[Reader-list] Call for Contributions to Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media

Monica Narula monica at sarai.net
Mon Aug 11 16:09:13 IST 2003

Call for Contributions to Sarai Reader 04 :  Crisis/Media

(apologies for cross posting to subscribers of Sarai Reader List, 
Nettime, FibreCulture, BytesforAll  & Commons-Law)

I. Introducing the Sarai Reader

Sarai, (www.sarai.net) an interdisciplinary research and practice 
programme on the city and the media, at the Centre for the Study of 
Developing Societies invites contributions (texts and images) to 
Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media

We also invite proposals to initiate and moderate discussions on the 
themes of the Sarai Reader 04 on the Reader List 
(http://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/reader-list) with a view to 
the moderator(s) editing the transcripts of these discussions for 
publication in the Sarai Reader 04.

For an outline of the themes and concerns of Sarai Reader 04, see 
concept outline below. To know about the format of the articles that 
we invite, see 'Guidelines for Submissions' below.

The Sarai Reader is an annual publication produced by 
Sarai/CSDS(Delhi). The contents of the Sarai Readers are available 
for free download from the Sarai website (see urls below)

  Previous Readers have included:

'The Public Domain': Sarai Reader 01, 2001

'The Cities of Everyday Life':  Sarai Reader 02, 2002,

And 'Shaping Technologies': Sarai Reader 03, 2003

The Sarai Reader series aims at bringing together original, 
thoughtful, critical, reflective, well researched and provocative 
texts and essays by theorists, practitioners and activists, grouped 
under a core theme that expresses the interests of the Sarai in 
issues that relate media, information and society in the contemporary 
world. The Sarai Readers have a wide international readership.

Sarai Reader 04 will be partly based on the presentations made at a 
workshop jointly organized by Sarai - CSDS and the Waag Society - 
"Crisis/Media: The Uncertain States of Reportage". The workshop was 
held at Sarai-CSDS, Delhi in March 2003.
For more details of the contents of this workshop, see

Editorial Collective for Sarai Reader 04: Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi 
Sundaram, Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta 
(Sarai, Delhi) and Geert Lovink  (Media Theorist & Internet Critic, 

II. Crisis/Media: Concepts & Themes

  From the very beginning of this century we have hurtled on as if 
from crisis to crisis. As if all the ghosts of the 19th and the 20th 
centuries, decades of war, colonial plunder, totalitarian repression 
and the hardening of sectarian animosity had suddenly decided to come 
home to roost in a frenzied attempt at revisiting on the present all 
the accumulated tragedies of the past that we had thought we had left 
behind us as we gingerly made our way into our times.

The images of planes crashing into skyscrapers, of entire cities 
being bombed into submission from the air, of occupying armies and 
fleeing civilians, of suicide bombers, ethnic cleansing and riot 
police assaulting unarmed demonstrators have branded themselves on to 
our consciousness with mounting frequency. These are the substance of 
the meditations of all our mornings, as we pick up the day's 
newspaper, switch on the radio in the kitchen, or the television in 
the living room, or log on to the internet, We have witnessed flash 
floods, epidemics, economic collapse, mass migrations and an 
intensification of the regimes of surveillance and control on a near 
global scale. Our newspapers, our television sets, our radios, our 
websites and our minds have become prisoners of war, and there seems 
to be no sign of a ceasefire in sight, at least as of now.

The world we live in has also witnessed an enormous increase in the 
scale and complexity of communicative possibilities. An explosion of 
the means of delivering news, comment and images at rapid speed over 
diverse media has meant dispersal as well as amplification of the 
dynamics of any event or process, anywhere in the world. Satellite 
communications, a new telecom revolution, cheap electronic devices, 
computers and the Internet ensure that no moment goes un-reported. 
There is no moment that is not potentially global anymore.
These are times for sober reflection, and that, precisely, is what we 
often find missing, as we open the newspaper, listen to the radio, or 
television. Yet, a variety of different, dissident, passionate and 
sane voices are also making themselves heard, through combinations of 
new and old media, as never before. The 'Paid For' news of the 
mainstream media is often exposed for what it is, even before it 
appears, by an increasingly vigilant network of independent 
local-global media initiatives. The numbers that turn out on the 
streets of the world's major capitals to protest against war seem to 
suggest that despite huge propaganda efforts, 'the spin' isn't 
working, at least not all of the time. We live, as the Chinese curse 
has it, in 'interesting times'.

