Call for Papers: Media and Conflict Memory workshop, Glasgow, November 2023

Call for Submissions

Media and Conflict Memory: an Interdisciplinary Workshop

University of Glasgow, 22-23 November 2023.

Media are integral to how we both remember and forget conflict.  While individuals refer to the family photo album, the collective memories of communities are often shaped by iconic photographs of traumatic events such as popular uprisings, terrorist attacks, and wars. This memory work was traditionally confined to repositories such as historical archives, museums and institutions. In recent years the ‘connective turn’ has ‘unmoored’ memory from these institutions, replacing traditional notions of collective memory with the searchable ‘memory of the multitude’ online (Hoskins, 2017). The automated systems of online platforms like Facebook ‘dig’ for memories on behalf of their users, including those of (Jacobsen and Beer, 2021). Historical photographs shared on photo sharing sites like Instagram facilitate informal learning about events such as the Holocaust among younger generations (Commane and Potton, 2019). This has empowered a new generation of memory activists who leverage the affordances of online platforms for commemoration rituals (Fridman, 2022). More recently, apps like Telegram have made it easier to document human rights violations during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, whilst simultaneously creating a curated, unsanitized ‘war feed’ for global audiences  (Hoskins and Shchelin, 2023). 

This hybrid workshop seeks to advance the discussion about the role of media in conflict memory work. We adopt a purposefully broad definition of conflict which includes (but is not limited to) armed insurrections, civil disorder, geopolitical interstate conflict, political violence in divided societies, terrorist attacks, and wars. 

We are looking for original and creative contributions that demonstrate the broad range of methodologies (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, digital) in this emergent field. Abstract submissions should explicitly address the role of media (e.g. newspapers, social media, television) in conflict memory. We will accept both theoretical and empirical studies provided they are relevant to the workshop’s key themes.

Possible topics for the workshop include:

  • Conflict memory, media and education
  • Mediatization of war, terrorism, armed conflict and civil disorder
  • Journalistic practice and collective memories of conflict
  • Media and conflict memory in post and neo-authoritarian societies
  • Memory activism after conflict
  • Radio, memory and conflict
  • Social media and conflict memory
  • Television news and audience understanding of conflict

We especially encourage submissions from early career researchers and those based in Global South countries. There will be a limited number of travel bursaries available for those traveling to Glasgow to attend in-person. 

Abstracts of 300-500 words, excluding references, should be sent to and Please indicate on your submission whether you will attend in-person or online, and if you wish to be considered for a travel bursary should your abstract be accepted. There will be no registration fee for participants accepted for the workshop. Workshop participants will be invited to submit an abstract for a co-edited volume based on the workshop.

The deadline for submissions is 17 August 2023.

This event is co-sponsored by the Crisis, Security and Conflict Communication and Communication in Post and Neo-Authoritarian Societies Working Groups of the International Association of Media and Communication Researchers (IAMCR). 

If you have any questions about the workshop please contact the organisers:

Dr. Paul Reilly, University of Glasgow (

Dr. Virpi Salojärvi, University of Vaasa/University of Helsinki  (

Dr. Katja Lehtisaari, Tampere University (

Paper presented at Technology in Movement, Movement in Technology conference

This afternoon (9 May) Suay Özkula and I will be presenting a paper based on our systematic review of digital activism research. This builds on our paper published in Information, Communication & Society last year, which found a preponderance of Twitter studies in digital activism research between 2011 and 2018.

For further information on the study, please feel free to contact us.

The abstract can be read below:

Where exactly is the Global South? Exploring Northern visibilities in digital activism research

The seemingly global nature of hashtag activism makes it difficult to assess what regions are being studied in digital activism research and the extent to which this  scholarship is  subject to ‘digital bias’ (Marres, 2017).  This is of particular concern to scholars who have problematised the dominance of ‘Western’, Global North actors in digital media research whilst also calling for internet research methods to become de-westernised, internationalised, or decolonised (e.g. Badr & Ganter, 2021; Bosch, 2022; Milan & Treré, 2019; Karam & Mutsvairo, 2022; Mutsvairo, 2019; Schoon et al., 2020). While some argue that a ‘decolonial turn’ in digital media research is belatedly occurring (Couldry and Mejia, 2021), questions remain about whether similar trends are evident  in digital activism research. 

