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Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy public seminar series:

Media and Populism

Open Lecture series

10 November 2017, 5-7pm, PSH 326

Lance Bennett, Professor of Political Science and Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Chair: Natalie Fenton, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths.

Who are the People?
Democracy, The Media, and the Rise of the Radical Right

Populism is sweeping conventional wisdom as the problem facing democracies these days. However, the term is often ill defined, and, however defined, it may be just a symptom of deepr crises of democracy. Many democracies today face growing economic and political inequality, the hollowing out of centre parties and related declines in electoral representation, along with business interests overshadowing ogvernment and civil society. In light of these problems, the academic and media discourses about populism may confuse cause and effect, and obscure more serious political developments such as the rise of undemocratic movements and parties on the radical right that end up helping the neoliberal project whether or not that is their intent. The efforst on the contemporary right to impose divisive definitions of "true citizens" and deny rights and benefits to others creates social disruption, violence and disinformation that further undermines democratic governance and favours authoritarian capitalism.

25 January 2018, 5-7pm, PSH 326

Paula Chakravartty, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, Department of Media, Culture and Communication and the Gallatin School, New York University (in collaboration with Professor Sirup Roy, Centre for Modern Indian Studies and Institute of Political Sciences, University of Göttingen, Germany).

Chair: Natalie Fenton, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths.

Mediatized Populisms: The Global South as Method

Disaggregating the idea of a singular media logic of poulist politics to explain the world through Trump and Brexit, we examine the institutional and political-economic dynamics of mediatisation and the variegated structures of media-political fields in which contemporary populists political formations are embedded. Moving away frombroad "global populism"approaches as well as case-studies from Europe and the Americas that have thus far dominated disucssions of populism, we make the case for empirically grounded comparative studies of populism from the particular standpoint of regional contexts in Asia, the MENA (Middle East and NOrth Africa) region and Latin America, to offer theoretical insights often missed in prevailing "technology first" and election-focuesed approaches.

1 March 2018, 6-8pm, PSH 314

Eric Fassin, Professor of Sociology, Department of Political Science, Paris-8 University where he is also co-chair of the Gender studies Department.

Respondent: Alberto Toscano, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths

Chair: Kate Nash, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths

Is Left-wing Populism Good for Politics?

All events are free and open to everyone.



Universities, neo-liberalisation and (in)equality

Friday April 28th 2017, 10am-6pm, PSH LG01

Universities in the UK, alongside other public services, are treated by policy-makers as enclaves of privilege to be democratised through the introduction of quasi-markets in teaching and research, while at the same time what academics do is increasingly constrained by ‘performance indicators’, league table rankings and the like. At the same time, and despite fees, the numbers of students who are benefitting from university education remains high: in 2014/15, 48% of 17-30 year olds went to university. As the recent government bill on Higher Education makes clear, universities have been transformed almost beyond recognition from institutions that offered social rights to free higher education for a small number of people – when degrees where undoubtedly routes to individual social mobility - in the 1960s and 70s, to sites of ongoing marketization and bureaucratisation in the context of policy-makers’ emphasis on public spending cuts, suspicion of professionals, and ‘widening participation’.

At this conference we invite speakers both to analyse the marketization and bureaucratisation of universities today, and also to discuss what can be done. We aim to think about resistance, and also about the possibilities of more fundamental transformation of universities. What, if anything, should we aim to preserve of the value of education as it was established in universities in the 1960s? Is there resistance already going on in the interstices of the ‘audit culture’, and what form does it take? Does the rhetoric of ‘widening participation’ offer any possibilities to challenge some of the ongoing inequalities in universities – around issues of diversity, for example? Does it only ever re-instate inequalities? And what ideas do we have for a radical transformation of universities? What are our ideas about what we want universities to become?

Speakers include: Des Freedman (Media and Communications, Goldsmiths); David Graeber (Anthropology, LSE); Jo Littler (Sociology, City); Vik Loveday (Sociology, Goldsmiths); Andrew McGettigan; Mao Mollona (Anthropology, Goldsmiths); Kate Nash (Sociology, Goldsmiths); Mollie Neath (Students’ Union, Goldsmiths); Dan Neyland (Sociology, Goldsmiths); The ResSisters (Feminist Collective); Robbie Shilliam (Politics and International Relations, QMUL); Brett St Louis (Sociology, Goldsmiths).

