Debra Ramsay's picture
Call for Papers
April 30, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Contemporary History, Environmental History / Studies, Film and Film History, Journalism and Media Studies, Military History

In January 2022 the Doomsday Clock moved to 100 seconds to midnight, providing a stark warning that the world is closer than it has ever been to cataclysmic devastation.  The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists identifies nuclear weapons, misuse of information technologies and climate change as the three most critical threats to the planet. Highlighted by the war Ukraine, conflict, media and climate change are at the epicentre of the current crisis, yet the entanglements between these three elements have never been fully explored.  The intent behind this call for papers is to begin to address that critical gap. 

There have, of course, been investigations into aspects of various combinations of relationships between these three elements.  News media around the globe have been addressing climate change in various ways since the middle of the last century and how news media address, or fail to address, the climate crisis has been the focus of much academic attention (Boykoff 2008, 2009; Lester and Cottle 2009).  There has been interest in how the climate crisis is playing out in documentary films (Hughes 2012; Aaltonen 2014; Huggan 2015; Bieniek-Tobasco et al 2019), and the role played by fiction film in representing climate issues has also received some attention (von Burg 2011; Skallari 2015;  Manzo 2017).  However, investigations into how the relationship between violence and climate change has been represented in film are thin on the ground (Hobbs-Morgan 2017).  In addition, more research is needed into how videogames are responding to the intersections between conflict and climate change, and into how televisual narratives are engaging with these issues.

Meanwhile Defence Departments around the world – in the U.S., the U.K., India, France, New Zealand and China, to name a few – have all identified climate change as a non-traditional security challenge and are in the process of developing strategies and measures to address it.   Much of the discourse around climate change and armed conflict, however, in academia and in the military, is concerned with attempting to prove, or disprove, causal links between the two (Hsiang et al 2013; Selby et al 2017; Adams et al 2018; Nordqvist and Krampe 2018) or with identifying climate change as a threat multiplier (Brown, Hammill, MCleman 2007 Huntjens and Nachbar 2015).  How conflict itself has contributed to climate change, not only through the damage caused by armed engagements past and present, but also through the carbon bootprint of military activities, has received less attention in the media and in academia.  Other forms of conflict emerging from climate change - such as that between human and non-human for resources, for example – and their relationship to media, have also not been fully investigated.     

This special edition addresses the urgent need to investigate the intersections between media, conflict and climate change, and the challenges and/or opportunities that emerge from their entanglements.  Potential topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • What are the implications and extent of the use of martial terms in the discourse in relation to climate – eg. “war on the planet”, #waronourfuture, “climate wars”
  • How are different forms of conflict related to climate change reported and represented in both traditional forms of media and other media forms around the world? 
  • In what ways do the media of different countries address climate-related migrations and their relationship to conflict?
  • In what ways do non-fictional media forms (film, television, digital games) inflect the understanding of the relationship between conflict and climate change?
  • How has the coverage of war (such as the recent war in Ukraine) represented/obscured the environmental cost of warfare?
  • What media strategies are militaries around the world adopting in relation to their role in responding to the climate crisis?
  • How is the impact of the climate crisis on the international security landscape playing out in media?
  • How have the long-term environmental legacies of conflict been addressed or ignored in media?
  • Are some countries able to negotiate climate change without conflict?  What role does media play in such countries?   What can be learned from them?
  • How are environmental wars mis/understood and represented in media?
  • Why has Hollywood ignored climate change?
  • In what ways are video games, especially those with war-themed settings, addressing the relationship between conflict and climate?
  • How are other forms of conflict and their relationship to climate change – between human and non-human, for example – being ignored or addressed in media?

We particularly welcome papers that cover previously under-represented countries and regions in debates about these issues – Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan, South Asia, South East Asia, for example – as well as papers addressing the recent war in the Ukraine.

Please send abstracts of 200-300 words to:

Dr Debra Ramsay: d.ramsay@exeter.ac.uk

Dr Martin Robson: m.robson@exeter.ac.uk

Please use the subject line: 100 Sec to Midnight Abstract

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 April 2023


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