The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) held its annual conference from 11-15 July 2021 in Nairobi and Online. As part of their conference, they also offered grants to host No Travel Events, one of which was awarded to Ms Devina Sarwatay, PhD Student and Senior Research Fellow (UGC-NET) working with Prof. Usha Raman at the Department of Communication (DoC), University of Hyderabad (UoH), India.
Ms Sarwatay organised the IAMCR Hyderabad Event (henceforth, the Event) at UoH with support from the Faculty Advisory Board (FAB) comprising Prof. Usha Raman, Prof. Vinod Pavarala, and Dr Madhavi Ravikumar and the Local Student Organising Committee (LSOC) consisting of PhD students – Ms Vipula PC and Ms Hazeena T – and MA students – Ms Madhu Veechika K, Ms Sumbul Danish, Mr Uma Shankar Veeraballi, and Ms Varsha Manoj Nair – of DoC, UoH. The IAMCR No Travel Event Grant of USD 250.00 was used to organise a Graduate Students Conference Competition (GSCC) on 13th July 2021, Day 3 of the Event. Assistance for the Event at UoH was also received from Prof. Vasuki Belavadi, Dr Aditya Deshbandhu, Mr Ashish Jacob Thomas, Mr Pranay Rupani, and Ms Namitha Sahajan.
The IAMCR Hyderabad Event
Day 1: Opening
The IAMCR Hyderabad Event opened on the 11th of July 2021 with an inaugural address by Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Senior Professor, DoC, UoH. This was followed by the streaming of the recorded IAMCR 2021 opening plenary and a live discussion led by Prof. Pavarala. The opening plenary recordings of Prof. Dorothy Njoroge, Chair, IAMCR 2021 Local Organising Committee (USIU-Africa – Kenya), welcoming words by Prof. Nico Carpentier, President of IAMCR, Prof. Usha Raman, Vice President of IAMCR and Senior Professor, DoC, UoH, Dr Andrea Medrado, Vice President of IAMCR, Prof. Paul Zeleza, USIU-Africa Vice-Chancellor and Keynote by Prof. Tawana Kupe of the University of Pretoria, South Africa on ‘We need to disrupt ourselves and reimagine media and communication studies in a changing world’ with responses from Prof. Wilson Ugangu, President EACA (MultiMedia University, Kenya and Dr Faith Nguru of Daystar University, Kenya, were played. Following the streaming, a lively discussion led by Prof. Pavarala foregrounded various themes addressed by the plenary panel and how one might think through the complexities of transgressing the global/local dichotomy.
Day 2: Department Presentations
Day 2, 12th July, consisted of three presentations from DoC students followed by a live discussion led by Ms Sarwatay. The first presentation by Dr Ramakrishna Bhargav was on the shifting nature of urban journalism in pandemic and post-pandemic Hyderabad. This presentation was part of the IAMCR Nairobi main conference. The second talk was a discussion on research grants and their application process by Ratan Naga Deepika, a PhD scholar of the department. She recently received an honorary mention from IAMCR for her research project. The third and final presentation of the day was from Jharna Brahma, a doctoral student whose presentation consisted of a nine-minute video related to her research work from the inaugural IAMCR/UNICEF C4D grant in 2020.
Day 3: GSCC
Day 3 consisted of the GSCC and the screening of two IAMCR Flow 34 videos. One of the Flow 34 videos screened was by Amritha Mohan, PhD Student at the Department. GSCC started with the introduction of the two judges: Prof. TT Sreekumar, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad and Dr Madhavi Ravikumar from the Department. A total of seven papers that were selected for the judges’ round after two series of previous review were presented by PhD and PG students from various institutes like Symbiosis International, USC Annenberg, ESSEC Business School, IIM Kozhikode, Pondicherry University, IIM Indore, Mizoram University and the Department. Each presentation was followed by questions and remarks from the judges.
The winners of the competition were announced at the end of the session by Dr Ravikumar. Deepti Apte, Symbiosis International and her paper on ‘Capturing Image-Text modal relations in Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) through WhatsApp diaries’ earned the 1st prize and an award of INR 10,000/-. The 2nd place and INR 5,000/- was won by Hima Kriti, IIM Kozhikode; Mythily Nair, USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication; and Rachit Agarwal, ESSEC Business School who jointly presented their paper, ‘Art on Instagram: Conceptualising, creating, and disseminating hybrid materiality’. Coming in 3rd, Shatakshi Huddar and Kanchana MR, IIM Indore were awarded INR 3,000/- for their paper on ‘Restricting Access: The curious case of ‘step-up’ apps and platforms in India’. This award money was made possible by the generous IAMCR No Travel Event grant. The GSCC was also covered in the UoH Herald.
Day 4: Decolonizing Communication
Day 4 of the Event started with the screening of IAMCR Decolonizing Communication Plenary video, on 14th July 2021. The screening was followed by a live discussion led by Prof. Radhika Parameswaran, Indian University and A/Prof. Dr Sangeet Kumar, Denison University. Drawing from the article co-authored by the discussants titled ‘Charting an Itinerary for Postcolonial Communication and Media Studies’ the discussion facilitated a thought provoking Q&A session.
Day 5: Media Resistance
The virtual event closed with the IAMCR plenary on ‘Media Scholarship as Resistance’, chaired by Prof. Usha Raman, University of Hyderabad with Dr Leonardo Da Costa Custódio, Åbo Akademi University as the other live discussant. The plenary had talks by panellists Dr Sarah Burton, City University of London; Prof. Cherian George, Hong Kong Baptist University; Dr Sasha Costanza-Chock, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Prof Tanja Bosch, University of Cape Town and Dr Leonardo Da Costa Custódio, Åbo Akademi University. Following the panel, the live discussants interacted with the attendees and reflected on how we can resist hegemonies within academia. The five-day IAMCR Hyderabad Event concluded with closing remarks by Prof. Usha Raman. The IAMCR Hyderabad Event was successfully completed because of support received from the IAMCR leadership, including Executive Director Bruce Girard and Treasurer Dr Elske van de Fliert, everyone at the Department and the University as well as the judges, live discussants, and attendees.