October 25, 2019
University of Windsor, Faculty of Law,
School of Creative Arts, and
Communication, Film, and Media
We invite submissions from scholars in a broad range of disciplines and encourage submissions from Ph.D. students, Post-Doctoral students, and Junior Faculty (appointed in the last five years as of October 2019). Limited funding may be available for selected participants to cover some of the travel or accommodation costs.
Selected papers will be considered for publication in a special issue of an academic journal subject to the journal’s peer-review process.
This conference seeks to bring together scholars from various disciplines including but not limited to law, communication, media, the arts, geography studies, and political science, to reflect on the challenges posed by the regulation of digital media platforms as liminal spaces that undermine clear distinctions between public and private. Topics might include social media, big data, and smart cities, personal data sovereignty, algorithmic discrimination, cybersecurity, freedom of expression, and ubiquitous state and corporate surveillance. To address these disparate topics, our conference asks participants to address how the work of Marshall McLuhan on media and space —physical, virtual, public, private, borders, boundaries, environments and anti-environments— may be a point of departure and/or arrival to inform current and future regulatory/legal frameworks addressing digital media? What approaches to media and space help explain contradictions between contemporary globalization (of economies, cultures, technologies) and reassertion of national sovereignty and border controls? What is the relationship between changing media ecosystems and legal systems? Does Canada afford a unique geopolitical vantage point to explore these issues?
In her presentation, Elaine Kahn will explore the relationship of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Marshall McLuhan through an examination of their correspondence, which has never been studied as a discrete entity. Her book, Been Hoping We Might Meet Again collects their entire correspondence from 1968 to 1980 when television ruled and “new electronic interdependence” recreated a planet “in the image of a global village.” The two men were at the forefront of discussions about critical issues of globalization, especially the political uses of media, at a time when globalization was not yet a recognized keyword in the literature. All this is reflected in the correspondence. Both were experts at media manipulation and recognized that in the other. McLuhan was teaching the world about the global village at the same time as Trudeau was helping Canada find its place and meanings in it. Even a cursory glance at the news today shows how much their work is still relevant and needs to be built upon.
Special guest speaker Andrew McLuhan will trace out an exploration drawing a comparison between our past -of the regulation and creation of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States by the Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) and subsequent creation of the FDA- to our present Wild West of unrestrained technological innovation, to imagine a possible, more considered and deliberate way forward. Andrew will also discuss his family legacy as well as “The Relationship of Environment to Anti-Environment” manuscript to be donated to the University, which his grandfather Marshall McLuhan originally published in The University of Windsor Review.
Professor Darroch’s presentation, titled “Border Environments: Theorising Media and Culture in the Windsor-Detroit Borderlands, 1943-1946” will trace Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that a border is not “a connection but an interval of resonance” to the mid-1940s, when he lived and taught in the Canadian border city of Windsor, Ontario, which sits opposite Detroit, Michigan. McLuhan corresponded and collaborated with both Wyndham Lewis, who was also lecturing in Windsor/Detroit and Siegfried Giedion, who was touring North America. Lewis and Giedion would each have a decisive influence on McLuhan’s emergent theorisation of mediated cultural environments. McLuhan’s experience in Windsor-Detroit can be seen as providing a context in which his concept of a “global village” began to take shape, not simply as a utopian sphere anticipating a culturally harmonious landscape, but rather a sphere in which we are increasingly involved with each other whether we like it or not. Through their capacity to cause mutual irritation, borders are collective spaces in which cultural differences must be acknowledged.
Pascale Chapdelaine, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor
Michael Darroch, Associate Professor, School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor
Vincent Manzerolle, Assistant Professor, Communication, Media & Film, University of Windsor
Philip Morais, JD candidate 2021, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor