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Politics and Popular Cultures

Cultures populaires et politique

Colloque PCAoF (« Popular Culture Association of France ») 2022

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Published on Thursday, July 22, 2021 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

The aim of this conference will be to see how current politics is influenced in its representations, communication, decisions, economy and mode of operation by popular culture. The historical depth of the links between politics and popular culture will also be explored.

Announcement

Argument

The first part of the "Politics and Popular Cultures" conference, which took place in December 2019 at La Rochelle University, sought to reveal, question and study the links between politics and popular culture. It was interesting to question this field of research, which is still little studied in France, comparing and contrasting two sometimes contradictory and conflicting spheres. This event was the occasion for the foundation of the "Popular Culture Association of France" and the creation of the affiliated journal Mobilis in Mobile, which will publish the work presented at this first colloquium shortly.

Due to a strike, the conference could not welcome all the speakers initially invited, so we propose to continue our work with a second conference on the same theme. This event is planned to take place at La Rochelle University from 9 to 11 March 2022. 

Popular cultures have long appropriated the theme of politics, using numerous means of expression such as cartoons, songs and fictional stories, which constitute true distorting mirrors capable of questioning modes of governance and the role of politics in its interactions with economic and military power, and, of course, with the media. The opposite has also been true for a long time. Walter Benjamin, for example, links politics and mass culture in his book The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility (1955), in which he underlines the risks of the mediatisation of politics in dictatorships, notably fascism and Nazism, through the cult of the image and propaganda favoured by the new media of the time. Guy Debord, in 1967, extended this critique in La Société du spectacle. The loss of aura and authenticity becomes total: everything is now a spectacle in mass media society. In One-Dimensional Man (1964), Herbert Marcuse reinforces this pessimistic observation of mass manipulation in modern societies through the mass media. According to Marcuse, no regime is exempt from this: neither capitalism nor communism...

The entry into the digital age and social networks has accelerated and highlighted the use of popular culture in the conquest and exercise of power. ‘Populism' (we will putting the term between inverted commas) has joined the popular here... Twitter has thus become the favourite communication channel of, among others, the former president of one of the world’s leading powers. By using one of the mainstream social networks, Donald Trump thus extended a previous relationship with popular culture. From being a "designer" through his reality shows, he has become a "user" and also a "character" and a caricature of mass culture. The infamous fake news have become, in a short time, a very efficient means of manipulating the masses, as it is difficult to erase these modern day rumours, as we saw during the recent presidential campaigns. Popular culture has gone from being media-based to being a medium in politics. Once despised because it was linked to the masses, it is now, particularly since the development of the internet, a mandatory means of gaining the public's trust or its votes, a common reference point between the plebeian and the electorate, where television series become the new illustrations and/or weapons of political or even geopolitical stakes and denunciations, examples being Chernobyl, House of Cards, Baron noir, Borgen and The Salisbury Poisonings.

The porosity between politics and popular culture is also fully illustrated in the impregnation of reality by protest symbols from "pop culture". The mask worn by the anarchist in V for Vendetta is an effigy of Guy Fawkes, a historical opponent of the English political regime linked to the London Powder Conspiracy of 1605. Mediatised by James McTeigue's 2006 film, he was then returned to reality and, paradoxically, to political and social protest by Anonymous and the Occupy Movement on Wall Street (2011). The Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao" has been repopularized by the series La Casa de Papel, which portrays its characters as resisting the system.

The links between popular culture and politics are not confined to representations in fiction; the fields of expression of mass culture are multiple. Sport in general, and football in particular, is an example of the meld of popular culture with political and economic issues. Similarly, the SuperBowl in the United States shows the multiple facets of a cultural practice that combines economic, political, media, cultural and sporting issues.

Like these examples, which illustrate the porosity between politics and popular culture, the aim of this conference will be to see how current politics is influenced in its representations, communication, decisions, economy and mode of operation by popular culture. The historical depth of the links between politics and popular culture will also be explored.