This accumulation of situations of crisis in the first three years of 
our century, and their rapid, almost real time dissemination in the 
media, have no doubt precipitated new opportunities for communicative 
action and global reflection, just as they have signalled an onset of 
a severe crisis within the media - a crisis of over-stimulation and 
under-statement, of exaggeration and exhaustion, of censorship and 
spin-doctoring, of fear and favour. More than at any other time 
before, the power and reach of the media, the potential of the usage 
of technologies of information and communication for control or for 
freedom, and the several intertwined professional, cognitive and 
ethical dilemmas that media practitioners face on a daily basis. All 
these require us to pause and take stock of the fact that the crises 
reported in the media have a bearing on the crisis of reporting in 
the media - That the media and the crisis that media require to be 
themselves today can no longer be seen as distinct categories, hence 

We are interested in recognizing the fact that media today are 
located precisely along the intersections and fault lines that 
connect and divide representations (media events and processes) and 
structural problems. The Reader aims to excavate the relationships 
between these structures and the representations that accompany them. 
Crisis Media respond as much to wars and ongoing ethnic conflicts as 
they do to environmental crises or the AIDS epidemic and the SARS 
panic. Given this situation, how can Crisis/Media go beyond their 
historically framed task of 'correcting' mainstream opinions and 
actually experiment with other narratives? How can the global rise of 
mobile devices be utilized to 'receive, transmit and broadcast' 
peoples' stories as they occur, and by doing so, break the separation 
between reporters and the reported?

Further, is it possible for us to begin to debate and problematize 
the whole notion of 'representation' itself, positing more immediate 
forms of testimony that resist mediatization? These are open 
questions, with no satisfactory and coherent answers, but Sarai 
Reader 04 would like to take them on, so as to map new territories of 
thought about media practice.

A Preliminary List of Themes (these are not chapter or section 
headings, but point to areas of interest) could include:

The Political Economy of Contemporary Media Forms
Media Wars and Media in times of War: Weapons of Mass Distraction?
Taking Sides and Speaking Truth: The Reportage of Ethnic Conflict and 
Civil Unrest
Surveillance, Intelligence, Reportage: The Journalist and the Informer
Brand Disloyalty: Critiques and Analyses of Immaterial Capital in the 
Information Age
Aliens and Others: Media and Migration
Reporting the Crises of Everyday Life
Re imagining Tactical Media
Evaluating Independent Media Strategies in the time of Globalization
Mobile Maverick Media: the Technology and Politics of Dispersed and
Mobile Media Forms
Viral Media
Communicable Diseases: Epidemics as Information
The Body as Data
Crises of Representation: Ethics, Epistemics, Aesthetics
The Space for Free Speech

Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media, seeks to engage with this situation by 
inviting a series of reflections by media practitioners (journalists, 
independent media activists, filmmakers, photographers, artists, 
commentators and editors) and thinkers, writers, scholars, activists 
and critics.

We are looking for incisive analysis, as well as passionate writing, 
for scholarly and theoretical rigour as well as for critical and 
imaginative depth. We invite essays, reportage, diaries and memoirs, 
entries from weblogs, edited compilations of online discussions, 
photo essays, image-text collages and interpretations of found visual 

We are interested in testimonies from all theatres of global conflict 
- be they New York, London, Baghdad or Kabul, in reports from 
continuing crisis situations - in Kinshasa, Ahmedabad, Ramallah, and 
in essays and reflections that address the world from Delhi, 
Belgrade, Karachi, Beijing, Buenos Aires and Tehran.