Event is free and open to everyone, please RSVP

(In)Equality in Neo-Liberalising Times

Thursday October 20th, 5-7pm,  PSH 3.26:
(In)equality and Diversity in the Media Industries:

Inequality in media organisations is frequently associated with lack of diversity in media representations. Does the media perpetuate inequality, spread prejudice and promote intolerance through lack of diversity and inequality in the workplace? What are the politics of production - does a more diverse workforce lead to more equality of representation?
Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths)
Dave O’Brien (Goldsmiths)
Ros Gill (City University, London)

Friday December 2nd 5-7pm, LG01:
Movements, Media and (In)Equality

Are movements like Occupy or Momentum too concerned with equality of participation in processes of deliberation and decision-making, and not enough with equality as an aim and outcome of political action? What is the role of technologies in expanding freedoms and facilitating movements?

Alex Williams – (City University) Author of Inventing the Future
Marina Prentoulis (University of East Anglia)
Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York)

Thursday March 9th, RHB 143
Interrogating (In)Equality: 
Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, the authors of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, discuss the "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption". The book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English and is available in 23 foreign editions.
Events are FREE and open to everyone

Anti-Austerity and Media Activism - an IAMCR 2016 pre-conference hosted by the Centre for Global Media and Democracy, Goldsmiths

The conference will seek to highlight the connections between austerity and the media and, in particular, to highlight the role of communications in fostering anti-austerity movements. Papers in the conference will consider how:

  • Media outlets have helped to construct contemporary narratives of austerity
  • Mainstream media have related to discourses of austerity
  • Non-mainstream media have attempted to counter austerity narratives
  • Activists and campaigners have sought to mobilise against both media and political elites in order to press for media reform, to secure democratic gains and to protect public spaces.

The conference schedule is available on the EventBrite page.

Location: The preconference will be held at Goldsmiths, University of London, PSH 302

Date and Time: Saturday 23 July 2016, 10-5pm

Registration is free but must be booked on the Anti-Austerity and Media Activism EventBrite.

Media Technologies and Social Movements: Present Challenges and Future Developments ESRC seminar series

The Social Movements and Media Technologies: Present Challenges and Future Developments Seminar Series is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and jointly organised by the Centre for Global Media and Democracy (CGMD) at Goldsmiths University of London and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS), European University Institute Florence. The series was designed to establish a ground of collaboration between these two centres, which are internationally renowned for their research excellence and engagement with the field. The aim of the series is to tackle and critically understand one of the crucial societal changes of our times: the relationship between political participation and media technologies.

Lead by Veronica Barassi, Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications, and Alice Mattoni, Research Associate at the COSMOS, Centre on Social Movement Studies, European University Institute

The fourth event in this series, The Missing Actor: The Meaning of Political Cultures for Media/Movements Interactions, will take place at the Insitute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, on 21 and 22 of April 2016.

A report of the first year of the ESRC Social Movement and Media Technologies seminars, has been published on the RE.FRAMING ACTIVISM blog.

Recognition Re-visited: Transforming The Representation of Gender Violence Through Ethical Witnessing

Co-hosted by the Centre for Feminist Research

María-José Gámez-Fuentes Universitat Jaume I (Castellón, Spain)

The concern about eradicating violence against women is not new in the global agenda. From grassroots movements to institutionalized feminist policies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), women’s organizations and initiatives have sought not only to address direct violence, but also to transform the conceptual frameworks that sustain it (Gámez Fuentes, 2013).

In this context, specialized literature coincides in indicating how media have contributed to the visibility of the problem, signaling a commitment to raise awareness. However such visibility has not implied a real transformation of the hegemonic framework related to women as victims. Butler and Athanasiou (2013) assert that the normative and normalizing powers that regulate the distribution of vulnerability, favor discourses of victimhood over discourses of political claims and confrontations.

