Voice & Matter – Glocal Conference on Communication for Development took place at Roskilde University and Malmö University on 17–20 September 2014. Around 120 people, from more than 30 different countries, visited the conference every day. Add to that the around 100 people per day who followed the conference online.
Two of the conference participants on-site were Alejandro Barranquero, Associate Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and Sergio Villanueva Baselga, PhD Candidate at Universitat de Barcelona.
“This is my first time in Roskilde! I’ve wanted to come for a long time, last year, the previous year … I’m very glad to be here! The Ørecomm festival is highly valued in the field of communication for development, and being here is very useful for us,” says Alejandro.
“I’m looking very much forward to the participatory video workshops,” says Sergio, and continues: “I’m presenting on the subject during the conference, so attending both of the workshops was an easy choice to make.”
For examples of the collaborative work produced in the participatory video workshop that took place in Malmö, look here.
Andrea Cornwall’s opening speech on “Reframing Development: From Assistance to Global Justice” set a perfect tone for the remainder of the conference. In the conference evaluation it was clear that her speech, alongside the Politics of Hope panel, featuring a special interview with Arjun Appadurai, stood out for many of the participants.
“Andrea brought up a really good example in the ill prepared film producer who completely managed to misinterpret the reality of a group of Indian sexworkers. She brought up some very important voices and reminded us, a big crowd, most of us from the global north, about the importance of reflecting on the things we do,” says Thomas Tufte, professor at Roskilde University and co-director of Ørecomm.
The much appreciated panel “Voice: The Return of the Politics of Hope?” was based on an interview with Arjun Appadurai, made by Ronald Stade, professor at Malmö University. With speakers such as Sheela Patel from Slum Dwellers International – the largest urban slum dweller movement in the world, nominated for the Nobel Peace Price in 2014; and the prolific and engaging anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen, the panel attracted a big crowd.
“I think the panel was successful for two reasons: first and foremost, because of the panellists, whose contributions were pertinent and original; secondly, because the topic is timely yet, in a sense, timeless. Poverty, powerlessness and self-empowerment can be studied from the point of view of a humanist, structuralist, activist etc. What seems to remain constant in all this is the human capacity for hope. Maybe this can inspire us to continue the conversation,” explains Ronald Stade.
Marjan Besuijen from Making All Voices Count, South Africa, was invited to speak in the policy panel on “The Role of Media and Communication in the Post 2015 Agenda.”
Have you enjoyed the conference so far? “I’m usually not a big fan of conferences. But what I like with this one is, let me put it this way – I have been to conferences that claim to be a mixture of practitioners and academics, but in the end they tend to be completely academic! Here I actually think there was a mix, with very practical sessions like the pitching session I went to. So that was nice!”
What is your main concern about the post millennium development goals? “These goals are only part of a bigger puzzle, but what I do find is that the previous ones actually became much more important than we thought. A lot of people thought they weren’t good enough, but in the end a lot of people actually worked for them and around them. It’s in the middle of the process now and it might actually be quite important! I find it very difficult to influence though, but it’s also because we are not an advocacy organisation.”
What would you like to see on the agenda? “Our main aim is to get good governance, transparency and accountability on the agenda. I would also like to see a framework that makes it possible to work on a national level, so that activists and civil society feel that they have the support of the international framework, something that gives them a hook so that they can hold their governments accountable – you agreed to this framework, now put it into practice in our own context.”
For more about the future of media and communication in the post 2015 agenda, watch the recorded stream here.
Another stand out session was the film screening of “The Stuart Hall Project” (2013) by John Akomfrah, followed by a stimulating, intellectual conversation between Baroness Lola Young and Faye Ginsburg. Tuning in to the much loved voice of cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who past away earlier this year, accompanied by the music of Miles Davis, the subject of voice was actualized in a very concrete way, and offered a moving closure to the conference.
Listen to Baroness Lola Young and Faye Ginsburg discussing the work of Stuart Hall here.
For Thomas Tufte one of the most important things about the conference was to see that people were eager to make contact and share experiences.
“People seemed to be having a good time, and most importantly – there’s been a lot of talking and networking going on; during the coffee breaks, during lunch, at the end of the day. And this for me is one of the most important things, to see that people have a lot to discuss. I’m really happy about that!”
“I like the mixture of participants from all disciplines; students, practitioners, journalists, and the online and offline thing – all the material from the conference is there forever! We can view all these recordings, and there is so much inspiration. I think it will help me with my dissertation!”
Anand Sheombar, ICT Consult and PhD Candidate, Netherlands
“I just started the ComDev master’s programme at Malmö University, and decided to come here in person to see the school and feel that it’s real and not just something I do online. I work in corporate communications, so it’s been very useful for me to meet people here who actually work in the field, and to learn about the actual stuff going on on the ground – I especially liked the talks by Sheela Patel and Stefania Milan.”
Krystle van Hoof, Public Information, World Food Program, Bamako, Mali
“It’s been really nice to see that many of the speakers of the conference are academics who also have work experience from the real world. I think that’s important. I’m also very happy to see that this is an interregional conference! You don’t see that very often!”
