Fan Activism and Civic Engagement
The Fan Communities and Fandom Project: 3rd Global Meeting
Sunday 20th September – Tuesday 22nd September 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom
“By translating some of the world’s most pressing issues into the framework of Harry Potter, [the Harry Potter Alliance] makes activism something easier to grasp and less intimidating. Often we show them fun and accessible ways that they can take action and express their passion to make the world better by working with one of our partner NGO’s [nongovernmental organizations].” – Andrew Slack, Harry Potter Alliance (2009)
Call for Presentations:
From Trekkies taking action to save the Star Trek television series from cancellation, to fan ownership of sports teams, to the Harry Potter Alliance’s support for charities and NGOs working in the areas of health, gay rights and humanitarian relief, fans acting individually and as members of participatory communities have demonstrated their power as a source of direct action. With the advent of the Internet, fans of anything and everything can now connect with others who share their passion, form communities, make friends, share information, discuss social and political issues of interest to members of the group and organise to achieve specific objectives. Of course, the notion of fan activism might be considered a contradiction in terms because, where activism is often revered as a proactive means of engaging with real world issues, fans are often stigmatised for obsessing over fictional texts and leisure pursuits that, ultimately, have little impact on the issues that matter in the real world. In practice, however, fan communities have evolved into powerful platforms for participation and collective engagement aimed at achieving a range of goals that often affect the community at large. Of course, not all forms of fan activism are successful or positive, as demonstrated by examples such as the inability of Manchester United fans to oust unpopular owner, Malcolm Glazer, and the tendency by fan groups, like the ‘Beliebers’, to barrage critics of their beloved star with hate messages via social media. Regardless of the nature and outcome of fan activism, however, the individual agency, communal dynamics and socio-political engagement that underpin fan activities warrant closer consideration at a time when grassroots engagement and political participation are being hailed as a valuable antidote to the consolidation of institutional power around the globe.
The Global Project on Fan Communities and Fandom provides a platform for facilitating inter-disciplinary dialogues involving fans, activists, academic researchers, creative practitioners, representatives from governmental organisations and NGOs, professionals and others with an interest in exploring the fascinating phenomenon of fandom. The Conference on Fan Activism and Civic Engagement, which follows on from the Project’s previous conferences on fan communities and fan tourism, proceeds from the premise that discussions of fan activism can deepen our understanding of the dynamics of fan behaviour and civic engagement, particularly within the context of activist groups. Not only can this dialogue enhance our understanding of fandom and activism, it can provide insights into strategies for harnessing participatory culture in ways that serve the broader community.
The Project Team welcomes the submission of proposals for talks, workshops, performances, panels that deal with any aspect of fan activism and civic engagement, including:
1) The Relationship Between Fandom and Activism:
– Differences and similarities between individuals or groups described as fans and individuals or groups activists
– Community dynamics and other factors which lead fans to engage in higher levels of activism
– Historical or comparative assessments of fan communities and activist groups
– Applications of fan studies concepts to activism
– Applications of ideas from activism and collective action studies to the fandom context
2) Case Studies of Activism and Civic Engagement by Fans of:
– Film and Television
– Visual Arts
3) Platforms for Participation, Activism and Engagement:
– Online forums
– Community outreach initiatives (off-line)
– Fan labour, creative production, entrepreneurialism
4) Regulating Fan Activism:
– Self-regulation within fan communities
– Fan activism and the law
– Technologies that regulate/limit/enable fan practice
5) Strategies for Engagement:
– Examples of effective strategies for generating cooperation between fan communities and charities, NGOs, governmental agencies, etc.
– New opportunities and areas for fan activism and civic engagement
– Limitations of fan activism: factors in the failure of fan activism and strategies for overcoming them
6) Fan Activism and Identity:
– Gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and nationality in fan communities
– Fan activism around identity politics
– Cross-cultural fandoms and protest
– Influence of external prejudices on fan communities
– Activism and fan psychology
– Relationship between fan shame and activism (e.g. activism as a compensation strategy for fan shame)
7) Results of Fan Activism and Civic Engagement:
– Pleasures of fan activism
– Critiques of fan activism
– Community benefits of fan activism
– Perceptions of fan activism in society, including the representation of fan activism in film, television, media, music, the visual arts, theatre and literature
The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.
What to Send:
300 word proposal should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2015. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 3rd July 2015. 300 word abstracts should be submitted to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats, following this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: FAN 3 Abstract Submission.
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.
The conference is part of the Persons series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.
Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.