In response to this issue, this paper explores geographic representation in digital activism research. The corpus for the systematic review was created by running queries spanning 21 relevant keywords describing digitally enabled activism on the Scopus database. The final corpus consisted of 315 articles published between 2011 and 2018, which was tested on a range of attributes including methodological approaches and factors for evaluating regionality with a focus on regionally disadvantaged communities (towards capturing “Global South” and semi-periphery regions), incl.: case study origin and location, author affiliation, regional foci of the publishing journals, and researched digital/ social media platform (as tied to specific user demographics). 

Results indicate that Global North and non-region specific campaigns dominated digital activism research during this period, particularly in articles featuring digital data. As such, extant research in the field has disproportionately produced what we term Northern Visibilities –  privileged demographics & popular platforms of the “Global Majority” (i.e. Global North and privileged economies), above all in research applying software-based approaches. 

The paper concludes by outlining a number of epistemological provocations around the extent to which the methods and methodological instruments researchers choose affect which social groups they capture or potentially omit as demographics may become diffused over multiple spaces and language contexts. Challenges in capturing Global South and semi-periphery communities apply, above all, in computational approaches as these are often based on high visibility as well as the API access options platforms provide. This means that researchers may need to rethink (a) where (e.g. which platform spaces) and how disadvantaged and less visible social groups are represented online, (b) which precise social groups digital social research is meant to capture, (c) gaps in digital activism research, above all in relation to “unheard” groups, as well as (d) what these skewed representations mean for inclusive research practice. 


Badr, H., & Ganter, S. (2021). Towards Cosmopolitan Media and Communication Studies: Bringing Diverse Epistemic Perspectives into the Field. Global Media Journal-German Edition, 11(1).  

Bosch, T. (2022). Decolonizing Digital Methods. Communication Theory, 32(2), 298-302. 

Couldry, N., & Mejias, U. A. (2021). The decolonial turn in data and technology research: what is at stake and where is it heading?. Information, Communication & Society, 1-17. 

Karam, B., & Mutsvairo, B. (2022). Decolonising Political Communication in Africa: Reframing Ontologies (p. 254). Taylor & Francis. 

Marres, N. (2017). Digital sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research. Cambridge: Polity Press.  

Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2019). Big data from the South (s): Beyond data universalism. Television & New Media, 20(4), 319-335. 

Mutsvairo, B. (2019). Challenges facing development of data journalism in non-western societies. Digital Journalism, 7(9), 1289-1294. 

Schoon, A., Mabweazara, H. M., Bosch, T., & Dugmore, H. (2020). Decolonising digital media research methods: Positioning African digital experiences as epistemic sites of knowledge production. African Journalism Studies, 41(4), 1-15. 

Twenty five years of Northern Ireland’s imperfect peace

I am sure I was not the only one to find this scene (from Channel 4 sitcom Derry Girls) to be particularly poignant. This week marks 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. I was a student living in Scotland at the time. My memories of April 1998 primarily revolve around the television coverage of the negotiations at Castle Buildings in Belfast. There are too many to mention here but a few stand out. UK Prime Minister’s (in)famous ‘hand of history’ comment after he earnestly told reporters that this was no time for soundbites. Cameras capturing Brid Rodgers hugging SDLP colleagues in the party’s offices in the early hours of the 10 April, signalling that an Agreement had been reached.  And of course there was the televised plenary session on 10 April when US Senator George Mitchell announced an agreement had been reached. The rectangular table with the leaders of the main political parties sitting side-by-side (each with their own name card, as if we needed reminding who they were). 

