IAMCR 2012 - Communication and HIV/AIDS and Health Communication and Change Working Groups Call for Papers

erythrina_caffraThe Communication and HIV/AIDS Working Group and the Health, Communication and Change Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) welcome the submission of papers for the 2012 Conference to be held in Durban, South Africa from July 15-19, 2012 at the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

The theme of the conference, ‘South-North Conversations’, reflects the inherent asymmetries in communication flows between the developed and the developing nations.

Wider understandings of ‘developed- developing- underdeveloped’ countries in transition as well as the ‘core-periphery’ are changing. It can be evidenced by BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), the ‘African Renaissance’ and the African Union. We cannot, therefore, continue to assume that communication and media – seen in terms of value and meaning systems, historical trajectories, monetary and technological transfers – can continue to be seen as they have been in the past.

Yet the reality of disparity and inequalities persist, and these need to be situated and evaluated. South-North Conversations asks us to engage with disparities and inequalities in conversation – as partners, with peer-to-peer equality, in a more optimistic vision of global engagement. We hope to not only focus on topics close to the concerns of the host nation, South Africa, but also to a range of regional interests across the globe. Some of the sub-themes include:

  • Uneven access to technological, political and social capital;
  • Asymmetrical news and information flows;
  • The un-dead spectre of cultural imperialism;
  • Media & social media, social challenge and advocacy;
  • Communication as a tool of empowerment of the marginalised and the stigmatized;
  • Dependency on uneven donor-recipient relationships;
  • Lack of indigenous theory formation.

HIV/AIDS has been in existence around the world for over 25 years, and illnesses with a longer history continue to pose challenges across the socio-economic and medical spectrum. The greatest effects of the epidemic are felt predominantly by the most marginalized sectors of society, in developed and developing countries. This takes place in the context of increasing polarizations between the very rich and the very poor, increasing processes of exclusion and marginalization. This remains true for other health conditions, as these social processes are produced and reproduced across a range of health conditions. This includes unequal and value-laden communication flows between centres and peripheries, with political and socio-economic contexts and histories playing a role in how communication is perceived and used to address the problems. As such, anomalies and inequalities exist in the flow of knowledge between ‘North-South’ and centre-periphery within and between societies.

Call for Papers

The working groups wish to invite papers that engage with these dynamics in relation to HIV/AIDS and broader health conditions and concerns. We are interested in both theoretical and practice-based work that reflect upon health, including HIV/AIDS, in communication practice. In the context of this year’s conference theme, we are interested in issues related to health and/or HIV/AIDS and dynamics of inequalities and difference: How does communication intersect with HIV/AIDS, health and social change in the context of cores and peripheries. How can dialogue about HIV/AIDS, health and social change processes take place within the context of South-North relations? How have communication processes between the South and North been affected and changed by the epidemic and the changing nature of health and dis/ease? Where have spaces of communication about health and/or HIV/AIDS been created? What are their dimensions and textures? What are the uses of and intersections with alternative media and health and/or HIV/AIDS? What about health conditions, and the role of media and communication in constructing health discourses?

In addition to conference-specific themes, we will continue to encourage papers that engage with critical, dynamic reflection on communication research and practice, addressing the multiple dimensions of health, HIV/AIDS, communication and change, from multiple disciplinary perspectives. We encourage papers that enhance understandings of the role of media and communication in general about health, illness and disease, and the contexts in which diverse audiences engage with, negotiate, accept and/or resist these. This may include, for example, communication policy, implications of cultural contexts for communication, the influence of biomedical interventions on communication practice, campaign fatigue, governance and accountability, communication and the construction of illness and the gendered nature of the health and HIV/AIDS. Please consider the implications of your paper for communication theory and/or practice.

We are particularly interested in papers that present innovative approaches to HIV/AIDS and/or communication theory and practice, and take a critical approach to communication, exploring the interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional nature of the epidemic. As such, we hope to see more studies that move beyond traditional health communication models, and reflect upon the diversity of approaches to communication, including, for instance, social change communication, citizen/alternative/radical media approaches, participatory communication, advocacy communication, folk media and other cultural approaches.

Both individual abstracts and panel proposals are encouraged. The sessions of the working groups will be organized to suit emerging themes from submitted abstracts.

Logistics & Deadlines

It is expected that for the most part, only one (1) abstract will be submitted per person for consideration by the Conference. The working groups will consider no more than two abstracts per presenter. However, under no circumstances should there be more than three (3) abstracts bearing the name of the same applicant either individually or as part of any group of authors. Please note also that the same abstract or another version with minor variations in title or content must not be submitted to other Sections or Working Groups of the Association for consideration, after an initial submission. Such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be automatically rejected by the Open Conference System, by the relevant Head or by the Conference Programme Referee. Such applicants risk being removed entirely from the conference programme.

Upon submission of an abstract, you will be asked to confirm that your submission is original and that it has not been previously published in the form presented. You will also be given an opportunity to declare if your submission is currently before another conference for consideration.

Abstracts or panel proposals should include: the name(s) of author(s) and professional title(s); institutional affiliation; and e-mail address/contact information. Due to scheduling considerations, a limited number of panels will be accepted.

The deadline for submission of abstracts (between 300 and 500 words in length) is February 14, 2012. You will be informed whether or not your abstract is accepted by March 12, 2012. The deadline for full conference papers is June 10, 2012.

Abstract Submission

All abstract submissions must be made centrally via the Open Conference System (OCS). There are to be no email submissions of abstracts addressed to any Section or Working Group Head.

If you have trouble with the online submission process or questions related to this call for papers, please contact the co-chairs of the working group.

Please CC the co-chairs of the Communication and HIV/AIDS Working Group and the Health, Communication and Change Working Group:

Sarah Cardey:   s.p.cardey [at] reading.ac.uk
Ravindra Kumar Vemula:      ravindrakumar [at] efluniversity.ac.in
Nanna Engebretsen: nanna.engebretsen [at] hil.no
Marjan De Bruin: marjan.debruin [at] uwimona.edu.jm
Kate Holland: kate.holland [at] canberra.edu.au

Please note that if your abstract is accepted, you may be called upon to facilitate or moderate one of the working group sessions.

The Working Group will be cooperating with Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, in producing a theme issue arising out of the conference deliberations.

Papers presented at the conference will be considered for this issue but must be written as journal articles in the required style.

The issue is scheduled for 2012/5 (November). Selection will be done by the guest editors (Sarah Cardey et al.) at the conference and production will commence on 1. August. Critical Arts is ISI and IBSS listed, amongst other indexes.

For further information see:


This issue of Critical Arts is being is being sponsored by USAID/PEPFAR through Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa an affiliate of the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Centre for Communications Programs.

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