CFP: Thinking Beyond Backlash: Remediating 1980s Activisms

capture-decran-2016-09-19-a-10-24-41For this proposed special issue of Continuum, the co-editors invite contributions that generate new ways of thinking about social and political activism of the 1980s through the critical lens of “remediation.” In common parlance, the practice of remediation refers to the act of providing a remedy. Cultural memory scholars have extended this definition to refer to the transcription of “memory matter”—that is, the images and narratives of the past—across different media (Erll 2011, 141; Erll and Rigney 2009). Similarly, new media scholar Leah Lievrouw (2011) expands on Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s (1999) definition of remediation as the representation of one medium in another. For Lievrouw, remediation describes a transformative media practice; a process that “borrows, modifies, samples, and remixes existing content, forms and expressions to create new works, relationships, interactions and meanings” (2011, 219). To examine activist media practices through the lens of remediation means emphasizing people’s reconfiguration of media technologies to advance social justice agendas. As an approach to social movement histories, remediation is political work.

In returning to the recent past of the 1980s, this special issue turns attention to a decade that has hitherto been neglected within many social movement histories, in ways that arguably elide particular kinds of events and bodies. The 1980s have been identified as a fallow period within many social movement histories, or even a decade marked by an intensified “backlash” against these movements (Faludi 1991; Gamson 1995, 393; Hughey 2013, 722). Often, the 1980s are dismissed as an era marked only by increasing conservatism and an intensification of neoliberalism. And yet, those years provided the context for intense queer, feminist, and indigenous and Black civil rights activisms with enduring legacies identifiable in contemporary movements and activist practices.

Contributions to this special issue will thus develop Cultural Studies theorizing on remediation, grounding this work in a social justice framework that recognizes the ways in which looking critically to activist practices, strategies, and artifacts of the “past” can generate new tools for our contemporary moment. In revisiting the activist media, practice and organizing of the 1980s, this special issue not only calls attention to and reinvigorates conversation about this era, but also opens up a larger critical debate on how remediation might challenge the “decadisation” of social movement histories more broadly. In this sense, contributions to the special issue will move productively between the conceptual and the applied, advancing Cultural Studies understandings of remediation, memory, temporality, and social change, and cultivating histories of social activism attentive to the conditions for mobilization in the 1980s.

Submission guidelines:

Interested contributors should submit an abstract (250-300 words) for a proposed article as well as a short biographical note to both guest editors: Samantha C. Thrift ( and Elizabeth Groeneveld (egroenev@odu.edo) by Friday, October 14, 2016.

We project that unpublished full-length academic articles of approximately 6,000 words will be required by April 1, 2017. The anticipated publication date for the Special Issue will be mid-2018.


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