Monday, 08 March 2021 06:00

Accepted Panels/Tracks/Roundtables

Here is the list of panels/tracks/etc. we've accepted. Submissions of individual presentations not related to any of these is possible. Please note that all abstracts/proposals (300-500 words) must be submitted through our submission system. Questions may be directed to the panel/track convenors.

Titles

Aging in Data (Roberta Maierhofer and Barbara Ratzenböck, University of Graz, Austria)

Becoming and Individuation in the Encounter between Technical Apparati and Natural Systems in Latin America (Renzo Filinich Orozco, University of Valparaíso, Chile)

Beyond Digital and/or Physical Environments: Building a Research Metaverse (Stephany Peterson, University of New Brunswick, Canada)

Digital Feminism (Georgia Panteli, University of Vienna, Austria)

Digital Games and Theater in America: Theatricalizing Games, Gamifying Theater, Playing into Social Change (Aikaterini Delikonstantinidou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, and Dimitra Nikolaidou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)

Digital Touch: The Haptics of Media Artifacts (Sascha Pöhlmann, University of Innsbruck, Austria)

From Remote Learning to Virtual Exchange: Digital Pedagogies as Cross-Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Opportunities (Alexandra Sterling-Hellenbrand, Appalachian State University, United States)

Imagined Americanized Futures in Video Games (Avery Delany, Goldsmiths, United Kingdom)

New Rules in Digital Spaces: "Recalibrating" Humanity (Williams Rothvoss-Buchheimer, University of Heidelberg, Germany)

On the Road: Placing and Re-Placing the Americas in Video Games (Pawel Frelik, University of Warsaw, Poland)

South of the Test Tube: Approaches to Violence, Viruses, and Digital Culture in Latin American Science Fiction Cinemas (Alfredo Suppia, University of Campinas, Brazil)

What Happens When Social Media and Self-Publishing Platforms Replace Traditional Models of Knowledge? (Patrick Brock, University of Oslo, Norway)

Descriptions

Aging in Data

As many scholars have pointed out, age is also a social and cultural construct. This means that we need to learn what it means to be old in a particular society and culture, at a particular point in history. As Woodward (1999) noted, there is an "omnipresent numerical discourse on aging" concerning the question of which chronological age equals old age. This discourse is facilitated by cultural artifacts, such as literature and film. Thus, in order to learn more about the cultural significance of age/ing (and, as a consequence, how it is "measured" in both science and society more broadly), we need to study these artifacts closely. Research on cultural representations of old age includes several dimensions: (a) analysis of media contents (How is old age represented and constructed in literature, film, and other cultural representations?), (b) analysis of reception of media contents (How do people creatively engage with these contents in the formulation of individual and collective age identities?), (c) analysis of the subversive potential of cultural representations (How can they help change the status quo?).

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Graz

Becoming and Individuation in the Encounter between Technical Apparati and Natural Systems in Latin America

This track revolves around the concepts and processes of Becoming and Algorithmic Individuation based on the reflections of the philosopher Gilbert Simondon; its objective is to analyze and discuss the relational operations between human and non-human entities. To establish these models of biological co-constitution, the idea of the transmissible in relation to life is important to think about this present, where there is no humanity (humanity as an invention) outside the technical, nor prior to the technical, and it is It is important to sustain this idea to highlight this opposition phýsis / téchnē posed from a field of the biopolitical. These resources force us to ask ourselves the following question: How does the technologization and algorithmization of cultural techniques change the very nature of knowledge of the affection of being with others (people, things, animals)? To answer this question, an interdisciplinary study on the effect of this symbiosis and how it can be seen in the full use of knowledge about the foundations of living and non-living matter is necessary and urgent. In conclusion, the implications and limitations of these algorithmic models that are being carried out to present their utility and probability as models of social control, are part of the affective ontogenesis within decision issues that these algorithmic systems agency in the Latin American continent.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Valparaíso

Beyond Digital and/or Physical Environments: Building a Research Metaverse

Digital connectivity and physical connection are as never before preoccupations of our global society. As virtual is temporarily no longer just an option, but our only choice, there is a paradigm shift about its form and use. As we emerge from this enforced reliance on digital, how can we encourage researchers to consider it an active choice of physical and/or digital participant engagement as what best suits the research question, its participants, and—as rarely considered as a measured part of the research process—its collaborators?

As researchers involving human participants, we are encountering specific questions of place: the "where" of engaging with participants in a digital capacity. By harnessing this disruption, we are poised to both better ask, and ask better, questions; particularly, impact on the persistent lag and rate of return of the research to practice process. These are ultimately questions that pertain to the interdisciplinary scholarship of collaborative knowledge mobilization: the nexus of knowledge between those who generate it, and those who use it. What can we aspire to implement in a digital research infrastructure, as the properties of: secure, ethical, and assistive; inclusive, diverse, equitable, accessible; collaborative, engaging, dynamic physical space in a digital sphere for generating, storing, and disseminating qualitative research data whose common purpose is for implementation and resounding impact?