The conversation between Erin and Granda Joe captures the optimism and fear of those who voted in the Good Friday Agreement referendum in May 1998. Like many others, I voted via post and my knowledge of the deal was based entirely on information made available to the public via traditional media. There were no ‘hot takes’ on sites like Twitter informing voters about its contents (perhaps a good thing!). Dial-up internet meant that copies of the text could not be circulated freely online. My dad ended up photocopying the entire document and sending it to me in the post (writing on the first page “some light reading for you”, which still makes me laugh when I see it). In the end, it was an easy decision to vote ‘Yes’. The commitment of paramilitaries to abandon their campaigns of political violence in favour of exclusively peaceful means would mean that future generations would not have to experience the trauma and losses of the past.

Fast forward 25 years and the anniversary of the GFA sees Northern Ireland very much at a crossroads. Admittedly ambitious targets to remove all peace walls by 2023 have not been met, albeit they are dwindling slowlyParamilitary-style attacks continue to blight what remains a deeply divided society. The continued threat from violent dissident republican groups was illustrated by the attempted murder of PSNI Detective John Caldwell last month. Democratic dysfunction remains a defining feature of the powersharing institutions created under the Agreement. The consociationalist framework of governance means that either of the two largest political parties have the ability to collapse the institutions when it is politically expedient for them to do so. Most recently, the Democratic Unionist Party has boycotted Stormont in protest at the ‘Irish Sea Border’ created by the UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. Despite claims from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the Windsor Framework will make the region the “world’s most exciting economic zone”, it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to convince the DUP to go back into government. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has argued that the real issue is that they do not want to serve under a nationalist First Minister, a likely scenario given that Sinn Féin are now the largest party in the Assembly.

While it may be imperfect, perhaps even unpalatable for some, these are grounds for optimism. The structures that kept the main communities apart are slowly being dismantled. Research shows an increase in the number of mixed relationships and people who self-identify as neither unionist or nationalist. Activism in areas such as women’s reproductive rights continues to transcend sectarian boundaries. A clear majority of Catholic and Protestant residents living in the vicinity of peace walls want them to come down.  Moreover, there are the number of lives saved due to the end of the conflict. Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams recently argued there are thousands of people alive today because of the GFA.  Now, more than ever, we need political leaders with the bravery of the class of 1998 to protect their hard-won peace.

New article published on how Twitter was used during July 2016 ‘coup’ in Turkey

Semra Demirdis, Stefania Vicari and I have had an article published on how Twitter was used to mobilise hashtag publics during the July 2016 ‘coup’ in Turkey. Based on Serra’s recently completed PhD, we found that the microblogging site was used to promote government propaganda during these events, with frequent calls being made for citizens to protect Turkish democracy or side with the ‘enemies of the nation’. Many thanks to First Monday for publishing this piece and congratulations to Semra on her first publication!

The article can be read here

VIEWdigital post on how to respond to online abuse of politicians

I have written a piece for VIEWdigital on the online abuse experienced by public figures in Northern Ireland. I argue that we need to hold social media users accountable for their actions rather than focus on ending online anonymity. Interventions such as counter-speech campaigns can be effective tools for creating a more civil online discourse.

Many thanks to Brian Pelan and Una Murphy for the opportunity to write about this issue. The piece can be read here.

Please do consider supporting VIEWdigital (print subscriptions cost as little as £40 per year).Further details on how to subscribe can be found here.

VIEWdigital post on how to respond to online abuse

I have written a piece for VIEWdigital on the issue of regulating online hate speech. I argue that the publish then filter model of platforms like Facebook and Twitter is partially responsible for the growth in hate speech online. I discuss how national governments and the EU have used fines in an effort to compel these platforms to remove such harmful content. However, if we want to take online harms more seriously we need to treat online platforms like publishers.

Many thanks to Brian Pelan and Una Murphy for the opportunity to write about this issue. The piece can be read here.

Please do consider supporting VIEWdigital (print subscriptions cost as little as £40 per year).Further details on how to subscribe can be found here.

