“Centres and Peripheries:
Communication, Research, Translation”
The 7thECC aims to analyse and to address the theme “Centres and Peripheries: Communication, Research, Translation” in communication from a multiplicity of perspectives.
First, the conference examines the issues of “core” and “margins”, inviting scholars to stretch the boundaries of media and communication research as an academic discipline. “Stretching” media and communication research means bringing attention to underdeveloped fields of research and bringing theories, approaches and methods from other academic fields and disciplines into view. Academic subjects previously not concerned with aspects of mediated communication now acknowledge the role of media and communication processes for their discipline. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for the future role and socio-cultural impact of media and communication research.
Second, the key conference theme of centres and peripheries means reconsidering geographical, cultural and linguistic borders or boundaries. Many areas of media and communication research have been dominated by American and European scholarship, but these traditions can learn methodological and theoretical insights coming, for example, from Asian, South American and African research. In this regard, as the subtitle of the conference emphasizing “translation” suggests, this also requires re-examination in the continual dominance of the English language in academic affairs. There is no doubt that the English language has become the lingua franca in the scientific community, allowing scholars from different countries to communicate and to access each other’s work. Nevertheless, the English language-centrality needs to be questioned and discussed in a plurilingual setting such as the Swiss context and, in particular, when findings in other languages are marginalized, considered peripheral or less important.
Reconsidering borders deals also with the materiality of communication flows. In the present global context of migration and mobility, and where terms such as flow, mobility, multi-cultural, multi-perspective, transcultural, hybrid and fragmented are ubiquitous, the issue of what we consider as communicative centres and peripheries is highly important. This topic addresses also historical and spatial instability, understanding and explaining how certain physical or immaterial entities become centres – or peripheries – for certain issues in critical times (e.g., the Silicon Valley for technological innovation related to the Internet, online communication and network societies).
Third, the key concepts of centres and peripheries in communication are associated with economic and political power. Communication flows often go from rich (central) countries to poor (peripheral) ones. Within single countries distribution of resources are often unequal in terms of information and connectedness between privileged and unprivileged areas (e.g., urban peripheries and rural areas). People in disadvantaged areas are often excluded by flows, forms and practices of communication that are taken-for-granted in richer regions.