CfP: Freedom and Control of Expression in the Digital Aftermath of the 2015 Paris Attacks

This looks great! One of those things too far outside my area to contribute to but I’d love to attend, if only there were unlimited time and travel budget in my life:

Freedom and Control of Expression in the Digital Aftermath of the 2015 Paris Attacks,
Workshop in Toulouse, France, October 13 & 14 2016 (website)

Call for papers
After the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices were attacked in January 2015, debate
and discussion flourished about freedom of expression, in France and
abroad. This debate intensified after the Paris attacks of November
13th. At the epicenter is the role of the Internet and free speech. An
enormous wave of worldwide indignation expressed itself after both
events, including a deluge of hashtag solidarity. But this social media
storm eventually revealed cultural, political and social divides inside
France, as well as globally. Much like after the 9/11 attacks, France
passed laws allowing state surveillance of online communication. At the
same time, social media censored posts about the attacks that were
considered to be provocative or shocking.

The variety of reactions, including indifference or, on the contrary, the expression of very different points of view – sometimes even surveilled or censored – showed that one hashtag is neither unifying nor a universal view shared by everyone.  This event magnified the notion that the digital public
sphere is a conflicting arena of not just what is being said (or kept
quiet) online but also what the limits are. Undoubtedly, the Internet is
the main means of massive public expression for millions. Yet it is
still the result of a complex set of power relations established between
professional media, amateur content producing communities, which
sometimes defend particular interests, as well as corporate
intermediaries. The resulting online content embodies rival editorial,
political and industrial strategies. Recently, scholars have begun to
question the idea of digital participatory democracy in terms of a level
playing field.

This workshop aims to progress this debate by addressing the following central question:

Who controls freedom of expression and online content in the digital era, and how?

Embedded in this question are the challenges and constraints of expression, such as the tension between a bottom-up or top-down digital public sphere or who is
left out as a digital player. Also central to this question are the role
of three broad actors: the state, market and civil society. Possible
topics for submissions include the following:

– What is the government’s role – from subsidizing digital
participation to censorship and surveillance? What is the role of
political ideology, broadly defined, in freedom of expression? What is
the relationship between media institutions and the state when it comes
to online free speech?

– What is the interplay of market dominance, algorithms, censorship and
Big Data? How are transformations in news production and consumption,
especially in terms of platforms like Facebook, shaping freedom of
expression? How do different types of capitalist economic systems shape
freedom of expression? How do market constraints upon corporate media,
and mainstream journalism shape freedom of expression?

Civil society
– Who is creating content, and if so, who is listening, watching and
clicking? How does race, class, ethnicity and gender factor in? Who is
marginalized?  How effective is Internet use as an extension or part of
activist and social movement practices vis-à-vis political expression.
What is the role of alternative, independent and citizen media in this
digital era of online expression?

Target Audience and Scholars: This is an interdisciplinary workshop but geared toward sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, economists and communication scholars. Scholars at all levels are encouraged to participate. A small number of travel grants may be available to permit outstanding junior
scholars (under 35 years at the date of the conference) to attend.
Please state in your paper submission whether you wish to apply for such
a travel grant.

Dates: October 13 & 14, 2016

Format: The workshop will feature speakers, panels and paper presentations.

Full paper submissions based on empirical research of conference topics
(maximum 25 pages including references and tables/figures) due by
Friday, April 1. Theoretical papers will also be considered.

Please submit papers to We will notify you of acceptance by May 6. You will have to create an account in Easychair in order to submit.

Registration: Register for the conference by September 15. Space is limited. Registration information coming soon.

Cost: Free

Location: Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse, France.

Organizers: Jen Schradie (IAST), Sandra Vera Zambrano (Sciences Po Toulouse – LASSP), Nikos Smyrnaios (University of Toulouse – LERASS).