Update: written evidence to DCMS report on Sustainability of Local journalism

Last year, Una Murphy and I have submitted evidence on behalf of ViewDIGITAL to the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee enquiry on the sustainability of local journalism. The report has was published a few days ago and can be read here. The Public Interest News Foundation response to its recommendations includes a comment from Una and can be read here

In the submission, we discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on independent news outlets such as ViewDIGITAL. Our recommendations include making interest free loans available to local news organisations, and the creation of a public media trust to support the hyperlocal sector in the future. The submission can be viewed here

New chapter out in Research Handbook on Visual Politics

Research Handbook on Visual Politics, published January 2023

I have a chapter in the recently published Research Handbook on Visual Politics (Edward Elgar Publishing). Many thanks to the fantastic editors, Professor Darren Lilleker and Dr. Anastasia Veneti (Bournemouth University) for the invitation and for pulling together such an excellent volume.

My chapter is entitled ‘Watching the Watchers: Sousveillance as a political response to surveillance society’.

The Introduction to the chapter can be read below.

Scholars such as Thompson (2018) have argued that the growth of digital technologies have led to a new era of ‘mediated visibility’ in which virtually every bystander has the means to provide audio-visual evidence of what they have witnessed. This raises important questions about whether mediated witnessing has the potential to destablise power relations within contemporary societies given that the ‘field of vision’ is no longer limited to specific locales. Put simply, elites are more likely have their actions scrutinised in media environments where they are no longer able to control the images of them that circulate online (Thompson, 2005). This chapter explores this visibility through the politics of sousveillance, a form of ‘inverse surveillance’ said to empower citizens to “access and collect data about their surveillance” through the use of information and communication technologies (Mann et al, 2003: 333). This is a concept developed by engineer Steve Mann, who encouraged citizens to wear cameras in order to counteract the pervasive organisational surveillance synonymous with contemporary societies. The rationale for this ‘undersight’ was that the data generated by corporate and police surveillance of private citizens lacked integrity and was “less than the full truth” (Mann 2017:3). Reductive analyses of sousveillance as a panacea to surveillance have gradually been replaced by more contextualised studies recognising their coexistence within contemporary societies. Both have been conceptualised as orthogonal vectors in the Veillance Plane, an eight-point compass showing how levels of oversight and undersight can be altered by the number of people recording footage on their smartphones within physical locations. 

The chapter is structured as follows. First, the concept of sousveillance will be introduced and the Veillance Plane defined. Second, prominent examples of sousveillant practices will be discussed in order to explore the motivations underpinning the use of technology to record the actions of authority figures, the type of imagery being shared, and the impact of such activity. These will include the Black Lives Matter campaign to focus attention on violent police attacks on African-Americans since 2014 (Freelon et al, 2016a) and loyalist protesters use of social media to highlight police brutality in Northern Ireland (Reilly, 2020a; 2021). Both constitute contexts in which public confidence in policing is traditionally low and marginalised citizens are motivated to engage in ‘inverse surveillance’ due to their prior negative interactions with individual police officers. The chapter will consider how audience responses to these acts of sousveillance are influenced by news media coverage of these incidents. It concludes by considering whether sousveillant practices facilitated via social media actually constitute a shift in informational power from elites to marginalised groups. A future research agenda for exploring the communicative power of sousveillance is elucidated.

The book can be purchased online and you can read a preprint of my chapter here.

VIEWdigital post on how to better regulate hate speech on social media

I have written a piece for VIEWdigital on the issue of regulating online hate speech. I argue that the publish then filter model of platforms like Facebook and Twitter is partially responsible for the growth in hate speech online. I discuss how national governments and the EU have used fines in an effort to compel these platforms to remove such harmful content. However, if we want to take online harms more seriously we need to treat online platforms like publishers.

Many thanks to Brian Pelan and Una Murphy for the opportunity to write about this issue. The piece can be read here.

Please do consider supporting VIEWdigital (print subscriptions cost as little as £40 per year).Further details on how to subscribe can be found here.

