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CFP: Media Culture of the (Inter/Anti)Imperial Pacific – DUE APRIL 30

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

The Media Fields Editorial Collective at the UC Santa Barbara Department of Film & Media Studies is currently accepting submissions for Media Fields Issue 15, “Media Cultures of the (Inter/Anti)Imperial Pacific,” co-edited by Xiuhe Zhang and Tyler Morgenstern. Submissions are now due April 30, 2019. Full CFP and submission details are below, and can also be found online at

Recent controversies—from protracted battles over international tariff structures to renewed nuclear sabre rattling between the United States and North Korea, and from the brutalities of offshore migrant detention in places like Nauru to the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea—have thrust the Pacific theater to the forefront of global geopolitical attention. But while these disputes often appear in the guise of crisis, as urgent, largely unanticipated outbreaks of acrimony, they are in many ways historically implicated. As Kornel Chang writes, the Pacific has long been a deeply vexed geopolitical and cultural domain, a vast theater of “interimperial” encounter striated by the violences of colonial settlement, neocolonial retrenchment, capitalist exploitation, racial domination, and military conquest. But if these are political and cultural histories, they are at the same time media histories. Indeed, since at least the mid-19th century, media and communication technologies have played a central role both in the consolidation of imperial ambitions across the Pacific, as well as in the manifold ways these ambitions have been sabotaged, undermined, and refused. Seeking to thematize these complex and ongoing histories, issue 15 of Media Fields Journal will explore the media cultures of the (inter/anti) imperial Pacific.

In recent years, scholars of media and technology have turned often toward the Pacific, showing how the region’s overlapping histories of colonization and imperial expansion have fundamentally shaped global communication infrastructures, and vice versa. Nicole Starosielski, for instance, has shown the remarkable degree to which contemporary undersea cable networks, particularly those that connect the west coast of North America with the Asia Pacific, retrace nineteenth- and twentieth-century colonial trading routes, transposing the lineaments of territorial empire into a fiber optic register. Ruth Oldenziel, similarly, has read the Pacific as a techno-imperial palimpsest, uncovering the surprising geographic and logistical continuities between colonial coaling stations, early electric telegraph networks, and the shortwave communications infrastructures that proliferated across the Pacific in the Cold War years. Dwayne Winseck and Robert Pike, finally, have reconstructed in painstaking detail the emergence of coherent communications markets in and around the Asia Pacific after about 1860—a project that played out through a baffling choreography of interimperial negotiation and corporate shell gaming.

In the hopes of extending these important contributions in new directions, we seek original scholarship that explores how media have functioned as tools of imperial governance in the Pacific since the 19th Century, as well as their involvement in struggles for otherwise Pacific worlds and decolonial futures. To this end, we invite contributions that bring media history, theory and analysis into sustained conversation with such fields as Native American and Indigenous studies, postcolonial theory, critical race and ethnic studies, island and ocean studies, and archipelagic American studies (see Roberts & Stephens, 2017). However, we encourage submissions from all those whose work explores the richness and vitality of Pacific media cultures—whether historical, contemporary, or emergent—through the lenses of imperiality, coloniality, and/or decolonization. Moreover, even as we acknowledge the abiding hegemony of the United States across much of the Pacific theater, we strongly encourage submissions that provincialize US- and Anglo-centric perspectives, and approach the question of Pacific imperiality from alternative national and/or geopolitical contexts.

Potential topics for papers include but are not limited to: ●      Indigenous media theory, history, and critique ●      Comparative and differential Indigeneities ●      The technopolitics of imperial administration ●      Activist media: anti-imperialism, decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty ●      The aesthetic and representational politics of (de)colonization ●      Piracy, hacking, and sabotage ●      Trauma, memory, and the archive ●      Oceanic media infrastructures ●      Colonial and imperial nostalgia ●      South-South/East-East solidarities ●      Critical political economy: tariffs, trade, intellectual property, informality ●      Gender, sexuality, and desire ●      Past futures: Bandung, the Non-Aligned Movement, Nuclear Non-Proliferation ●      Environmental disruption and resource extraction (seafloor dredging, artificial island construction, mining, dumping, pollution, sea level rise) ●      Media policy and regulation in/of colonial states ●      Media, technology, and discourses of development ●      (Mili)tourism ●      Techno-orientalism ●      (Revisiting) the cultural imperialism thesis ●      Analytics of migration and settlement: the settler, the ‘coolie,’ the arrivant, the ‘free laborer,’ the indentured, etc. ●      Asian settler colonialism (see Okamura & Fujikane, 2008; Saranillio, 2013) ●      Empire and/as media distribution ●      Media and scalarity: locality, regionality, nationality, globality, and the hemispheric

For any inquiries, please contact issue co-editors Tyler Morgenstern ( and Xiuhe Zhang ( Submissions should be approximately 1500–2500 words, and should include at least one image or audio or video clip related to the essay topic. Email submissions to For more information and complete submission guidelines, please visit

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