Conference announcement: ‘Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power’

I’m excited to announce the conference Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power, which will explore how media (particularly film and television) are used as soft power tools in relations between emerging markets and western countries. The conference will take place on 20 and 21 May 2019 at the University of Bologna. I am co-organizing this conference with my colleagues Marco Cucco (University of Bologna), who is the main organizer, and Zhan Zhang (Università della Svizzera italiana). This is the call for papers:

Media, Diplomacy and Soft Power:

Exploring the Relations Between Emerging Markets and Western Countries

Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti, May 20th-21st, 2019

Confirmed keynote speakerStanley Rosen (University of Southern California)

A second keynote speaker will be soon announced

Organized by Marco Cucco (Università di Bologna), Gertjan Willems (University of Antwerp) and Zhan Zhang (Università della Svizzera italiana)

Media products, in particular audiovisual works, have always been used both as soft power tools for shaping or branding the image and reputation of their producing countries, and as a diplomatic platform for facilitating international relations and trade. Soft power strategies involve public and private stakeholders working in different areas within a wide, complex and well-orchestrated plan. However, due to the fundamental role of culture, media always play a crucial role in any plan of soft power and strategic marketing.

The conference aims at understanding how media products serve for diplomatic and soft power purposes, with a focus on emerging markets. While traditional flows of communication moved from the Western world to other regions (as in the case of Hollywood films), nowadays the most sophisticated and innovative soft power plans are going in the opposite direction: from developing countries to Western Europe and the United States. Not only do countries like China, India, South Korea and Mexico have more and more skillful and powerful media companies and professionals, they are also intensively working and negotiating to spread their media products and brands abroad and to create international co-productions and new media ventures. Within these collaborations and expansion strategies, Western Europe and the United States also became their targeted markets.

Investigating these dynamics is very challenging for scholars. Soft power strategies are often based on “unwritten” political decisions; they usually aim at reaching intangible goals, and their analysis requires expertise from several research areas (political sciences, economics, media studies, etc.). In light of these challenges, the conference aims at a better understanding of the role played by media products in international diplomacy and as soft power tools of developing countries favoring a dialogue between scholars from different research fields and geographic areas. In line with its founding purposes, the Media Mutations conference series aims to serve as a platform for discussing methodologies, sharing expertise and promoting a multi-disciplinary approach.

The 11th edition of Media Mutations encourages submissions that cover the following subjects and topics:

  • Mapping of public and private stakeholders involved in soft power strategies of emerging markets, with a focus on creative industries;
  • The role of media within soft power strategies of emerging markets;
  • Case studies of single countries (economic and cultural goals; policies; international agreements; development and performance of media products, etc.);
  • Case studies of particular media companies/organizations for their success/failure (corporate strategy, output, markets, economic results, etc.);
  • Case studies of particular media products for their success/failure (content design; financing; international distribution/circulation; reception in the national market and in foreign markets);
  • Soft power and national branding;
  • The implementation of soft power into media practices;
  • The places of networking for diplomatic and soft power purposes (fairs, markets at festivals, etc.);
  • Relations between developing countries and international organizations (e.g. European Union, World Trade Organization, etc.) in the field of media;
  • Methodological approaches for investigating soft power strategies and their tangible/intangible results.

The official language of the conference is English. Abstracts (300-500 words for 20-minute talks) should be sent to mediamutations.org@gmail.com by January 20th, 2019. Please attach a brief biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to five references). Notification of acceptance will be sent by February 18 th. A registration fee will be requested after notification of paper acceptance (€60 for speakers and professional attendants; free conference admission for students).

This Conference is financially supported by Centro Dipartimentale La Soffitta and Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna, and sponsored by the ECREA Film Studies Section.

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