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President-Elect's Welcome

Posted By Terry Flew (Queensland U of Technology), Tuesday, July 3, 2018

With the record-breaking ICA Annual Conference in Prague only just behind us, it seems daunting to start talking about the 69th ICA Annual Conference, to be held at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, USA, from 24-28 May. But plan we must, and developments are already well in train.

The theme of the 2019 ICA Annual Conference is Communication Beyond Boundaries. With this theme, we are seeking to better understand the role of communication in the crossing of social, political, and cultural boundaries that characterize contemporary societies and the global system. The Theme Chair is Hilde van den Bulck (U of Antwerp).  

We are looking for work that crosses the boundaries of research domains, fields of research interest, and of academia and the wider community. Examples of how we see communication and media as featuring in forms of social, political, and cultural boundary crossing include:

  • the discursive work involved in thinking beyond binary boundaries in contemporary politics of social and cultural identities;

  • the role of social media in re-defining the boundaries between fact and fake, and between science and beliefs, affecting the politics of knowledge and the epistemology of science;

  • the changing nature of interpersonal and intercultural communication in an age of globalized digital identities that sit alongside geographical mobility;

  • the challenges faced by journalists and media workers in providing news, information and entertainment across borders and boundaries, as populist governments challenge independent reporting and open cultural expression;

  • implications for communication law and policy and political communication as pressures for nation-states to regulate digital media platforms grow;

  • the place of communication technologies in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things, questioning what it means to be human; and

  • the growing recognition of the role of the brain as a window in to attitudinal and behavioral change and its repercussion for marketing and entertainment as well as children’s well-being.

These examples emphasize that it is timely to consider the boundary-crossing nature and relevance/impact of contemporary communication. This requires interdisciplinary research that crosses the silos of disciplines and research fields. With the theme of Communication Beyond Boundaries, we encourage research that spans across particular research domains, and across the boundaries constructed by particular fields of research interest.

We invite researchers to look beyond divisional and sub-disciplinary boundaries, as diverse examples such as intersectionality and health communications’ current shift of focus to entertainment education have shown to be fruitful paths to new insights. Communication has long been a highly porous field, or what Silvio Waisbord (George Washington U) has recently termed a ‘post-discipline’, shaping and being shaped by its interaction with many academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. With the rapid expansion of digital communication, and growing awareness of the environmental impact of human activity, the extent of its engagement with the natural as well as the human sciences is also increasingly apparent.

As communication scholars, we have important insights into areas as diverse as bioethics, AI, robotics, and cryptocurrencies, as well as how to create more just and equal multicultural societies. This encourages us to think about the role of academics in crossing the boundaries of academia into the wider society, culture and polity, as advisers and activists, and reaching out to regulators, industries, civil society organisations and activist groups.

This is the first of what will be a regular series of updates on the 2019 ICA Annual Conference. I look forward to working with all of you on a successful event of lasting significance.

Tags:  June-July 2018 

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