Our aim is to explore which kind of communication can overcome that hegemonic frame of recognition. For this purpose we rely on the concept of “ethical witnessing” proposed by Oliver (2001 & 2004) and Kaplan (2005). They emphasize the need to address the other as a speaking subject (Butler & Athanasiou, 2013) and not simply recognize and attempt to understand him/her. This approach, thus, focuses on our response-ability towards others, this being understood as a capacity, and as a responsibility, to respond. This relation, between our responsiveness and our responsibility constitutes the threshold of our enquiry into how discourses can articulate the role of the witness.

Butler, J. y Athanasiou, A. (2013): Dispossession: The performative in the political, New York: Wiley.
Gámez Fuentes, M. J. (2013): “Re-framing the subject(s) of gender violence”, Peace Review, 25:3, 398-405.
Kaplan, A. (2005): Trauma Culture. The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press.
Oliver, K. (2001): Witnessing beyond Recognition, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- (2004): “Witnessing and Testimony”, Parallax, 10:1, 79-88.

Location: 302 PSH

Date and Time: 2 June 2016, 5-7pm

Expectations of Openness: From Cold War to a 'Right to Know' in U.S. Politics, Media, and Culture

Professor Michael Schudson, Columbia University.

In an age of Edward Snowden, it may seem odd to argue that there are greater expectations of openness in democracies than ever before, but that is the case. Government agencies, laws, civil society guardians of openness, practices of disclosure in health care, advertising, food packaging and labeling, all reinforce ideals of transparency as never before.

In the U.S. case, the focal point of this lecture, little of this goes back to the early days of the Republic, but almost all of it precedes the Internet. The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (1966) grew out of 1950s struggles inside government related to the Cold War and other advances in openness owe much to the rise of a new generation of political leadership coming to power some years before mass demonstrations and the cultural revolution of the late 1960s. This history should help us rethink the role of transparency -- and its limits -- today.

Michael Schudson is Professor of Journalism and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, he is the author of seven books and co-editor of three others. His works include Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (1978), Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press (2008), The Sociology of News (2011) and The Rise of the Right to Know (2015).

Date and Time: 13th January 2016, 12-1.30
Location: Professor Stuart Hall Building, LG02

The Visual Politics of the Human: images in humanitarian and human rights communication

Lilie Chouliaraki, Media and Communications, LSE and Kate Nash, Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy, Goldsmiths, invite you to a Symposium on ‘The visual politics of the human: Images in humanitarian and human rights communication’.

The symposium will take place on Friday December 4th, 10.00 - 17.15 in the Vera Anstey Suite, LSE

Everyone is very welcome, even for part of the symposium if you cannot make the whole day, and it is free. If you plan to come please register your interest via our Eventbrite page.

Event programme: The Visual Politics Of The Human (Word doc download)

The aim of the Symposium is to raise discussion of the problematic of the human and images of the suffering body in two key contexts: humanitarianism and human rights. Whether in mainstream news reports, in materials produced by NGOs, or in photographs and film footage that ‘bear witness’ produced by journalists, human rights monitors or people who happen to be on the spot, images linked to humanitarian and human rights claims are increasingly central in public life.

We explore these claims through three panel discussions, each addressing a specific proposal to public action: memorialisation, with its concomitant demand to remember; mobilization, making the demand to protest; and testimonialization, making the demand to narrate so as to invite judgment. What difference does digitalisation make to how we remember, mourn, narrate and act upon human suffering in public? And how can we understand the ethics and politics of witnessing the suffering human in the digital era?

Speakers and titles

Susie Linfield, NYU – Perpetrator Images of Atrocity and Suffering: Then and Now

Michael Orwicz and Robin Greeley, Connecticut – The Aesthetics of the Human and the Question of the Perpetrator in Symbolic Reparations
Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths – Curating the Future of the Violent Past: Inscription, Imagination, Anticipation

Pierluigi Musaró, Bologna/LSE – With or Without Borders? Reformist and Radical Contestations of Fortress Europe

Fuyuki Kurasawa – York, Canada – The Making of Mobilizing Virality: On Kony 2012 as a Cautionary Tale

Leshu Torchin, St Andrews – Applicants and Engagements: Mobilizing Digital Humanity

Lilie Chouliaraki, LSE – Hierarchies of Humanity in Digital Testimonies from Conflict Zones

Ella McPherson, Cambridge – Making Sense of Digital Human Rights Images: Humans as Machines, Machines as Humans

Claire Moon, LSE – ‘The bones started telling their stories’: Forensic Humanitarianism and the Art of Making the Dead Speak.

