Media, Mediations and Mediators: (Re) Mediating History in the 21st Century
The International Network for Theory of History (INTH) is pleased to announce that its fourth network conference will take place in Puebla, Mexico on 6, 7 and 8 May, 2020 at Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities ‘Alfonso Vélez Pliego’, Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP).
Histories are not what they used to be. Once primarily associated with dusty books and documents, histories seem less bound to the written or even verbalized format and increasingly appeal to all of our senses. At times they do so with so much skill and persuasiveness that they fully immerse us in their presence and no longer look, sound, feel or smell like History at all.
New ‘media of historical expression’ (Morris-Suzuki) have been proliferating in academia and beyond, with histories being mediated and remediated (Bolter & Grusin) in computer games, virtual reality, reenactments, comic books, films and web-based digital environments among others. Most of these media paradoxically strive to erase any trace of mediation – generating a sense of unmediated contact with the past. These media and types of mediation are driven by mediators – e.g. game developers, re-enactors, film directors, artists, activists – who increasingly challenge professional historians’ ‘hegemony in the sphere of retrospection’ (Ricoeur). The new visual, aural and tactile technologies of historical mediation have evoked Luddite sentiments among some historians who feel threatened in their traditional existence as artisan wordsmiths. Others, however, have welcomed the new media of historical expression and celebrate their potential in relation to furthering and communicating historical knowledge as well as creating new possibilities for historical education.
The 4th INTH conference addresses the theme of ‘media, mediations and mediators’. Can visual and aural media yield forms of knowledge which cannot be captured by text-based historical media (as Rosenstone argues)? What happens to historical insights or ideas when they are ‘translated’ from one medium to another? Does the ‘visualism’ of many popular media of historical expression come at the cost of classic (text-based) hermeneutic approaches to the past? How does the rise of new mediatechnologies affect the relationship between historiography, archives and sources? How should historians engage with audiovisual archives, and how should they intervene in ongoing debates on audiovisual preservation? Which epistemologies (if any) can be used to adjudicate the ‘accuracy’ or value of the different forms of historical representation generated by various media of historical expression? Is it possible to explore new epistemologies in collaboration between historians and artistic practitioners? How may various forms of mediation change our conceptions of the goal or perceived benefits of remembering history? How does the linearity of the medium of writing affect our perception of history? How do the ‘instantaneous time’ and ‘instant history’ created by digital culture impact historical consciousness and conceptualizations of historical time? Does the rise of new mass media lead to a democratization of historical knowledge and representation, and its global dissemination, or do the economic and geo-political powers underpinning these media reproduce existing inequalities among historical cultures? How do new media of historical expression influence the position of professional historians as privileged ‘mediators’ of societal relations to the past? Why do certain mediators choose specific media to construct and convey their relationship with the past? Do our media-saturated societies demand the creation of a new type of historian? How can museology contribute to innovative forms of history mediated by images and sounds? How can media theory enrich debates in theory of history?
The main focus of this conference is on media, mediations and mediators and their relevance for the theory of history. But we also welcome papers on other relevant topics in the broad field of Philosophy and Theory of History, including (but not limited to):
- Conceptual history
- Epistemics of history
- Ethics of history
- Historical (in)justice
- Historical time
- History and mourning/trauma
- History as science (causation, explanation, lawfulness…)
- Politics of history and memory
- Public/popular history
- Substantive/speculative philosophy of history
- The history of historiography
- Theory of history didactics
- The relations between history and other academic fields
- History outside academia
Confirmed keynote speakers
Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Alison Landsberg (George Mason University, USA)
Ana Mauad (Fluminense Federal University, Brazil)