UMass Boston News

The X Annual Social Theory Forum

The X Annual Social Theory Forum

Critical Theory and the Politics of Visual Representation

April 24–25, 2013

There is no point in arguing about the centrality of visual imagery in contemporary culture. We have been living in a world of images and spectacles created by the culture industries (from photography and film, to television, multimedia, cyberculture, and so on) for many decades now. We are all aware that visual images are technologically constructed by different image-producers with their own agendas, codes and ideologies, and that different audiences decode the visual landscape according to their own subject positions. But we also know that those who benefit from the rules of visual representation tend to constrain meaning potentials by favoring certain interpretations or readings over others, sometimes creating powerful visual projects that end up promoting sexism, authoritarianism, racism and/or homophobia in the larger public. Thus, in today’s image-saturated culture the need to develop a critical approach to the politics of visual representation --what some scholars call critical visual literacy -- is more urgent than ever before.


In order to explore this growing social and cultural complexity at the global level, with its continuous multiplication of actors, meanings, values and messages, the Social Theory Forum will devote its tenth edition to the topic Critical Theory and the Politics of Visual Representation.

Please click here to download the official conference program.

Download the flyer here.

The two-day international conference is sponsored by the Sociology Department, the Women’s Studies Department, the Communication Department, the Asian Studies Program, the Applied Linguistics Department and the Office of the Provost at University of Massachusetts at Boston, and by the Women’s Research Center at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China. It features both invited and submitted papers and presentations, as well as audiovisual materials.

About the Social Theory Forum
Department of Sociology
University of Massachusetts Boston

The Social Theory Forum (STF) is an annual conference organized jointly by the sociology and other departments, interested faculty and students at University of Massachusetts Boston, in order to creatively explore, develop, promote, and publish cross-disciplinary social theory in an applied and critical framework. STF offers faculty and students of UMass Boston and other area colleges and universities an interactive medium to discuss various aspects of the way in which particular theoretical traditions can be relevant to present everyday issues, as well as to the current state and the future of social theory.

 STF’s goals are:

  • To critically engage with and evaluate classical and contemporary social theories in a cross-disciplinary and comparative cross-cultural framework in order to develop new integrative theoretical structures and practices;
  • To foster individual and collective self-reflexivity in exploring social theories in global and world-historical contexts to aid people effectively address social problems;
  • To foster an interactive and dialogical learning experience and research in theory within and across faculty, students, and community divides on and off campus; and
  • To foster exchange of ideas open to constructive and integrative exploration of diverse and conflicting viewpoints, modes of thinking, and world-views.


Organizing Committee

Siamak Movahedi
Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston

Elora Chowdhury
Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, UMass Boston

Temitope Oriola
Assistant Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston

Lakshmi Srinivas
Assistant Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston

Alexander Des Forges
Associate Professor of Chinese, UMass Boston

Rajini Srikanth
Professor of English, UMass Boston

Kenneth Laclan
Chair, Department of Communication, UMass Boston

Zhang Wu
Assistant Professor of Political Science, UMass Boston

Darren Kew
Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution, UMass Boston

Glenn Jacobs
Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston

Jorge Capetillo-Ponce
Associate Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit two weeks prior to the event.