Contemporary Soldiering, Self Representation and Popular Culture - editorial by @warandmedia and @reticentK

The journal Media, War & Conflict is about to publish a new special issue on the theme 'Contemporary Soldiering, Self Representation and Popular Culture' edited by Sarah Maltby (Sussex) and Katy Parry (Leeds). The editors have penned an introduction that is available to read now. Their editorial is below, and to get a sneak preview of the special issue papers' abstracts click here.

Media, War and Conflict Special Issue: April 2016

Sarah Maltby, School of Media, Film and Music. University of Sussex
Katy Parry, School of Media and Communication. University of Leeds

Editorial Introduction:

The ideas behind this Special Issue initially came together as a panel at the 2014 International Communication Association annual conference in Seattle, USA. Originally comprised of papers from Maria Hellman and Charlotte Wagnsson, Lisa Silvestri, Katy Parry and Nancy Thumim, along with a film directed by Sarah Maltby, our panel’s focus was very much on the lived experiences of military personnel as articulated and understood across a diverse range of media forms and genres. We then extended our invitation for this issue to bring together further scholarship which embodies a shared interest in the performance of soldiering, the vernacular and genre in an attempt to scrutinize and uncover the political and affective work of such forms in varied historical and geographic contexts. Such work remains crucial to investigating how war and violence are legitimized and remembered.

In our compiling of the selected papers we intentionally focus on a range of media forms to avoid a one-medium bias. Decidedly then, we have included genres other than journalism (cinema, social media, photography, memoirs, exhibitions, NGO materials), all with an emphasis on soldier-produced texts or on media forms that claim to represent fighting forces and veterans. This is not to suggest a diminished role for journalism but, rather to emphasise that ‘media’ should not routinely refer to ‘news media’. In so doing, we aim to draw attention to the role of popular culture and new intermediaries in representing, mediating and embodying the soldiering experience so as to offer fresh insights that move beyond ‘combat’ to also include the ways that friendship, kinship, hardship and identity formation become realised through media practices. In this sense, the contributions contained here can be situated within the perceptible scholarly turn towards more experiential, personalized and popular mediations of war for example, feminist international relations (Enloe, 2010, Sylvester, 2012), geography (Woodward and Jenkings, 2012), politics (Kelly, 2013), literature (Coker, 2014) and sociology (King, 2010). The field of media and communications is well placed to contribute advanced perspectives and sensibilities to these debates, not least because we pose questions that tease out what ‘media’ actually represents as an object of study in contemporary public culture. Notwithstanding the continuing pervasiveness of traditional media institutions, information about war and its protagonists is created and accessed through varied devices, platforms and networks, which, rather than simply negating the ideologies of mass media, are embedded with their own ideologies (through their very claims of ‘direct’ communication and disruptions to gatekeeping practices, for instance). This means it is more important than ever to pay attention to the processes of mediation and the variations between different media genres and formats in the study of war and conflict. CONTINUE READING