5th Annual Conference Report

Kate O’Riordan

In 2003 the annual MeCCSA conference was held on the University
of Sussex campus just outside Brighton, UK. The University
of Sussex, the conference chair (Dr Sally R Munt) and MeCCSA
clearly worked hard to develop a stimulating conference in
comfortable surroundings. This paid off and the conference
was a really enjoyable event with about 150 delegates from
all over the UK, other parts of Europe, the USA and Australia.

The highlight for me was Elizabeth Grosz’s keynote
speech. This keynote closed the conference and left me with
the feeling that it had all been worthwhile giving up a weekend
before Christmas! Despite her having flu, Grosz’s paper
was delivered in a very accessible and engaging way and raised
clear and different questions about nature/culture dynamics.
This brought a sense of challenge and progress to nature/nurture,
and determinism/constructionism debates and seemed to indicate
an important re-evaluation of a variety of associated paradigms.
Grosz also pointed to examples of engagements within Media,
Communication and Cultural Studies that were dealing with
these questions such as analyses of biotechnologies.

The keynote panel on film brought together a variety of
film academics and industry experts. There were presentations
from Patrick Fuery, Cherry Potter, John Hill, Mark Janovich
with Christine Geraghty in the chair. The variety of different
positions expressed provided the basis for a lively discussion
of the relationships between film, academia and the industry.

‘Looking back, looking forwards: from ‘ferment
in the field’ to – what?’ was the title
of the keynote by Jostein Gripsrud. His engaging talk opened
with an invitation to UK academics to learn at least one
other language as a matter of priority, and highlighted the
issue of language in communication studies as a whole. He
then discussed an overview of the field, referring back to ‘ferment
in the field’. He particularly stressed the importance
of Media Studies as a central curriculum requirement in contemporary
society.

I attended a variety of panels on digital media, queer
cultures and globalisation. These all involved interesting
papers and showed a high quality of work in the field. The
digital media panels (Collins, Gemeinboeck, Myles and Miah,
Pietrobruno, Moschini) involved discussions about digital
games, aesthetics, work cultures, performance, gender and
ontology. The globalisation panel (De Jong, Stammers, Sparks,
Shaw) presented and discussed the work of contributors to
a forthcoming book from Pluto Press on global media and activism.
The queer cultures panel (Carolin, Thynne, O’Riordan)
involved a wide ranging discussion about representation,
film and alternative media production.

The annual MeCCSA AGM was well attended and raised some
important issues around policy and the potential for policy
intervention and consultation between, MeCCSA, the funding
bodies, and the government.

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