Digital Media in Latinx & Latin America

This preconference aims to examine the production, distribution, and consumption of digital media in Latinx and Latin America. It is a follow up to the preconferences held in relation to the 2019 and 2020 Annual Meetings of the International Communication Association – on Digital Journalism in Latin America in 2019, and on Digital Media in Latin America in 2020.

For this third edition, we have broadened the scope to include digital media practices of the Latinx diasporic experience, to create a platform that can showcase the richness of a wider variety of relevant research about the Latinx and Latin American experience. Research about Latinx and Latin America—and Latinx and Latin American researchers—tends to be underrepresented in Communication scholarship in general, and in ICA in particular. Further, the preconference will address the theme of inequality as constructed in media environments, access and use, political discourse, transnational mobility, pandemics, and difference. 

As both digital media production and consumption have featured increasingly more prominently in the information landscape of Latinx and Latin America, it is critical inquiring into the Latinx and Latin American experience in and of itself, which tends to be understudied and underrepresented in ICA, and to examine whether the specificity of Latinx and Latin American communities might entail differences with digital media as it is constructed and appropriated in other communities. These are some possible topics:

a)    Latinx and Latin American journalism has been described as less professionalized and less independent than mainstream journalism in stable democracies. How have these two long-standing features affected the practices of online news production and the self-perception of reporters? 

b) Misinformation and fake news have become a hot topic in the Americas, especially during the presidential elections in Mexico, Chile, Brazil and the United States and the current health crisis. What factors affect the spread of false information in digital environments, and how does it compare to the spread of fake news we have observed in mainstream Global North? How has this been reflected in identity politics?

c) Political communication in the Americas has become more polarized over the past couple of years. The emergent phenomenon of dark participation, particularly those practices driven by algorithmic entities, has gained prominence in the academic debate lately. How has political communication been reflected in diverse media and communication practices? How does dark participation contrast with comparable trends in other regions of the world? How have these trends been heightened in recent elections? 

d) Social movements to fight gender-based violence, racial discrimination, systemic racism, worker’s rights, such as #NiUnaMenos, #UnVioladorEnTuCamino and #Vidasnegrasimportam(n), have embraced the potential of digital media to self-organize and have their voices heard. What has been the role of social media in the organization of these events, and how have publics engaged or not with it? How do their practices and results compare to other social movements within and outside of Latinx and Latin American communities? How has colorism been made salient by media practices around recent protests against ongoing/systemic racism?      

e) The ongoing migration of large swaths of Latin American populations has favored the adoption of peer-to-peer networks, such as WhatsApp, and social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, to maintain and actualize familial relationships and, more generally, a sense of belonging to the countries of origin in Latin America. How do these practices redefine the social dynamics, both in the country of origin and in the country of destination? How are challenges and opportunities articulated in the use of digital media among Latinx migrants?

f) The COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on Latinxs in the United States and in Latin America. It has also sharpened differences and contradictions in political discourse, transnational cooperation, media environments, and misinformation flows. How has COVID-19 impacted digital media in Latinx and Latin America? How can scholars address inequities in digital media use, access and broadly across the Americas?

g) Representation in the media of Latinx and marginalized peoples in Latin America continues to be an issue. How does digital media intervene in representation? Are new opportunities afforded? Or are old patterns being repeated? How are indigenous and Afro-Latinx communities using digital media to speak?

h) Recently there have been legislative proposals in Mexico and Brazil around topics like fake news, net neutrality or content moderation, all affecting journalism and freedom of expression. How have these conversations taken place? How are they different from the ones in the Global North?

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