Digital (Im)materialities is a student-run conference organized by the first-year MA Media Studies cohort at Concordia University in Tio'tia:ke/Montreal.
As the pandemic continues to rage, we approach one year of conducting much of our lives: personal, professional, academic, online. This transition has proven in turns frustrating, alienating, and humorous but, more saliently, it has highlighted myriad questions and challenges in the realm of communications and media studies. Given these considerations, our conference encourages a self-reflexive approach which takes advantage of the unique affordances of virtual gathering and challenges the notion of the virtual as ahistorical and non-spatial: a global conference for a moment of global crisis. This year has not only seen the mainstreaming of such platforms as Zoom and TikTok, but has reiterated the importance of longstanding lines of inquiry of Queer and Disability studies scholars whose work attends to the importance of digital community and accessibility. By bracketing the “im” in immaterialities, we hope to emphasize the dual nature of digitally mediated life during the pandemic: both the ephemeral and the durable; absence and presence. Though these aspects are inherent to virtual existence, they are highlighted during moments of crisis. While this conference is presented by the Communication Studies department, we wish to foster scholarship which bridges fields of study and provokes diverse ways of thinking through seemingly discipline-specific questions. As such, we hope to offer an arena for graduate scholars, research-creators, and artists to critically engage with the issues of the moment, offer solutions and connect with fellow thinkers to both mourn what has been lost during the pandemic and to celebrate the unique possibility for reimagining the status quo.
We acknowledge that Concordia University is located on unceded Indigenous lands. The Kanien’kehá:ka Nation is recognized as the custodians of the lands and waters on which many of us gather today. Tiohtià:ke/Montréal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations. Today, it is home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples. We respect the continued connections with the past, present and future in our ongoing relationships with Indigenous and other peoples within the Montreal community.
As we gather from across the web and around the world, we wish to recognise the material and territorial implications of this context. Following the Arts Libraries of North America, We acknowledge the Ohlone family of tribes as the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of what is now called San Jose, California where Zoom is headquartered. The Ohlone - a collective of around 50 separate tribes with related languages that are collectively recognized under this umbrella term - have been living in the Bay Area for 10,000 years. The Ohlone are still here today fighting to keep their culture alive despite the legacy of Spanish missions and Mexican and American colonization.
In the spirit of translating immaterialities into materialities, we encourage each participant joining us from across the globe to look up the lands they are situated on - past, present and future - and to reflect on their relationship to these lands: https://native-land.ca/
We stand in solidarity with Palestine and people everywhere engaged in anti-colonial struggle.