CFP Cultural Studies <=>Critical Methodologies

Special Issue of Cultural Studies <=>Critical Methodologies on Transparency

We invite contributions for a special issue of Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies on transparency. The issue will be edited by Jan Teurlings and Markus Stauff, both lecturers at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

The continuing Wikileaks saga is but one example of the pervasive contemporary trend towards and struggle around transparency. Not only politics, but Western (media) culture at large seems permeated by a tendency towards transparency. DVDs routinely include a commentary on how the movie was produced, reality TV makes no secret of its contrived artificiality and invites for savvy readings, political commentary focuses on the inner workings of government, sports reporting routinely reports on transfer information and the amounts involved, or goes to great lengths to explain and visualize team strategies, and trendy restaurants integrate in the kitchen from the dining area.

Situationists like Debord argued in the 1960s that we were living in the society of the spectacle; nowadays, it seems, that spectacle has become translucent, or that the machinery producing the spectacle has become an integral part of the latter.
It is not only in the sphere of media that transparency has taken center stage. In politics, policy studies and economics the question of transparency has a long history.
The often unspoken assumption is that transparency is somehow "good" and secrecy or black-boxing is "bad". In this special issue we want to rise above this binary opposition and instead interrogate transparency's relation to a variety of political traditions, like (neo)liberalism, social-democracy, communism, anarchism or conservatism.

We are also interested in the question what kinds of knowledge are promoted by a particular "transparent" medium, genre or cultural form, and what types of subjectivities it stimulates. The work of Foucault is an obvious theoretical resource for answering such questions but we specifically encourage engagements with other theoretical approaches, like marxism, feminism, postcolonial theory or actor-network theory.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

- media sports and transparency

- visualization and forms of knowledge

- new media, new transparencies?

- the limitations and impossibility of transparency

- transparency and risk society

- transparency and statistics

- transparency and the culture of auditing

- transparency and conspiracy theories

- the political economy of transparency

- gendered forms of transparency

- the transparency of globalization/ the globalization of transparency

- transparency and ideology / transparency as ideology

- transparency as governmentality / governmentality and transparency

- transparency and liberalism

- transparency and the control society

- transparency and full spectrum dominance

Articles on particular case-studies, like Wikileaks, Abu Ghraib, Google Analytics, or Transparency International are also solicited.

Authors can choose between two formats: full-length (6000 words, notes not included), or the above-mentioned case studies of 2500-3000 words.

If you are interested in contributing, please send a 300 word abstract before 15 February 2012 to Jan Teurlings,, mentioning whether your contribution is a full-length article or a case study. The deadline for finished papers is 1st of May 2012.


  1. See this piece already available and close to actor-network theory:
    Yannick Rumpala, "Knowledge and praxis of networks as a political project", 21st Century Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, November 2009.
    Modern-day society is increasingly described as an extensive web of networks, but as such, it is often perceived and experienced as elusive. In light of this paralysing description, this paper aims to highlight the potentially political dimension of network analysis, namely as defined in the social sciences, and of the notion of networks itself. It will be shown that a political project could, in this case, be built on the desire to know this reticular world better, but also to be able to act appropriately towards it. Three steps are proposed to specify how such a political project could be built. The first step aims at deploying knowledge of networks and emphasises the usefulness of a procedure to trace them. The second step shows the possibilities that this knowledge offers, particularly in allowing one to find one’s bearings in a world which is frequently described as veering towards an increasing complexity, and by helping to rebuild the selection criteria for connections in this world, thanks to an additional degree of reflexivity. The third step draws on these points to extend them and bring out potentialities with regards to the intervention capacities in network configurations.
    (also downloadable at: )


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