Call for Papers |

Robert James Hughes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Infrastructures and Inequalities: Media industries, digital cultures and politics

    Call for Papers ECREA Mid-Year Section Conference 

    21-22 October 2019, University of Helsinki, Finland

    Joint Conference of three ECREA Sections: 
    Communication and Democracy; Digital Culture and Communication; and Media Industries and Cultural Production

    Abstract Deadline 1 June 2019

    Confirmed keynote speakers:
    Lisa Parks, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Kaarina Nikunen, University of Tampere

    In a turn to ‘infrastructuralism’ (Peters 2015), media and communication scholars are increasingly attentive to the materialities and politics of the technological, organisational and cultural infrastructures that underpin media today. Platforms, data centres, software, but also new forms of organising cultural production and labour, shape the politics of digital cultures and transform the media industries. Digital and media infrastructures have become elemental to everyday life. They are significant in reproducing existing social and cultural inequalities, as well as creating new power struggles. As digital/media infrastructures unfold in everyday life, they bring challenges across multiple domains, from the foundations of social justice to the industrial structures underpinning our everyday interactions with media and communication systems. This conference aims to address the politics and inequalities that emerge, as technological and media industries adopt, dismantle and transform infrastructures to channel and process communication flows. Media infrastructures (broadly) operate under different and uneven conditions that configure media labour, media production, and the politics of communication and access (Starosielski and Parks 2015). This conference seeks to examine digital/media infrastructures and inequalities from an inter- and multi-disciplinary perspective, inviting papers to interrogate the significance of the ‘infrastructural turn’ in media and communication studies to our understanding of media industries, democracy and digital cultures.

    During this joint-ECREA section conference, we aim to engage with questions concerning inequalities and the infrastructures of digital culture, media industries and (digital) democracy through addressing topics such as (but not limited to):

    The value, significance and relevance of infrastructure studies to media industry studies, the study of media and democracy, as well as digital culture
    The industries and labour that operate and control specific technological media infrastructures, such as data centres, cloud computing, cable/satellite networks, content delivery networks
    The politics and power dynamics of digital/media infrastructures 
    The significance of digital/media infrastructures in everyday life, especially related to the reproduction of social inequalities
    The impact of digital/media infrastructures on culture, society, politics and democracy
    The impact of digital/media infrastructures on media labour and cultural production
    The organisational and cultural infrastructures of the media industries
    Experiences and affective relationships that emerge in connection with media infrastructures
    Forms of logistical media
    Temporalities of media infrastructures
    Emerging questions for the foundations of social justice in the digital media infrastructural turn

    Submission details
    Please submit a 300-word abstract for individual proposals. 
    Panel proposals should include a 300-word panel rationale plus individual 200 word abstracts from a minimum of four speakers.
    All abstracts for individual as well as panel proposals should be submitted through EasyChair:

    Deadline for submission is 1 June 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be issued by 30 June 2019.

    Registration and Fees
    Early bird and ECREA-members fee:  €100 (until 12th August)
    Early bird reduced student fee (for students who are also ECREA members): €50 (until 12 August)
    Full fees and non-ECREA members: €120  (to be paid until the 15th of September)
    Student, non-ECREA member fee: €60 (to be paid until the 15th of September)

    Conference website:

    For more information and enquiries, contact: 
    Julia Velkova, University of Helsinki at
    Anne Kaun, Södertörn University at
    Sander de Rieder, University of Ghent at 

    Or consult the conference website:

    Scientific Committee:

    Ysabel Gerrard, University of Sheffield
    Catherine Johnson, University of Huddersfield
    Ana Jorge, Research Centre for Communication and Culture, Universidade Católica Portuguesa
    Anne Kaun, Södertörn University
    Maria Michalis, University of Westminster
    Christina Neumayer, IT-University of Copenhagen
    Sander de Rieder, University of Ghent
    Emiliano Treré, University of Cardiff
    Julia Velkova, Consumer Society Research Centre, University of Helsinki

    Related conferences in Helsinki during that same week:

    ECREA section conference on “Communication Rights in the Digital Age”, 24-25 October, keynote speaker is Philip Napoli (Duke University):

    Alexanteri conference 2019 on “Technology, Culture, and Society in the Euras­ian Space”, 23-25 October, among the keynote speakers are Benjamin Peters (University of Tulsa) and Natalie Koch (Syracuse University).