Emma Svärdh, ComDev student, Malmö University
“I find myself here in a private civil society capacity, but then I’m always the communications manager for my job, so during every session I try to write something down that I can take back to my work. I found the ethnographic theatre session with Debra Spitulnik Vidali really interesting. She offered a very creative perspective on communication that I really enjoyed.“
Lisa Smyth, Communications Manager, Forest Stewardship Council, Bonn, Germany
Universitat Jaume I in Castellón, Spain, is organizing an international congress under the name #comunicambio on 20–22 May 2015. The congress targets research in communication for social change, and particularly the communicative trends of social movements that have been springing up in recent years. Ørecomm participant Thomas Tufte is one of the many interesting speakers that already have been confirmed for the event.
Online submission of papers is open, and the organizers encourage contributions that address the following topics:
Communication and social change: epistemologies and indicators
From victims to indignants: discourses, representations and empowerment
Journalism, media and social change
Commercial communication, organizations and social change
Social mobilization and emotions
Cyberactivism, social change and social movements
Education, civil society and social change
Transmedia narratives, artivism and social change
Papers should be submitted in Spanish or English, no later than 12 October 2014.
We are busily preparing for the conference, and are looking forward to counting registrations on Monday. Last chance to register is Sunday 7 September 2014. We know that some of you have had problems with the registration form, and we are really sorry about that. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions – we are happy to help you.
During the week we have added another interesting event to the programme – the “GoComm Pitching and Networking Sessions.” They will offer start-ups and other projects with interest in approaching development from new perspectives, to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of development experts. If you are interested in pitching, look here for more information, or visit the Facebook event page.
If you are attending the conference, we recommend taking a look at the venue and travel pages on the website. They offer practical advice on for example how to find the way to the venues.
With only 3 weeks to go we are starting the countdown – 17 to 20 September will be interesting days! Don’t forget to registerbefore 7 September 2014.
More information about the participatory video workshops is now available on the website. Don’t miss a great opportunity to learn more about the use of participatory video in international development. Read more about the workshops and how to sign up for them here.
We are also happy to announce that Marcin de Kaminski, Policy Specialist for Freedom of Expression/ICT at Sida, Sweden, will join our policy panel on “The Role of Media and Communication in the Post 2015 Agenda”.
We are also especially happy to see our film-screenings come into place, and to be collaborating with Folkets Bio and Doc Lounge Malmö this year again. The screenings of Gringo Trails (2013) by Pegi Vail and The Stuart Hall Project (2013) by John Akomfrah, will be free and open also to non-participants of the conference. Don’t hesitate to bring a friend!
Voice & Matter is drawing close – 17 to 20 September will be interesting days. With little more than four weeks to go, as many as 50 speakers from 20 different countries are confirmed.
Almost 30 speakers have been accepted to present papers during the conference, and we are happy to announce that abstracts and bios now are available on the website. Browse through the interesting collection of presentations here.
Latest confirmations include Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Read more about his work and our other keynotes here.
We are continuously posting information about the speakers of Voice & Matter on the conference website. Learn more about who they are here.
We can now confirm that almost 30 speakers have been accepted to present papers during the conference. More information about the speakers will be posted on the conference website during the summer.
We are happy to announce that Andrea Cornwall will be the opening keynote of Voice & Matter. She is Professor of Anthropology and Development in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, and specializes in the anthropology of democracy, citizen participation, participatory research, gender and sexuality.
Latest confirmations also include Linje Manyozo, who will be one of the speakers of the panel “ICT4D and Citizen Engagement.” Linje is a Lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has taught development communication in South Africa and Malawi, where in 2005, he successfully introduced Africa’s first ever undergraduate degree programme in development communication.
“Amidst what may be described as a flurry of activity, Issue No. 20 of Glocal Times once again engages with communication for development from a threefold perspective: as a field of study, as professional practice and as an institutional project,” says Florencia Enghel when she presents the new issue.
Read her introduction to the new number below, or visit www.glocaltimes.se for the full issue.
“Nine months have passed since the publication of Issue No. 19 of Glocal Times, and in the meantime there has been plenty of activity within the field. (more…)
We are really happy about this year’s diverse programme, offering a mixture of academic content, practitioner-oriented debate, film-screenings and workshops. We hope that you will find it interesting as well!
New speakers and events are continuously being added. The latest confirmations include Sheela Patel (IN) from SPARC and Slum Dwellers International, and Baroness Lola Young (UK), Independent Member of the House of Lords and known for her commitment to the Arts, Culture and Social Justice.
We are also very happy to announce that we will be screening The Stuart Hall Project (2013) by John Akomfrah, a documentary about the influential work of cultural theorist Stuart Hall.
The programme also includes a special video appearance by anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, who was interviewed by Ronald Stade for the Friday panel “Voice: The Return of the Politics of Hope”.
Registration is open here! Seats are limited, so don’t wait too long to sign up. Registration closes August 31 2014.