What kind of space could we create that would provide researchers with a way to mindfully gather participants (through improved digital forms of traditional methods) and collaborators (such as funding agencies, social innovation organizations, government and policy makers, knowledge translators and disseminators) into the entirety of the research process? How can we shift social research to contextualize the movement of knowledge, from research to practice; actively and iteratively engaging those most greatly impacted by and with influence on a contextualized contribution to a process for tackling our most pressing and complex social problems?

To position our work and purpose in the emerging future of the Americas, this panel explores a Research Metaverse. We liken the step-wise process of the conference panel experience to the Choose Your Own Adventure model. The panel will engage the audience through a blend of live and pre-recorded steps, guiding them through a selection-based process of pre-recorded videos that, once they reach the conclusion of their customized experience, will return them to a live panel. Then, a Q&A tailored to their chosen experience provides opportunity for further discovery and networking. We see an emerging future of possibility within the digital research infrastructure of the Americas. When the entire scope and scale of what is being created is made clear to all within the process, each contributor has a better understanding of how they fit within the more comprehensive whole. A metaverse is the actioning of an ecosphere: the organization of ecosystems and interconnected relationships in a virtual world for researchers to explore; and, to create and hold space for collaborators, participants, and knowledge users and audiences to thrive in a digital world.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of New Brunswick

Digital Feminism

Access to the internet has given wide access to information. Knowledge is offered abundantly and not filtered through the power of journalists anymore. Everyone can be a witness to a crime, record it and by posting it on the internet, bypass the authority of the media that through the selection process of what and how they published, played a formative role in deciding who the victim and who the perpetrator was. Media could be bought and their publications filtered according to the interests of the moguls who financed them. The digital age has brought about a major change, making even the legal system respond to direct democracy, such as in the cases of Eric Garner's and George Floyd's murders by police officers, recorded on cell phones by bystanders, posted online and contributing to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and ultimately to the police officers facing consequences. While justice has not always been served, police brutality is being addressed as a major issue, especially after footage of the victims has circulated in social media, such as in the case of Sandra Bland, whose death started the #SayHerName movement.

Similarly, having a digital platform that gave voice to everyone, was a significant contributing factor for the fourth wave of feminism to occur. Initiatives such as the #MeToo and the #WhyIStayed movements gave voice to thousands of victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence and often brought the perpetrators to justice. Moreover, they brought awareness about the struggles women face daily and contributed in eliminating bystander culture. Finally, hashtag activism and social media put into question the trust that was previously granted to journalists and TV anchors. Celebrity culture had given a free pass to the media's abusive behavior that was mainly targeting women. The most recent example that shows how digital platforms changed the public's perception and reaction is the case of Britney Spears, who was consistently bullied by the media, a fact that affected her mental health and contributed to the loss of her rights after being forced into a conservatorship. The #freebritney movement was formed by fans who followed leaked documents and other cues revealing she is blackmailed into silence. The movement led to the recent New York Times and Hulu documentary which then caused a series of apologies and a re-evaluation of the ethical limits of journalism today. The example of Britney Spears highlights the fact that even the richest women can be robbed off their voice when misogyny is accepted as the norm.

Contributions are welcome to articulate the digital in relation to feminism set within the wider context of American culture. Suggested themes and areas of inquiry include:

  • Black and intersectional online feminism
  • Social media and the fourth wave of feminism
  • Celebrity culture and media abuse
  • Female mental health and online bullying
  • Female anger and doxing
  • Cybercrime: trolling, online grooming, digital stalkers and perpetrators
  • Hashtag feminism: from the screen to the street
  • Abuse, trauma and online support groups
  • Cyberbullying and teenage suicide

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Vienna

Digital Games and Theater in America: Theatricalizing Games, Gamifying Theater, Playing into Social Change

Both theater and games native to the digital environment have been described as institutions for working out private and cultural complexes (usually but not exclusively) in public. In this thematic track, we aim to show that affinities in the psychosocial dynamics of theaterplay and digital gameplay, as these manifest in America, derive from similarities and correspondences in the design principles, fundamental features, operative conventions, and sociocultural uses of the two, distinct yet increasingly interpenetrating, mediated realms. As American immersive theater productions get more gamified and interactive productions rely more and more on digital technology, as devised and applied theater borrow heavily from gameplay logics and mechanics, and as gaming methodologies are implemented in live theater performances, the aforementioned "points of contact" become more prominent. Beginning from a consideration of how the basics of theater's make-up are mapped onto Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), we will then look into different configurations of the theater-game alliance along the foregoing lines via characteristic theater projects. Our discussion of these "phygital" projects will issue into an examination of how the combination of theater and digital game tools enables a "re-equipping" of contemporary rehearsals of social change played out in entertainment, art, and learning settings.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Digital Touch: The Haptics of Media Artifacts

