cultures redefine our experience of self and the world?

We welcome papers from scholars that will engage critically with particular aspects of online popular cultures. Themes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Analysing viral media texts: method and theory
  • Theorising virality: new/old concepts
  • Rethinking popular culture in the age of social media
  • Social media, politicity and the viral
  • The political economy of viral cultures
  • Memes, appropriation, collage, virality and trash aesthetics
  • Making/doing/being/consuming viral texts
  • Hybrid strategies of anti-politics in digital media
  • Viral news/Fake news
  • Non-mainstream music, protest, and political discussion
  • Capitalism and viral marketing


This one-day conference, taking place on Wednesday, 13th of September 2017, will consist of a keynote panel and panel sessions. The fee for registration for all participants, including presenters, will be £40, with a concessionary rate of £15 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs.


The deadline for abstracts is Monday 10 July 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by Monday 17 July of 2017. Abstracts should be 250 words. They must include the presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper and a 150-word biographical note on the presenter. Please send all these items together in a single Word file, not as pdf, and entitle the file and message with ‘CAMRI 2017’ followed by your surname. The file should be sent by email to Events Coordinator Karen Foster at


The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto

Via dmf. Definitely worth watching >>

“This dream of utopia can encourage us to forget that outer space will not save us from injustice and that cyberspace was prefigured upon a “master/slave” relationship.

While we are often Othered, we are not aliens.

Though our ancestors were mutilated, we are not mutants.

Post-black is a misnomer.

Post-colonialism is too.

The most likely future is one in which we only have ourselves and this planet.”

The rest is here:

See also:

Reblog> Ordinary digital humanities – event with @rodgers_scott

Another interesting event, this time with Scott Rodgers at Birkbeck.

Ordinary digital humanities: Free event at Birkbeck, 15 May 2017

Apple_II_IMG_4212In a couple of weeks’ time I am happy to be hosting an event as part of Birkbeck Arts Week on the subject of ‘Ordinary Digital Humanities’, featuring a talk from Lesley Gourlay (UCL Institute of Education). The publicity blurb below has more than enough information, I suspect, for you to get the idea. The event comes in significant part out of discussions we’ve been having through Satellite, an experimental subcommittee in the School of Arts at Birkbeck focused on exchanging information and perspectives on the critical, creative, academic and pedagogical dimensions of learning technologies.

Ordinary Digital Humanities
The everyday life of digital technologies in pedagogy

15 May 2017, 6pm, Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD (part of Birkbeck Arts Week)

Book your free place at:

When one hears the term ‘digital humanities’ what likely comes to mind are innovative applications of computational techniques and technologies to humanities research as well as pedagogy. Or, conversely, the application of concepts and philosophies rooted in the humanities toward the study of emergent digital objects.

There are reasons however to think about the digital humanities in a more ordinary sense, beyond ‘cutting edge’ research or pedagogy. In the introduction to her book How We Think, N. Katherine Hayles suggests that in order to understand the implications of digital technologies for the humanities, we must first consider the ‘low level’ implications of digital technologies for academic life. For instance, the widespread normalisation of email, department websites, software applications, web searches, social media, and much more. For Hayles, a ‘digital humanities’ is more than just innovative new approaches to research and pedagogy. It is also inherently about transformations to the cognitive and embodied environments of academic life at the level of the habitual or everyday.

This forum considers the banal dimensions of the digital humanities, focusing specifically (though not exclusively) on pedagogical practice. It begins with an opening lecture from Dr Lesley Gourlay (abstract below), followed by responses from Dr Grace Halden and Dr Tim Markham from Birkbeck, University of London. We will not only survey the everyday ways digital technologies are being used, and are asserting themselves, in academic life; but also, how humanities and other scholars might respond to the apparent opportunities and intrusions wrought by digitisation.

The event will be followed by a wine reception.

Flickering texts and the writing body: posthuman perspectives on the digital university

Dr Lesley Gourlay, Reader in Education and Technology, UCL Institute of Education

As digital technologies become increasingly central in our day-to-day lives, we see profound changes in how we search for information, communicate with others, and express ourselves. The university is also changing, as digital media becomes more central via online resources for distance learning, but also throughout the traditional campus, through the mainstream use of digital media for teaching, library provision and academic reading and writing. This has not only changed approaches to academic teaching, it has also fundamentally altered how we seek resources and how we read and generate new knowledge through writing and interaction. Drawing Hayle’s notion of ’embodied virtuality’, this talk will explore this theme, analysing data from a research project which looked in detail at how a small group of students approached their studies over a six-month period, using drawings, photography and interviews to form an in-depth understanding of their day-to-day lives as students, and how they navigate the complex digital and material landscape of the contemporary university. It looks at how texts change when they move between paper-based and the digital, how students navigate the complexities of multiple devices and formats, how they make spaces for writing and knowledge while on the move, and how they form part of ‘posthuman’ networks of digital devices and material objects in order to engage in their studies. Taking a historical perspective, the talk concludes that textual practices have always been central to how higher education is organised and how we understand ‘knowledge’, and considers how digital media might continue to change what we call ‘the university’.