ICA Pre-Conference: Thursday 25th May 2023

As part of the Media, War and Conflict Journal’s 15th year anniversary events.


This is the ideal time to assess how new actors, technologies, and global power struggles have challenged the relationship between media and conflict in the 15 years since our first issue was published in April 2008. Disinformation and propaganda studies have moved into the sphere of mainstream media and politics, where extant research in the field of war and media has not always been acknowledged. Journalistic institutions face continued pressures on their authority as the leading interpreters of unfolding events, while reporters on-the-ground are threatened, jailed or murdered with apparent impunity. The images and videos captured on ever-present smart devices not only serve as ‘weapons’ in the legitimation of military and political actions, they also transform the aesthetic and moral understandings of war for observing citizens. Notions of ‘participative war’ (Merrin 2018) and ‘radical war’ (Ford and Hoskins 2022) proffer new characterizations of the current era, understanding digital connectivity as intertwined with the conduct of war, and the precarity of security (human, food, climate, national, transnational).

It is important to remember the human lives at the center of these broader technological and conceptual shifts, raising questions regarding how (dis)information mobilizes and impacts the communities involved. Human rights organizations and open source investigation teams employ forensic techniques with a diverse range of imaging and computational technologies to expose war crimes and advocate for those seeking justice (Ristovska 2021; Smith and Watson 2022). Documentaries and creative research methods can bring activists, filmmakers and scholars together to raise awareness and generate solidarity for those facing insecurity and violence. But whose voices are being mobilized in processes such as these, why and how? Ordinary people are also using new technologies in unprecedented ways, bringing to question the relationship between agency and power, and yet inequalities persist. We encourage critical questions about the inequalities of war including the gendered nature of war, intersections of body and space, and the limitations and discriminations for expressions of voice and visibility enabled by supposedly democratizing communication technologies. Does accessibility to diverse ‘voices’ and counter-narratives actually have any discernable impact on decision-making and accountability in war planning and conduct?

This pre-conference intentionally does not refer to specific wars or locations, and encourages research from regions that traditionally receive less scholarly and media attention.

The Media, War and Conflict journal has a thriving community of contributors, many of whom participated in a 5th anniversary conference in London, a 10th anniversary conference in Florence, and we used this 15th anniversary conference in Toronto to expand this community by bringing in new and early career scholars. ICA 2023 was be a milestone in this continuing journey.

Subjects for included papers can be seen in the Book of Abstracts and included:

  • The visual economy of war, photojournalism, and emergent digital visual cultures
  • Mediated forensics (Smith and Watson 2022), open-source intelligence (OSINT), surveillant technologies, and crowdsourcing in the visualization of war
  • Grassroots and alternative media challenges to official narratives of war and peace
  • The gendered and/or ethnocentric nature of war reporting
  • Frameworks for understanding the new ecologies of war: ‘everywhere war’ (Gregory 2011), ‘participative war’ (Merrin 2018), ‘radical war’ (Ford and Hoskins 2022)
  • Disinformation, ‘fake news’ or falsified imagery in war and conflict situations
  • How the climate crisis is associated with conflicts around the world in media discourse
  • How media platforms (TikTok, Telegram) are reimagining the way citizens encounter war experiences
  • Creative, narrative and visual methods in war and peace research
  • Artistic, film, performance and practice projects
  • Decolonizing the field of war and media
  • Witnessing, ethics and spectatorship
  • Memory, commemoration and archives
  • Strategic narratives and legitimation of war/peace
  • Media coverage of political violence, uprisings, riots and terrorism
  • Reporting of military scandals, abuse, and war crimes



  • Katy Parry, University of Leeds (lead contact)
  • Piotr Cieplak, University of Sussex
  • Sarah Maltby, University of Sussex
  • Dina Matar, SOAS, London
  • Tanner Mirrlees, Ontario Tech University
  • Ben O’Loughlin, Royal Holloway, London
  • Holly Steel, University of Leeds

Sponsors: This pre-conference is sponsored by the Media, War & Conflict Journal (SAGE) and the ICA Visual Communication Studies Division. It is also affiliated with the ICA Journalism Studies division.