Events,  Publications

CFP: Communication and Conflict: Syria and Iraq

Conference and Special Issue

Organized by: Centre for Media Studies, SOAS

Conference Venue: Khalili Lecture Room, SOAS Date: 7 May 2016

One of the most popular topics in public discourse and research today is the role of media in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, driven by concerns about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its social media recruitment efforts and propaganda, threats of radicalisation in Western countries, political and sexual violence, hate speech and racism. Much of the research, however, is often carried out as a knee-jerk response to moral panics (or crises) over real events – such as the reaction to the growing refugee numbers and the related phenomenon of racism, terrorist acts outside the zones of conflict, mediated spectacles of violence as well as dominant perceptions of the role of new media in political violence and extremism. What remains missing are empirically-grounded analyses of the different ways in which key local, regional and international state and non-state actors – the US, the UK, France Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Hezbollah and ‘IS’ – appropriate and selectively use existing ‘cultures of communication’ to construct, mediate and narrate discourses through different processes, such as public diplomacy, information warfare and complex practices of production and consumption. What is also absent are critical analyses of why some mediated events are made visible and others are not and whose voices are heard while others are excluded.

Cultures of communication, which broadly refer to the symbiotic relationship between language and culture, underpin human dynamics and relations in every society and therefore are not only important resources through which conflict is communicated and new identities imagined, but can also be constitutive of conflict, helping shape it and the social and political power relations around it. As such, addressing how cultures of communication are constitutive of conflict requires an interrogation of the dynamics of narrative (discourse) and power and the dynamics of narrative and resistance in the context of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq while not losing sight of political and military developments. Furthermore, such an interrogation would broaden the analysis beyond the narrow optic of social media.

This call invites scholars and experts in the fields of media, political communication, politics, diplomacy and international relations, social movement and cultural studies to address how the long-term conflicts in Syria and Iraq are constructed in local and regional contests over power and narrative. While the literature has shown that narratives can shape subjects and politics, the relationship is complex and dynamic and cannot be addressed without considering the military and political contexts within which narratives are produced, circulated and reproduced. As such, this call is particularly interested in historically-grounded empirically-supported papers addressing the innovative ways in which the conflicts are narrated and discussed; the relationship between language and culture and between aesthetics and image as well as the diverse practices of production, consumption and circulation of particular discourses and how these relate to the changing material contexts within which they exist. Specifically, the call seeks papers focusing on local, regional and international state and non-state actors’ selective appropriation of existing cultures of communications and of digital archiving as strategic tools in the ongoing battle over ideologies and identities. Along with the broad themes and aims of the conference and the special issue, we invite papers addressing some of the broad themes below through using empirically-grounded analyses of specific case studies:

  • Representation. Who is represented, who is ignored and which constituents are addressed?
  • Narrative,Image and language
  • Aesthetics and Affect.
  • Communication and policy
  • Islamophobia, migration and other moral panics
  • Geography, space and place…does it matter?
  • Propaganda, global diplomacy and conflict
  • Strategic communication

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 31 January 2016

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and should provide a short explanation of your contribution to this special issue, provide a clear description of the proposed approach, the theoretical framework and empirical data.

Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 15 February 2016

For the journal issue:

Deadline for submission of complete manuscripts: 30 June 2016

Articles should be between 6000- 7000 words long and include an abstract of 150 words, the author’s affiliation and email address and at least five keywords

Please send a paper proposal along with a short bio by 31 January 2016 to

Dina Matar at

MEJCC is a peer-reviewed journal published by Brill three times a year