This thematic track returns the word "digital" to its roots in referencing human fingers, and I propose the notion of touching as an analytic category to engage both analog and digital media artifacts in American culture (embedded in global connections). This approach seeks to consider the haptics of media interaction especially as it relates to meaning production: how does literally handling a book, a board game, or a smartphone app become part of the content offered, created, and co-constructed by such media? How do analog and digital media artifacts use such material self-reflexivity in what they do or say? How do these practices cross generic boundaries, for example between children's books and multimodal fiction? Which technological and economic conditions affect the creation, distribution, and reception of these artifacts? How do non-haptic media artifacts—music, film—comment on this absence, do they seek to simulate or overcome it, or do they operate in deliberate distinction from it? How do paintings and sculptures invite, reject, or even necessitate touch, especially as they are sometimes stowed away in museums behind proximity alarms, or as they are deliberately placed in the public sphere to be explored, manipulated, or climbed? How do haptic aesthetics relate to accessibility in a material sense of (dis)ability, of space, of economics, and also in an immaterial sense of being able to understand?

Raising such questions, a haptic perspective draws attention to aspects that are often neglected in media theories that suggest a digital convergence of analog media in a moment of perfect emulation, and yet it does not simply seek to insist on media-specificity or the more general relevance of embodiment in media usage. Instead, it seeks to explore the rich history of haptic media engagement across the analog/digital divide in order to question rather than reinforce this binary. Given how broad the scope of the topic is in terms of historical depth and contemporary diversity, it should not be approached from a single methodological perspective, and my proposal is geared toward inviting and facilitating a dialogue across disciplines instead of focusing primarily on, say, media studies. For this reason, I would like to use this pitch as a genuinely open call for papers to properly tap into the resource of scholarly diversity and see what original approaches others can contribute, whether theoretical, methodological, or by way of exemplary analyses.

Note: This panel will be in real time.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Innsbruck

From Remote Learning to Virtual Exchange: Digital Pedagogies as Cross-Cultural and Cross-Disciplinary Opportunities

The twenty-first century has reshaped what and how we teach. Even before the global pandemic forced fully online instruction, educators were increasingly using digital tools to expand opportunities to engage with students and with other educators. Recent months have emphasized the need for multi-modal flexibility for teachers and students to be able to quickly shift from digital to physical and back as part of the educational experience.

One unexpected benefit of this digital turn has been the attention granted to cross-cultural exchanges in virtual formats. The pandemic immediately suspended physical study or research abroad in March 2020. Virtual options, previously considered a poor substitute for in-person and on-site experiences, suddenly became a necessity for exchange of any kind. However, as this theme will demonstrate, online class experiences may also provide the catalyst for more in-depth cross-cultural interactions.

In fall 2020, for example, the US presidential election provided a perfect opportunity for this kind of transatlantic and cross-disciplinary exchange. Faculty from Appalachian State University and the University of Innsbruck collaborated to bring students from multiple courses together to discuss the election. The students from Appalachian came from diverse fields (such as German, Global Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science, and International Business); students from the University of Innsbruck were enrolled in the Bachelor's program English and American Studies as well as Secondary School Teacher Training for the subject English. In two online sessions, the roughly 60 participants were divided into smaller groups with about the same number of students from each university. In the first session prior to election day, their task was to discuss what, in their estimation, the most important election-related issues were. In the second session, which took place shortly after the election was called for Joe Biden, they shared their experiences following the election news coverage as well as their expectations of how things would unfold until the inauguration. The course instructors provided guiding questions for these sessions, but left the students to discuss among themselves. The student groups then reconvened and briefly presented their findings to everyone.

Students from both sides of the Atlantic gave very positive feedback about these sessions. The students from Austria particularly emphasized how valuable it was for them to connect with American students as opposed to the more common guest lectures where they only get to experience faculty members from other universities, disciplines, and countries. The students from Appalachian were impressed with how well-informed the Austrian students were about US elections and several have subsequently expressed more interest in finding additional opportunities to engage with their European counterparts.

