ICA Preconference 2019

Crossing Boundaries in Visual Communication Research

Background and Aim

Visuals are an integral part of everyday interactions, political communication and news coverage. They can evoke strong emotions, frame information or even become powerful icons. Visual communication practices, visual representations and visual rhetorics are thus central components for understanding how boundaries in politics, culture and society are defined, transgressed or shifted.

In recent years, for example the role of visuals for (re)defining boundaries of solidarity or of in- and outgroups in political protests or far-right transnational publics has been explored. Visuals also create new challenges and opportunities to transgress boundaries of what can and what should be expressed. They can be used to articulate critique and to fool and bypass censorship. But the vagueness and polysemy of visuals can also be used as a defense strategy political actors employ against reproaches of having transgressed boundaries of acceptable political campaign communication. Other authors addressed boundaries from a different point of view and discussed questions of visual truth in citizen reportage and interstices of professional-amateur boundaries.

Given the ubiquity of visuals and visual practices in contemporary societies it is timely to bring together these approaches and to further discuss how interpersonal and social, cultural, national, linguistic, or moral boundaries are established, eliminated, crossed or transgressed with visual communication.

Therefore, the preconference will to draw attention to e.g., boundary crossings with/through visual practices, visual representations of boundary crossings and how they are produced and perceived, historical perspectives on boundary crossings, the role of visuals in (re-)defining boundaries between fact and misinformation and in politics of knowledge or questions of crossing methodological, theoretical and ethical boundaries in the field of visual communication research. Please find the full Call for Papers here: CfP_PreCon_Crossing Boundaries in Visual Communication Research_Washington 2019

The preconference brings together young researchers (current Ph.D. students and early career postdoctoral researchers) and senior scholars. It is open to participants from all different sub-fields in media and communication studies, ICA divisions and interest groups who focus on mediated images and visual practices in their completed or ongoing research projects. It aims to be an opportunity especially for young scholars to discuss their work and the role of visuals for defining/crossing boundaries in society and to receive substantial feedback by peers and senior experts. Moreover, it is meant to be a forum to jointly discuss current challenges and future directions regarding methodological, theoretical, and ethical boundary crossings in the interdisciplinary field of visual communication research. In this regard, the preconference also seeks to stimulate exchange on ways of overcoming divisional and disciplinary boundaries and to further provide “visual expertise” to other disciplines, fields and also actors beyond academia.

The preconference will consist of several formats: an opening keynote by Luc Pauwels, a presentation session, workshop groups and a closing plenary. Expert discussants are Prof. Dr. Shahira Fahmy (University of Arizona) and Prof. Dr. Katharina Lobinger (USI – Università della Svizzera italiana).



The preconference will be held at American University, Constitution Hall, Room 1.



Tentative Program

arrival at conference venue, American University, Constitution Hall, Room 1
10:45-11:00 welcome address and introduction
11:00-12:00 keynote – experts’ talk (Luc Pauwels) on boundary crossings in visual communication research
12:00-12:30 lunch break
12:30-13:30 presentations I

brief presentations of visual research projects by young scholars + feedback and discussions

13:30-13:45 break
13:45-14:45 presentations

brief presentations of visual research projects by young scholars + feedback and discussions

14:45-15:00 coffee break
15:00-16:00 experts’ sessions

parallel discussions in small groups of scholars with methodologically and/or thematically related research projects, discussion of research projects as well as current challenges and future directions for visual communication research

16:00-16:30 closing plenary

summary of insights from experts’ sessions and discussion

Presentation sessions will combine brief oral presentations (5-7 minutes) and follow-up discussions.


Organizers & Contact

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions regarding the preconference.

Rebecca Venema, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland, rebecca.venema@usi.ch


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