We are interested in anything from anywhere at all that makes for 
intelligent, provocative and critical encounters with the world we 
all live in. Contributors can also consider the structural, 
technological, rhetorical and aesthetic dimensions of understanding, 
interpreting and expressing aspects of what they see as situations of 
crisis. They can reflect on ecological crises, crisis within social 
institutions and the many unreported and unexamined crises of 
everyday life that be-devil the contemporary moment. Hate speech and 
unreflective testimonies of victim-hood, however, are not welcome.

The Sarai Reader 4, like the previous Sarai Readers, will be 
international in scope and content, while retaining a special 
emphasis on reflection about and from areas that normally lie outside 
the domain of mainstream discourses. We are particularly interested 
in cutting edge writing and contributions from South Asia, South and 
Central America, South East Asia, China, Tibet and Taiwan, Korea, 
Singapore, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Australia. This is not an 
expression of a 'regional' or 'third world' bias; rather it is an 
affirmation of the fact that some of the most exciting emergent 
voices are located in these regions. We of course welcome innovative 
and critical contributions from Europe, North America and Japan. We 
are especially keen to shape the Reader in response to events such as 
the Next Five Minutes 4 Conference, and hope that some of the ideas 
that get generated in such events can find their way into the debates 
that the Reader hopes to embody.

If you feel these issues and questions are of interest to you. If 
your practice, thought, curiosities, research or creative activity 
has impelled you to think about some of these issues, we invite you 
to contribute to Sarai Reader 04: Crisis/Media.

III. Guidelines for Submissions

Word Limit: 1500 - 4000 words

1.Submissions may be scholarly, journalistic, or literary - or a mix 
of these, in the form of essays, papers, interviews, online 
discussions ordinary entries. All submission, unless specifically 
solicited, must be in English only.

2.Submissions must be sent by email in as text, or as rtf, or as word 
document or star office/open office attachments. Articles may be 
accompanied by black and white photographs or drawings submitted in 
the tiff format.

3.We urge all writers, to follow the Chicago Manual of Style, (CMS) 
in terms of footnotes, annotations and references. For more details 
about the CMS and an updated list of Frequently Asked Questions, see 

For a 'Quick Reference Guide to the Chicago Manual of Style' - 
especially relevant for citation style, see -

4.All contributions should be accompanied by a three/four line text 
introducing the author.

5.All submissions will be read by the editorial collective of the 
Sarai Reader 04 before the final selection is made. The editorial 
collective reserves the right not to publish any material sent to it 
for publication in the Sarai Reader on stylistic or editorial 
grounds. All contributors will be informed of the final decisions of 
the editorial collective vis a vis their contribution.

6.Copyright for all accepted contributions will remain with the 
authors, but Sarai reserves indefinitely the right to place any of 
the material accepted for publication on the public domain in print 
or electronic forms, and on the Internet.

7.Accepted submissions will not be paid for, but authors are 
guaranteed a wide international readership. The Reader will be 
published in print, distributed in India and internationally, and 
will also be uploaded in a pdf form on to the Sarai website. All 
contributors whose work has been accepted for publication will 
receive two copies of the Reader.

IV. Where and When to send your Contributions

Last date for submission - December 1st 2003. (But please write as 
soon as possible to the editorial collective with a brief 
outline/abstract, not more than one page, of what you want to write 
about - this helps in designing the content of the reader). We expect 
to have the reader published by mid-February 2004.

Please send in your outlines and abstracts, and images/graphic material to -
1. For articles, to Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Co Ordinator, Sarai Reader 
04 Editorial Collective (shuddha at sarai.net)

2. For proposals to moderate online discussions on the Reader List, 
to Monica Narula, List Administrator, the Reader List 
(monica at sarai.net)

3. For images and/or graphic material, to Monica Narula, Co 
Ordinator, Media Lab (monica at sarai.net)

Monica Narula
Sarai:The New Media Initiative
29 Rajpur Road, Delhi 110 054

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