The proposals may address different fields of study and combine them (sociology, anthropology, political studies, civilisation, history, literature, economics, media, journalism, linguistics, etc.), different countries, and deal with all areas of popular culture (visual arts (TV and internet series, cinema, comics, videos and YouTube channels, etc.), different "genres" of fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective stories, pulp fiction, etc.), sport, music, collectibles, cultural and media practices, games (role-plays, video games, board games, etc.), toys, literature, etc.

However, we would like to remind you that this colloquium will be about the use of popular culture by politics or the politicisation of popular culture (thus a tool for social/political contestation, etc.) and not about the representation of politics in/through popular culture.

How to submit

Abstracts (of about 400 words) and a short biography should be sent jointly to Danièle André daniele.andre@univ-lr.fr, Annabel Audureau annabel.audureau@univ-lr.fr and Frank Healy frank.healy@univ-lr.fr.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 1 October 2021.

We are also pleased to announce that this will be the second colloquium of the Popular Culture Association of France and time will also be devoted to this issue.

Keynote Speaker

  • Matt Davies, Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy, Director for the MA in World Politics and Popular Culture, Newcastle University.
  • Diane Negra, Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture, School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin.

Scientific Committee

  • Danièle André
  • Annabel Audureau
  • Sergio Coto-Rivel
  • Nathalie Dufayet 
  • Estelle Epinoux
  • Frank Healy
  • Hervé Lagoguey 
  • David Lipson
  • Sylvie Mikowski 

Selected bibliography

Books

  • Caso, F. And Hamilton, Caitlin (Eds.), Popular Culture and World Politics: Theories, Methods, Pedagogies, E-International Relations, Bristol, 2015.
  • Leah A. Murray (Ed.), Politics and Popular Culture, Cambridge Scholars Publishing; New edition (July 1, 2010).
  • Edsforth, R. & Bennett, L. (Eds), Popular Culture and Political Change in Modern America, SUNY series in Popular Culture and Political Change,1991. 

Articles

  • Bradley, J.M. (1997). “Political, Religious and Cultural Identities: The undercurrents of Scottish football.” Politics17(1), 25-32.
  • Clapton, W., “Popular Culture Matters: Defining ‘Politics’” inPopular Culture & World Politics, Jul 26 2018, https://www.e-ir.info/2018/07/26/popular-culture-matters-defining-politics-in-popular-culture-world-politics/
  • Cloonan, M., Street, J. (1998), “Rock the Vote: Popular Culture and Politics.”, Politics, 18(1), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9256.00058
  • Dorzweiler, N. (2017), “Popular Culture in (and out of) American Political Science: A Concise Critical History,” 1858–1950. History of the Human Sciences, 30(1), 138–159. https://doi.org/10.1177/0952695116684314
  • Dubosclard, A. « Le cinéma, passeur culturel, agent d’influence de la diplomatie française aux États-Unis dans l’entre-deux-guerres ».  Mille huit cent quatre-vingt-quinze, 42 2004, mis en ligne le 10 janvier 2008, URL : http://journals.openedition.org/1895/279
  • Finn, G. (1991). “Racism, Religion and Social Prejudice: Irish Catholic Clubs, Soccer and Scottish Identity - Social Identity and Conspiracy Theories” in International Journal of the History of Sport, Vol. 8 No. 3.
  • Hall S. (2018) “Popular Culture, Politics and History,” Cultural Studies, 32:6, 929-952. Routledge.
  • Orwell, G. (December 1945). “The Sporting Spirit”, Tribune. London, UK.
  • Rubin, Jennifer, “Why Popular Culture matters in Politics”, The Washington Post, October 28, 20

Places

  • Université de La Rochelle
    La Rochelle, France (17)

Date(s)

  • Friday, October 01, 2021

Keywords

  • culture populaire, politique, communication politique

Contact(s)

  • Danièle André
    courriel : daniele [dot] andre [dot] univ [dot] larochelle [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Annabel AUDUREAU
    courriel : annabel [dot] audureau [at] univ-lr [dot] fr
  • Frank HEALY
    courriel : frank [dot] healy [at] univ-lr [dot] fr

Information source

  • Danièle André
    courriel : daniele [dot] andre [dot] univ [dot] larochelle [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Politics and Popular Cultures », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, July 22, 2021, https://calenda.org/899933

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