I was honored to attend the 2016 IAMCR Conference recently held at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom from July 27–31, 2016. The conference theme of memory, commemoration, and communication was a meaningful opportunity to examine how the media speak to local and global audiences, in both the past and the present.
During the conference, I presented the paper “Unfolding memories: Representations of migration and intercultural communication.” The paper investigates the media’s portrayal of migrant workers in Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries by looking at a corpus of news articles published between December 2015 and June 2016. Using frame theory and critical discourse analysis, the methodology aimed to identify emerging themes and neglected dimensions facing migrant workers in intercultural labour environments. The goal of the research is to stimulate debate about the dual nature of media as a tool to reinforce oppression and engender change.
From a participant’s point-of-view, the conference was a great success and ran very smoothly. The diversity of conference sessions was a fantastic representation of the research being done across communication studies, from the diaspora to participatory processes, and even visual methodologies. I genuinely appreciated the opportunity to learn about the research taking place within the diaspora working group and to build meaningful relationships with researchers who could offer a fresh perspective into my own work. In this regard, the support IAMCR provides as an outlet to test research, to receive feedback–and to network–is innumerable.
A focus on communication rights during the conference was especially useful for my research, with a plenary session devoted to the topic led by Professor Marc Raboy, Anita Gurumurthy, Sonia Livingstone, and Thomas Tufte. Understanding how memory functions, provides insight into how Communication for Social Change (CSC) can carve out spaces to discuss, debate, and call for improved communication rights across contexts. In this regard, considering what is included and excluded–written and rewritten–gives us a clue about what lies underneath discursive practice.
A big thanks to the organizers for doing such a great job! I look forward to being an active member of the IAMCR in the coming years and attending next year’s conference in Cartagena, Colombia.