This May, the Reel Politics conference, hosted by the University of Guelph Department of Philosophy, will meet online as a forum to explore a range of topics pertaining to film and radical politics. Participants will have the opportunity to present philosophical responses to film as an important site of experiencing and reasoning about political culture, particularly as they relate to immediate justice movements and crises, such as anthropogenic climate change, BLM, and COVID-19.
Film and filmmakers have been instrumental in articulating radical political discourses since the early 20th century. As a tool of representing revolutionary struggles, as a form of activism, or as a means of critique, film is a medium of political praxis which presents diverse images of potential worlds, be they cautionary or aspirational. Reel Politics asks how film can function to galvanize forms of resistance and to build solidarity in audiences by contextualizing important political moments and by making them real.
But we must take care – film is of course not always radically oriented and may often be used contra both radicalism and solidarity. Film, while a means of realizing important progressive or radical political goals, also has a powerful capacity to reinforce the politics of exploitation, hierarchy, and injustice.
Historically, film has functioned more frequently as a tool for oppressive propaganda than as a means of liberation, and its capacity for positive change is often contradicted by the circumstances of its production in political economy – the prominence of The Birth of a Nation relative to that of Salt of the Earth, for example, speaks to this predicament. In the hands of reactionary forces or agents of anti-progressive ideas, film quite readily becomes a celebration of ideologies of domination and violence.
Reel Politics will provide a platform for critiquing the oppressive uses of film, and for exploring its potential as a means of envisioning a more radical and revolutionary political theory.
Participants are encouraged to submit an abstract of 300-500 words outlining a presentation of 20-25 minutes. Topics for consideration may include, but are not limited to, the study of film as related to:
- Affect, Politics, and Resistance
- Solidarity Theory
- Documentary or Journalistic Film as a Form of Activism
- Settler Colonialism and Decoloniality
- Critical Race Theory
- Disability and Sound Studies
- Film as Critique of Carceral Politics
- Labour Relations
- Cameras: Tools of Resistance, Tools of Domination
- Critical Animal Studies and Posthumanism
- Mad Studies
- The Limits of Film as Praxis
- Fascism & Image, Reactionary Film & Challenges to the Radical
To submit an abstract, please email Nour Abu Husan, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a Word document or PDF