This proposed track accordingly seeks to share applied experiences like this in teaching across disciplines and oceans. Sessions will model current pedagogical practice in student-to-student engagement; they will also provide practical "take-aways" for colleagues who want to pursue cross-cultural digital exchanges with other educators and their students in Austria and the Americas. Topics may include technical support and discussion formats to course organization and strategies for making the most of institutional partnerships.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Appalachian State University

Imaginaries of Americanized Futures in Video Games

While our earthly world and lives were seemingly brought to a standstill during Covid-19, many of us found ourselves traveling to other worlds, inhabiting different bodies, and traversing divergent futures through video games. Though video games allow developers and players alike to (re)imagine and play in worlds/bodies/futures radically different from our own, such worlds/bodies/futures frequently rely on and envision certain kinds of "Americanized" dreams. This track therefore welcomes a wide variety of papers which critically engage with the theme of Americanization, future imaginaries, and video games to explore what kinds of worlds/bodies/futures are being envisioned, how players interact with these virtual realities, and what it means to create such imaginaries. The track organizer particularly welcomes contributions which focus on Americanized worldbuilding, BIPOC futurisms, queerness, disability, and class.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Goldsmiths

New Rules in Digital Spaces: "Recalibrating" Humanity

With the recent shift towards digital spaces in most domains of society, a seemingly inevitable development has been brought to fruition: Humanity is now—almost exclusively—living in digital spaces, which claim to have been designed to "take care" of our needs. Video games and streaming platforms promise to bring entertainment and thanks to messaging apps and social media, we are meant to never feel lonely again. Scrolling through the endless feed of information wakes us up in the morning and tucks us in at night. We are always (if we choose to) at the center of the next big thing—one personalized ad away from purchasing our next big, dream object.

That these (digital) spaces operate according to their own rules and based on obfuscated value hierarchies and political principals has become increasingly obvious. This panel aims to explore (1) the underlying "rules" and "politics" that keep digital spaces operational, (2) their consequences on human behavior and thought and (3) their interplay in a grander societal scheme.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Heidelberg

On the Road: Placing and Re-Placing the Americas in Video Games

This session seeks presentations focused on the representations of the Americas in digital games that are centrally designed around colonization, expansion, movement, and/or mobility. The panel decidedly excludes narrative-centered titles which (naturally) feature movement, but are often grounded in specific places—e.g. Far Cry 5 (2018), Far Cry 6 (2019), and Deux Ex (2000). Instead, contributions which "scale up" questions of movement are encouraged. Vehicle simulators (trucks, railways, aircrafts) and strategy games are the most obvious examples in this context, but other genres are welcome, too.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • erasure, omission, and/or patching of history, geography, economy, and communality in games such as American Truck Simulator (2016)
  • representation of geography and geopolitics in strategy games
  • urban spaces in racing, driving, and sports games
  • representation of non-U.S. locations and regions
  • glimpsed or "incomplete" Americas in games that downplay the verisimilitude of the location.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Warsaw

South of the Test Tube: Approaches to Violence, Viruses, and Digital Culture in Latin-American Science Fiction Cinemas

This panel offers a mosaic of approaches to Latin-American science fiction that hinges on the latest "short-circuits" in the continent's political scenario; i.e., clashes between past and present, present and future, black/brown peoples and the elites, civil rights and authoritarian states, etc. By addressing topics such as Afrofuturism in Brazilian cinema, the pandemic imaginary in the Argentinean film industry, representations of violence in Mexican science fiction, and digital dystopias in contemporary Brazilian cinema, the track invites a composite, polyphonic, and modular approach to cinematic thought experiments shaped after the long-lasting history of violence against Latin-American bodies, at all levels—both microscopic and macroscopic violence, from viruses to social repression put forth by the status quo.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Campinas

What Happens When Social Media and Self-Publishing Platforms Replace Traditional Models of Knowledge Production?

My research into Brazilian online communities shows that social media and blogging are replacing traditional media and academia as the working space of intellectual debate and cultural production for younger generations. The debate over who created the science-fiction subgenre "sertãopunk" is one example of this process and shows the liquidity and cross-pollination of cultural debates online. Sertãopunk is a SF subgenre inspired by the geography and culture of the Northeast of Brazil. This semi-arid and economically underdeveloped region sends its migrants to work as an underclass in the more affluent cities of Southeast Brazil. In this context, the debate over sertãopunk raises intra-national prejudice issues because, once the subgenre emerged and gained popularity, Northeast readers, writers and creators sought to reject stereotyping and lay claim to this vision by echoing identity struggles already taking place among Afro-Brazilians. Therefore, this thematic track will question the consequences of this online shift to the overall debate. Does it become more profound or superficial, for instance? Is online media more conducive to cross-pollination from identity issues of different areas? How constructive can these mini culture wars be to an understanding of place of enunciation and identity issues? How self-publication platforms affect notions of genre? I hope to divulge my findings, with tentative responses to some of these questions, and learn what others are researching, particularly in science fiction, fantasy, and horror fandom in the Americas.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., University of Oslo

 

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