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Spatializing environmental rumors

Spatialiser les rumeurs environnementales

« Géocarrefour » Review

Revue « Géocarrefour »

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Published on Friday, May 25, 2018 by Elsa Zotian

Summary

This call for papers for the journal Géocarrefour aims to question rumors with a spatialized look. The sociologists’ works have already taken a keen interest in rumors, understanding this phenomenon from a spatial point of view implies thinking about what a territory does to rumors and what rumors do to territories. Rumors are at first sight unstable, elusive in their (spatial) materiality. However, their intangible dimension seems to be able to incarnate itself in the territories, to influence their representations, and even to modify the practices of the actors of the territory. The aim of the texts will be to clarify and interpret the territorial anchors of rumors: where do they come from, a very precise place or a set of places? What event caused it? Where did it happen? Is its discourse reported directly or indirectly? What representations of the territory do such rumors convey? The contributions will focus on rumors about environmental issues, which is not yet studied.

Announcement

Argument

Rumor can be defined as "inaccurate or exaggerated information that distorts itself as it is transmitted directly by word of mouth or indirectly, through the media information" (Scharnitzky, 2007). It has known a semantic evolution underlined by Pascal Froissard (2000), with a founding work by Edgar Morin (1982). But it was in 1902 that Stern had conceptualized it: what makes the rumor is the constant repetition of an initial discourse by several experimenters. The power of the press and other media will continue to grow in spreading and remobilizing rumors until today.

This call for papers for the journal Géocarrefour aims to question rumors with a spatialized look. The sociologists’ works have already taken a keen interest in rumors (including Campion-Vincent and Renard, 1990), understanding this phenomenon from a spatial point of view implies thinking about what a territory does to rumors and what rumors do to territories. Rumors are at first sight unstable, elusive in their (spatial) materiality. However, their intangible dimension seems to be able to incarnate itself in the territories, to influence their representations, and even to modify the practices of the actors of the territory. In the north of Cotentin, for example, rumors have spread that the bridge over the Carentan marshes was mined in order to isolate the peninsula from the event of a nuclear accident, thus contributing to a frightening representation of the nuclear peninsula and incarnating it as a territory subject to a major risk.

The aim of the texts will be to clarify and interpret the territorial anchors of rumors: where do they come from, a very precise place or a set of places? What event caused it? Where did it happen? Is its discourse reported directly or indirectly? What representations of the territory do such rumors convey? These questions, with spatialization as a guiding thread, can be taken into account by different disciplines so we invite contributors from various fields of science to propose an article in which "the analysis of rumors must, however, be linked to that of the territory in order to define its role" (Boudou, 2015, p. 368).

The contributions will focus on rumors about environmental issues, which is not yet studied (Brodu, 1990; Boudou, 2015, using the example of Abbeville's rumor in 2000-2001). We will consider the environment as a social construct subject to differentiated appropriations according to social groups. With spatial and environmental questions, the authors will be able to answer some non-exhaustive questions proposed below.

The socio-spatial anchoring of environmental rumors

 “Rumor can also be defined as the pooling of the group's intellectual resources to reach a satisfactory interpretation of the event" (Shibutani, 1966): it is therefore a social construct categorized by groups that participate in the culture of a society. In the sense of Paul Claval's definition, culture refers to a "set of mental patterns, scales of values and techniques of action and transaction that delimit the scope of possible behaviors and the scope of behaviors considered desirable in a group" (2015, p. 136). What are the original actors ? Can we identify "typical portraits of culprits who will be fixed for a long time in mentalities" (Chalvet, 2016)? Are the rumors more or less distorted and diffused according to places, actors, societies? How are the networks mobilized? Depending on the issues, are there any "amplification chambers" to rumors? What crossroads places transform them? Are the access, the dissemination and taking into account of rumors not dependent on socio-spatial inequalities? The contributions will also ask who makes a diagnosis of rumor, often aiming at disqualifying the narrative (Froissard, 2010). Where does the counter-offensive come from? Do those whistleblowers put forward spatial irrationalities in what they call rumors? The aim will be to analyze the supposed gap between those who question and those who are called into question (whether they are other human or non-human) and to situate in space the physical and social distance between those who suffer and those who are supposed to provoke. Where do rumors stop? Are there boundaries according to spaces, social groups? It will be interesting to propose maps of rumors, linked with the works mapping narratives (Fournier, 2016).

The temporalities of environmental rumors

The contributions will be able to take into account current discourses, for example a cultural geography of environmental rumors, or past ones, like a geohistory, in order to also show what makes the specificity of each time and/or each rumor in its diffusion and spatial mobilization. Comparing the temporalities of different rumors will also allow us to see how each epoch constructs its own definition of the rumor. Rumors are universal and timeless "and they will remain so: they fulfil vital social and psychological functions for individuals" (Scharnitzky, 2007). Do they have any specificity according to their propagation periods? The geohistory of a precise rumor related to its chronological sequence will also be analyzed on a finer scale. Where do they spread according to the actors who reproduce them and how quickly?

