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Visual Politics & Protest - Current Methodological Challenges

  • 06.10.2022
  • 07.10.2022
  • Online

Deadline: June 1, 2022

ECREA pre-conference workshop

War streaming on Instagram, propaganda in press photography, refugee activism on TikTok? - Recent European crises have shown images and videos as essential tools of communication in politics and protest, a trend mirrored in the increasing use of visuals in research methodologies. Visual data can capture practices of visual, performative or non-verbal communication, text-image relationships, the development of visual formats, notions of aesthetics, as well as underlying meanings of symbols and codes. Extant research has since captured different elements of visual politics and protest, including: social history (e.g. protest photography), political commentary or alignment (e.g. through memes or overlays), social cues in political communication (e.g. GIFs, filters, or emoji), visual activism practices (e.g. culture-jamming, sousveillance video coverage, flesh-witnessing), and visual forms of information documentation and distribution (e.g. infographics).

Even so, new creative practices have at times challenged research practices, for example with regards to image authenticity and appropriation in mis- and disinformation campaigns (e.g. deepfakes), platform affordances in new visual formats and spaces (e.g. short videos on TikTok), (mis)interpretation and visual (il)literacy in communications, trust in image data as factual evidence, and opaqueness in the production of visual materials. These critical debates have been particularly contentious in the arena of politics and protest, where visuals have been seen to shape political opinion and discourse, electoral campaigns, war coverage, and Covid-19 data visualisations.

In response to these trends, the ECREA Visual Cultures section is inviting submissions to the online pre-conference on “Visual Politics & Protest” with a focus on epistemological and methodological challenges, taking place on 6th and 7th October 2022 (= 2 weeks prior to ECREA 2022). The pre-conference workshop will include a keynote by Dr. Jing Zeng (University of Zurich), a series of lightning talks, a panel discussion (including speakers Dr. Stefania Vicari, Dr. Shana MacDonald, & Dr. Jing Zeng), and hands-on discussion rounds with a specific focus on epistemological challenges in research on visual politics and protest.

Topics of interest

We are looking for lightning talks on challenges encountered in research on visual politics and/or protest, which will be allocated to thematic panels. Towards encouraging lively discussions, we are not looking for entire paper proposals, but focussed submissions that outline the challenge along with examples (in written, visual, or other creative forms).

On a broad level this may include (but is not limited to):

  • New methodological challenges in visual or multimodal data collection or analysis
  • Platform- or format-specific challenges in conducting visual research on politics and protest
  • Methodological approaches for capturing visuality or visual cultures surrounding politics and protest
  • Challenges in embedding visuals or visuality with textual, audio, or sensory materials
  • Issues in interpreting and/or quantifying visual data
  • Emerging approaches to visualising image or video data
  • Suggestions for the ethical treatment of visuality in politics or protest
  • Approaches in analysing specific political visual practices and/or phenomena
  • Epistemological discussions of the role of the visual in politics, protest, or social movements
  • Theorizing visual issues (example: visibility through aesthetics and visuality)

Submissions should ideally either discuss new challenges, present in-depth illustrations/ examples of specific challenges, or introduce new approaches or nuances.


Please submit a 200 word description of your challenge in researching visual cultures or materials, along with your contact details on this Google Form link (200 is the maximum incl. references). Proposals can be submitted until 1st June 2022 at 23.59 CEST. Descriptions should be written in English and contain a summary of the challenge that will be presented, as well as a notion of the reflections or approaches that are taken or recommended. The description may follow a conventional abstract structure, but is not bound to it. We encourage creative, unconventional, and work-in-progress submissions, particularly from early-career scholars. The addition of supplementary visual data such as a poster or data excerpt is optional. The submissions should represent a specific issue or challenge encountered in the participant’s visual research.

We are aware that not everyone will be able to use Google services due to regional restrictions or privacy concerns. In those cases we invite participants to submit directly by email The email should contain following information: paper title, participant first and last name, country of affiliation, affiliation, career stage, email contact, names of co-authors, a 200-word description of the challenge, 1-2 visual materials (PDF, Word, or jpg) if applicable (this is optional), and indicate if you would like to be considered for the special issue.

During the workshop, these challenges should be presented as short presentations (7-10 minutes) in panel groups with an adjoining discussion. These presentations do not need to follow conventional presentation formats (creative and purely visual presentations are encouraged). Please note that multi-author submissions are very much welcome, but due to the short nature of lightning talks we ask that only one person (i.e. the submitting author) presents.

Details on the presentation format and full programme will be released in due time.

Workshop follow-up

Post-workshop, a summary (e.g. in the form of a co-authored “living syllabus on visual politics and protest research'') will be created and circulated amongst the participants and the wider public.

Participants will also be invited to join an informal follow-up meeting at ECREA in Aarhus: “visual politics & protest coffee hour”.

Participants will have the opportunity to submit their full papers to a special issue in Journal of Digital Social Research ( Extended abstracts of 500 words are due 1st December 2022. Interest in submitting to the special issue should be indicated in the submission form. More information on the special issue will follow in due course.

Further details

The pre-conference workshop is organised by the ECREA Visual Cultures section (see and will take place online.


Pre-conference website:

Email contact:

Link to profile of keynote speaker:

Key dates 2022

  • 1st June: pre-conference submission deadline
  • 15th August: communication of acceptance
  • 6th & 7th October: ECREA pre-conference on Visual Politics & Protest (online)
  • 19th to 22nd October: ECREA general conference
  • 1st December 2022: special issue abstract deadline

Pre-conference team

Maria Schreiber, University of Salzburg

Suay Melisa Özkula, University of Trento

Tom Divon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Danka Ninković Slavnić, University of Belgrade

Doron Altaratz, The Hadassah Academic College

Hadas Schlussel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem



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