History in the Making:
Arab Media and Processes of Remembering
Conference organised by the
Arab Media Centre 
Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI),
Date: Friday 24 April, 2015
Venue: University of Westminster, Regent Street Campus,
309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW

Keynote Speaker:  Kay Dickinson, Concordia University, Montreal. Author of
Off Key: When Film and Music Won't Work Together (2008) and co-editor of The
Arab Avant-Garde: Musical Innovation in the Middle East (2013)

ŒIf history is a term that means both what happened in the past and the
varied practices of representing that past, then media are historical at
several levels¹. These words of Lisa Gitelman in her 2008 book, Always
Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture, highlight the multiple
ways in which media are implicated in our retelling of history. It is not
just a question of journalism being seen as the first Œrough draft¹ of
history (an observation credited to a former publisher of The Washington
Post), or the fact that what are now sometimes called Œlegacy media¹ were
themselves new media several decades ago. It is also the role of films and
other entertainment media in our awareness and understanding of the past, as
well as the deliberate or unwitting silencing of histories through the
highly selective processes of media representation. Such silencing is
compounded when archives, or parts of archives, are neglected or destroyed.
Yet digital media and political upheaval in Arab countries raise new
theoretical and practical questions about historical records. On one hand,
online archiving of user-generated content seems to contradict the old maxim
that history is written by the victors. On the other, who now has the right
to be forgotten? Online digital infrastructures make it possible to trace
dissident voices and sources in ways that threaten to sustain the entrenched
control mechanisms of dictatorships.
Perhaps because Arab media outlets have expanded so rapidly in recent years,
historical dimensions of media development or media use in the region have
received limited attention. Eric Davis noted in the 1990s how much writing
about the Arab world suffers from a Œpresentist¹ fallacy, whereby inadequate
or cursory coverage of historical forces contributes to essentialist
constructions, which in turn represent the Middle East as incomprehensible
political spectacle. More recently Walter Armbrust has pointed out the
dangers of what he describes as a Œrelentless presentism¹ and predominant
ahistoricism in Arab media studies, born in his view from a form of
technological determinism.
This one-day conference will seek to address issues raised by the place of
media in history, the function of media artefacts as historical sources, and
the processes involved in documenting and storing media images and accounts
that will make the past accessible to future generations. A focus on history
seems appropriate for what will be the tenth in the Arab Media Centre¹s
series of annual international conferences.
We welcome papers from scholars and media practitioners that engage
critically with the issues outlined above. Themes may include, but are not
limited to, the following:
·       Arab media history and historiography

·       The place of history in Arab media studies

·       Methodological questions in researching Arab history: the place of

·       Oral histories of Arab media

·       Formation of film and broadcasting through colonial and postcolonial

·       Suppressed histories from the media sector

·       Historicising the rise of subversive media across different
political contexts

·       Archiving and digitizing: who decides what and how?

·       The performance of museums and libraries in preserving media

·       Translation of historic media texts

·       Gender, media and social history

·       Media and memory studies

·       Historic patterns in media coverage of Arab affairs

·       Audience feedback in 20th century Arab media

This one-day conference, taking place on Friday, 24th April 2015, will
include a keynote address, plenary sessions and parallel workshops. The fee
for registration for all participants, including presenters, will be £110,
with a concessionary rate of £59 for students, to cover all conference
documentation, refreshments and administration costs. Registration will open
in February 2015.

The deadline for abstracts is Monday, November 3rd, 2014. Successful
applicants will be notified early in mid-December 2014. Abstracts should be
300 words. They must be accompanied by the presenter¹s name, affiliation,
email and postal addresses, 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 give the file and message
the title ŒAMC 2015¹ followed by your surname. The file should be sent by
email to the Events Administrator, Helen Cohen, at
[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Participants fund their own travel and accommodation expenses.

There will be various openings for publication of selected conference
papers, which will be discussed further after the conference.

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