Rumor and the making of environmental events

Uncertainties, rumors and false truths can accompany the speeches on any event, concerning environmental subject highlighted by the contributions to that special issue. The contributors will then be able to ask whether some environmental events are more or less conducive to the expression of rumors or how rumors can contribute to the making of certain environmental events. On the one hand, environmental disasters can be very subject to rumors on different spatial scales: tsunamis, cyclones, floods, volcanic eruptions... This type of event can be analyzed through scientific, vernacular, cultural, religious interpretations that will compete, generate different forms of repeated rumors. On the other hand, according to the times, some less damaging events, or mediatic ones, may have aroused more targeted rumors in a region and in a social group. The Nautilus, regarded as a marine monster in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, is a good example of the rumors spreading in maritime circles. The contributions may also focus on the study of rumors surrounding some "great fears", rumors linked to possible territorialized environmental degradation, such as the fear of nuclear winter or acid rain.

Dissemination of environmental fake news and their networks

With the rise of direct information sharing via the Internet, new rumors have emerged and can have a huge impact: the "fake news". According to Frédéric Lordon (2018), they are a recent "obsession" and are symptomatic of a crisis of legitimacy from the authorities. It may then be interesting to question some manipulative environmental fictions or rumors from the viewpoint of this new expression. The texts will be able to question the material source of these fake news: what do they say about environmental phenomena and their socio-spatial reception, depending on whether they take the form of a fake image, a false testimony or a convoluted narrative...? The form of interactions and exchanges between individuals via networks will also be questioned in the analysis of environmental fake news. Where can institutions and networked media help to affect the diffusion? How are fake news disseminated, propagated, through what information channels?

Submission guidelines

This thematic project extend the works and reflections that have taken place during the seminar "Environmental Rumors and Fake news" at CERES (interdisciplinary teaching center for the study of environmental questions, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Ulm) in early 2018, bringing together researchers in geography, history, sociology, ethnology, biochemistry, geochemistry, environmental science and economics.

Authors may contact the coordinators of the issue, Alexis Metzger (alexis. metzger[at]ens. fr) and Annaig Oiry (annaig. oiry[at]gmail. com) to declare their interest in a one-page summary

by June 30, 2018

and ask all questions in relation to this text.

The papers are to be received no later than 30th September 2018 for a planned publication in early 2019. They must respect the journal's criterion (http://journals.openedition.org/geocarrefour/1017) and write in French or English, with an optimum volume of 40,000 characters spaces included.

Articles will be evaluated through a double blind test by the reading committee. The authors will be notified of the decision and receive correcting instructions by the end of 2018.

Scientific coordinators

  • Alexis Metzger, docteur en géographie, ATER au CERES, ENS-Ulm
  • Annaig Oiry, docteur en géographie, PRAG à l’ESPE de l’université Paris-Est Créteil

References

  • Boudou Martin, Approche multidisciplinaire pour la caractérisation d’inondations remarquables. Enseignements tirés de neuf évènements en France (1910-2010). Thèse de l’université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, soutenue le 30/11/2015. Sous la direction de Freddy Vinet et Michel Lang.
  • Brodu Jean-Louis. Une rumeur de sécheresse. In: Communications, 52, 1990. Rumeurs et légendes contemporaines, sous la direction de Véronique Campion-Vincent et Jean-Bruno Renard. pp. 85-97.
  • Campion-Vincent Véronique et Jean-Bruno Renard (sous la direction de), Communications, 52, 1990. Rumeurs et légendes contemporaines.
  • Chalvet Martine, « La vulnérabilité de la forêt provençale face aux incendies : naissance d’une notion
  • (fin XIXe siècle) », VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement [En ligne], Volume 16
  • numéro 3 | décembre 2016, mis en ligne le 20 décembre 2016, consulté le 27 janvier 2017. URL :
  • http://vertigo.revues.org/18012
  • Claval Paul, Penser le monde en géographe. Soixante ans de réflexion, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2015.
  • Fournier Mauricette, Cartographier les récits, Presses de l’université Blaise Pascal, Clermont Ferrand, 2016.
  • Froissart Pascal, « L’invention du “plus vieux média du monde” », MÉI « Médiation et information », n° 12-13, 2000.
  • Lordon Frédéric, « Fake news : le vrai du faux », La Grande table, France culture, 19 janvier 2018.
  • Morin Edgar, La rumeur d’Orléans, Paris, Seuil, 1982.
  • Rouquette Michel-Louis, « Le syndrome de rumeur », Communications, n° 52, 1990.
  • Scharnitzky Patrick, « La fonction sociale de la rumeur », Migrations Société 2007/1 (n° 109), p. 35-48.
  • Shibutani T., Improvised News : A Sociological Study of Rumor, Indianapolis, Bobbs Merrill, 1966.

Places

  • Lyon, France (69)

Date(s)

  • Saturday, June 30, 2018

Keywords

  • environnement, rumeur, spatialité, fake news, réseaux

Contact(s)

  • Alexis Metzger
    courriel : alexis [dot] metzger [at] ens [dot] fr
  • Annaig Oiry
    courriel : annaig [dot] oiry [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • André Buisson
    courriel : andre [dot] buisson [at] univ-lyon3 [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Spatializing environmental rumors », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 25, 2018, https://calenda.org/441522

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