Parallel Lives essay on social media and divisions in Northern Ireland

Last week I spoke to John Coster about the 10th anniversary of the union flag protests. I have written a short essay on this topic for the Parallel Lives Network, which can be read here, and is reproduced with permission below. Many thanks to John for the invitation.

Social media highlights divisions and need for political leadership in Northern Ireland

This week marks ten years since the union flag protests in Northern Ireland. Like many others, my own memories of the protests and related violence were shaped by the tweets, videos and images that circulated online. These were also the first demonstrations of their kind to be contested on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. 

In my book, I argued that this was a watershed moment in contentious politics within the post-conflict society. While these were shared spaces where critics and supporters could express their views on the protests, online exchanges reinforced divisions between loyalist flag protesters and their critics. The negative stereotyping of loyalists as inbred bigots, concerted efforts to inflame tensions through the sharing of disinformation, and the presence of sectarian hate speech contradicted the claims by online platforms that they were a force for global peace.

A decade later, one might be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu. Anti-Protocol demonstrations feature many of the same protagonists from the flag protests, again expressing grievances about what they perceive as an attack on their identity. Activists like Jamie Bryson are once more using online platforms to articulate their opposition to the ‘Irish Sea Border’, and also the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement itself. This has inevitably led to much trolling and abuse being directed towards those behind these demonstrations. Meanwhile, Twitter hashtags such as #brexitriots are used to both dehumanise loyalists and to score political points about the negative consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. 

The most recent Twitter storm has revolved around a video selfie in which a young woman filmed herself with former DUP leader Arlene Foster singing “ooh ah, up the RA”. The subsequent social media pile-on saw many calls for her to be dismissed from her job, with victims groups calling on the woman to apologise for “mainstreaming” IRA violence. A picture in which she was seen holding an AK-47 rifle circulated online and was reproduced in the Sunday Life. This was not the first time that a social media ‘joke’ had caused such controversy. In 2018 Sinn Fein representative Barry McElduff received death threats for a video in which he appeared to mock the anniversary of the 1976 Kingsmill massacre. These incidents show how sites like Twitter provide rich pickings for professional journalists looking for a story.

I have argued previously that social media shouldn’t be held responsible for the sectarianism and sporadic violence that persists in post-conflict Northern Ireland. While it is undeniable that platforms like WhatsApp have made it easier to organise protests (and riots), people still need to be motivated to act on information received via these channels. To paraphrase a colleague, blaming protests and related violence on social media is akin to crediting the fax machine with bringing down the Berlin Wall in 1989. 

The reality is that we often overstate the prevalence of online harms and the influence of online platforms on real world events. Belfast Telegraph journalist Alison Morris recently argued that social media makes it appear as if sectarianism “is far more widespread than it is”, suggesting that much of the social media hate she experienced was generated by a small group of people operating multiple accounts.  People also appear more circumspect in their use of online platforms, and are not as susceptible to false or incendiary content as previously thought. Recent research indicates that only one in four Northern Irish adults use Facebook and YouTube to follow news, and only one in five trust online platforms as an information source. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that citizens would first learn about contentious issues via their social media accounts. Whether directly or indirectly, people growing up in a divided society are quickly made aware of conflict legacy issues and the persistence of sectarian divisions.

Social media undoubtedly amplify sectarian and divisive rhetoric that pollutes public discourse and makes it harder to promote reconciliation in post-conflict societies. However, it would be misleading to suggest that greater platform regulation alone will solve these issues. After all, people typically become aware of social media controversies like the “Up the Ra” video via television and print media rather than via these platforms. Hence, advocates of peace journalism suggest that news media have a responsibility to provide more in-depth analysis of contentious issues rather than concentrate on the Twitter storms such as those discussed above. Too often we focus on how issues are represented in the media rather than those who have the power to deal with them. The persistence of sectarian attitudes is due to the failure of political leaders to address the issues of conflict legacy rather than the moderation policies of big tech companies. It’s time for them to change the conversation, both on and offline.