In Fall 2023, SFU’s School of Communication will celebrate its 50th anniversary and will feature a program of events that aim to revisit and explore a range of critical scholarship and practice that has been a feature of the School since the beginning. Curated around the theme, Communication as Critique, the 50th Anniversary celebrations will feature the work of world-class scholars and will engage with the legacies and future research of faculty and students in the School of Communication. 

To begin these celebrations we are convening a 50th Anniversary Fall Speakers’ program, focusing on four thematic areas that have long informed critical research and teaching in Communication and Media Studies. We have outlined these areas below, and look forward to hosting a series of lively, engaged talks on the future of Communication and Media Studies.

50th Anniversary Thematic Areas

Global Communication - September 14 | Speaker: Paola Ricaurte

Global communication scholarship has long posed critical questions about the nature of knowledge and epistemic power in our field, the role of structural conditions that undergird processes of mediatization and forms of counter-knowledge and practice generated in and with the Global South. While advocating for forms of immanent critique that align with the struggle for national and transnational labour rights, gender equity, environmental protection or racial justice, global communication scholars have been at the forefront of calls for the development of a more balanced and just field of study. In celebration of the School of Communication’s 50th Anniversary, in this thematic stream, we draw on scholars at the forefront of studies in Global Communication, to explore ongoing epistemic transformations in our field, including the structures of change shaping communication infrastructures, practices and priorities today.   

Paola Ricaurte is an associate professor in the Department of Media and Digital Culture at Tecnológico de Monterrey and faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. With Nick Couldry and Ulises Mejías, she co-founded Tierra Común, a network of academics, practitioners and activists interested in decolonizing data. She participates in several expert committees, such as the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), the Global Index on Responsible AI and the Expert Group for the Implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. She is a member of the <A+> Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms and leads the Latin American and Caribbean hub of the Feminist AI Research Network, f<A+i>r.

Technocritique - October 5 | Speaker: Kishonna Gray

How do we connect critical theories of technology – including ones keyed to the infrastructural complexities of socio-technical and scientific assemblages – to ethical and political investigations into alternative paradigms of connection, interactivity and use? How are the potentials and affordances of technicity to be opened up to democratising and emancipatory practices, and pulled away from their entanglement in authoritarian, exclusionary and exploitative projects? The critique of technology and forms of practical criticism embodied in and embedded by technical systems delimit an open field of what we’re calling ‘technocritique’ to capture an ample and diverse range of texts, inquiries and research programmes that the School of Communication has engaged with over the past half century.

Re-marking the Terrain: Creative Practices and Policy Change - October 26 

Different identities and lived experiences along race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, and citizenship are constructed and communicated through ruling relations, institutions, popular media, and public discourse. Intersectionality as critique highlights an interdisciplinary, critical approach to communication and media scholarship that centres on voices and practices that have been marginalized and/or excluded in research and society. In this stream, we celebrate and feature work that interrogates how underprivileged and subordinated people are subject to the interlocking systems of oppression wrought by capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and cisnormativity, while also exploring the emancipatory possibilities fostered by activist politics and social movements for equality and justice in varied local, national and transnational contexts.

Intersectionality - November 16 | Speaker: Sarah Banet-Weiser

One of the early objectives in the foundation of the School of Communication was to engage in work in the field of communication for social justice. Historically, this tradition is reflected in work invested in fostering democracy, advocating for peace and human rights, and promoting activism that aims to disrupt structures of power across societies. In this thematic stream we celebrate research and scholarship that addresses the critique of political economy and capitalism’s deleterious effects on values of equity, peace, environmental health, media democracy and non-precarious labour conditions, reflecting the longstanding commitment of many members of the School community to social activism in the service of progressive social change.

Sarah Banet-Weiser's teaching and research interests include gender in the media, citizenship, consumer culture, popular media, race and the media, and intersectional feminism. She is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication and Professor of Communication at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Committed to intellectual and activist conversations that explore how global media politics are exercised, expressed, and perpetuated in different cultural contexts, she has authored or edited eight books, including the award-winning Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture (NYU Press, 2012) and Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny (Duke, 2018), and dozens of peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and essays. In 2019-2020, she had a regular column on popular feminism in the Los Angeles Review of Books.


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