Knowledge Base

53rd Annual ISA Convention - San Diego, CA: 2012

Power, Principles, and Participation in the Global Information Age

April 1st - 4th, 2012
San Diego, CA, USA
Program Chairs: Judith Kelley, Duke University, and Layna Mosley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Call for Proposals

Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message,” and coined the term “global village.” McLuhan died in 1980, but his insights are even more relevant today. The information environment is drastically different from that of even a decade ago, as new forms of information flows come into existence almost annually. Facebook now has over 500 million users, and Twitter, a service barely in existence three years ago, counts over 175 million users. These tools are not only for finding long-lost school friends or sharing pictures of loved ones: they often are used for political purposes. For instance, both text messages and tweets served as vital communication tools during the 2009 post-election protests in Iran. Indeed, Reuters reported that United States government went so far as to ask Twitter to postpone maintenance and maintain service during this time. Humanitarian groups also use these communications technologies to bring attention to events worldwide: in the wake of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, the Red Cross collected $30 million in SMSbased donations from US phone users. And the 2010 elections witnessed US political candidates (and their staffs) tweeting and facebooking like never before.

The theme of this year’s conference is inspired by the apparent impact of new information and communication technologies on international and transnational affairs. Information has altered power relations; it has help to globalize norms and principles; it has the potential to bring new participants into political and social processes world-wide. From geographic information systems that bring satellite images to our research to sophisticated form of electronic textual analysis to internet surveys, it is undeniable that a whole range of new technologies is affecting the way we think about and do research in international studies.

How have the rapid and fundamental changes in information and communication technologies influenced the political environment and altered global connections? We welcome papers and panels that consider these broad questions, as well as those that address related questions, including:

•  How and to what extent has the global availability of information undercut the monopoly of state authorities to define and control "the truth"? How has information impacted political and social authority - e.g., in countries as diverse as China, Russia, and the United States? How has information impacted the relationship between private and public actors? What about national security in an era of Wikileaks? We welcome papers that think through what new forms of information technology mean for the “strength” of the state, its ability to control information, frame and manipulate political discourse, and what this means for states’ relationships with a broad range of private actors.

•  What new forms of civil society cooperation (local, transnational, global) are premised on the cheap availability of information, as well as on low communications costs? How have strategies of existing civil society groups changed in response to new communications technologies? Are some traditional groups, or groups in some regions of the world, disadvantaged by the rise of new technologies? Is the way people communicate undermining social capital or producing a new type of social capital? We welcome papers that explore the ways in which new information technologies have affected civil society organization, cooperation and participation at all levels of politics.

•  How is information transmitted, and what are the political, economic and distributional implications of various models of transmission? Do social networks matter in the transmission of information, and in its interpretation? Does “new media” differ from or change the role of the traditional media? We welcome papers that explore the social consequences of new information technologies – who benefits, but also who is excluded, in comparative perspective.

•  How does information affect global governance? Have modern forms of information transmittal increased participation in national, transnational and global affairs? Has it contributed to transparency in global governance? Does it democratize international governance systems? We welcome papers that look at the implications of new information technologies for global governance, accountability, and participation. In particular, we encourage papers that think through the availability of information for the global strategic environment, broadly understood.

•  How has the availability of information impacted international studies as an academic discipline? What are the most important new sources of information available to researchers in recent years? In what ways does the flood of information change the methods by which we assess arguments and validate truth claims? Has the wealth of information encouraged consensus on what constitutes "evidence" or has it undermined such consensus? What new questions are we able to ask – as well as potentially to answer? We welcome papers that examine the impact of the information revolution on modern international studies research, from satellite-based data, to web-scraping to electronic document coding projects. Furthermore, we welcome reflection on how new information and communication technologies alter the questions we are able to ask, as well as critical reflections on the limits of new ways of “knowing.”


Posted in: Conferences

The International Studies Association

Representing over 100 countries, ISA has more than 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 7 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
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