Simon Cottle, Cardiff – Picturing the ‘Human’ in Atrocity Across the Ages – and Why it Matters Today

Social Media, Activism and Organisations Symposium

Social media (from mainstream platforms such as Twitter to organization-specific tools) have become increasingly pervasive. This is exemplified by the diversity of uses ranging from Twitter and Facebook use during the Arab spring to the use of Snapchat by highly surveilled activist groups. Many social movements have increasingly seen social media as a means to collaboratively crowdsource, to network and communicate with diverse stakeholders.

In large organizations, social media is often supported because the technology can help foster the sense of a “digital village”, where individuals are able to “see” the lives of others within their organization and feel closer to them. However, the literature on social movements and social media has not fully grasped just how much social media has fundamentally changed the landscape of organizational communication, ranging from stakeholders being able to directly mobilize resources to making grassroots transnational social movements more organizationally feasible. Social Media, Activism, and Organisations (#SMAO15) seeks to better our understandings of how social media has shaped social movement organizations and the organization of social movements.

The Social Media, Activism, and Organisations symposium will be held in London, England on November 6, 2015 at Goldsmiths, University of London. The symposium is sponsored by The Sociological Review, The Centre for Creative & Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, and the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths.


  • Organisational communication and social media
  • Democratizing organisational structures via social media
  • Gender, social media, activism, and organisations
  • Activist knowledge aggregation techniques
  • Enterprise applications and social activism
  • Collaboration, social media, and activism
  • Virtual teams, social media and activism
  • Activist networks and organizational communication
  • Social media and organizational leadership
  • Communicating organizational messages via social media
  • Social media and advocacy organizations
  • Inter-movement organizational communication and social media
  • Visual social media and organisations
  • Implications of anonymous social media

We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers and the symposium seeks to showcase a variety of case studies to advance our understandings of how social media has shaped social movement organizations and the organization of social movements.

View the full programme on the Social Media, Activism, and Organisations website.

Human Rights Film Festival

Goldsmiths Media and Communications Media Forum in Association with the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy

Human Rights Film Festival, 8 October 2015 - 3 December 2015

Lecture Theatre LG01 6-8pm
Professor Stuart Hall Building

Thursday 8 October 6-8pm

The Look of Silence
and Skype Q&A with Director Joshua Oppenheimer

In the companion film to Oppenheimer’s extraordinary Act of Killing about the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, and confronts the men responsible - something unimaginable in a country where killers remain in power.

“Profound, visionary, stunning” - Werner Herzog

“One of the greatest and most powerful documentaries ever made. A profound comment on the human condition” - Errol Morris

Thursday 12 November 6-8pm

We Are Many
and Q&A with Director Amir Amirani

We Are Many is the story of the biggest protest in history, and how it changed the world. On February 15th, 2003, over 15 million people marched through the streets of 800 cities around the world to try to avert the war against Iraq.

“The only film I have ever watched where the audience started clapping halfway through...” - Huffington Post

Thursday 19 November 6-8pm

She's Beautiful When She's Angry
and Skype Q&A with Director Mary Dore

She's Beautiful When She's Angry resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. It does not shy away from controversies over race, sexual preference and leadership that arose in the women’s movement, and brilliantly captures the spirit of the time -- thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.

Thursday 3 December 6-8pm

A Syrian Love Story
and Q&A with Director Sean McAllister

When McAllister first meets the family in 2009, mum Raghda is back in prison leaving Amer to look after their 4 boys alone; but as the ‘Arab Spring’ sweeps the region, the family’s fate shifts irrevocably. Filmed over 5 years, the film charts their incredible odyssey to political freedom. A journey of hope, dreams and despair: for the revolution, their homeland and each other. Act of Killing


WINNER - Sheffield Docfest 2015 Grand Jury Prize

Visit the Media Forum web page