Manoj Godara, Chandigarh, December 16: The XIII International Conference on “The Virtual Transformation of the Public Sphere” started today at Hotel Parkview here with the keynote address by Prof. Nicholas D. Mirzoeff, Professor in the department of media and communication studies, New York University, USA focusing on the virtual transformation of the public sphere in the postmodern globalised world. He presented his views on the right to look prior to virtuality and examined the deployment of ‘global insurgency’ by the US military and its allies as the present form of the military in the industrial phase of virtuality.
The conference is being held by the forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda in collaboration with department of English and Cultural Studies of the Panjab University.
On this occasion special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Theory and two books: Abraham Lincoln without Borders edited by Prof. William D. Pederson, International Lincoln Centre, Louisiana State University (Shreveport) USA and Democratic Culture: Historical and Philosophical Essays edited by Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, Department of Philosophy, Columbia University, New York, USA, were released.
Three parallel sessions based on various sub-themes like Theorizing Public Sphere, New Media and Public Sphere, Virtual versus the Real and Representations of Public Sphere were held, where scholars presented their papers deliberating on the blurring lines between the public sphere and the private sphere and its impact on the postmodern world of technological advancement. The papers brought out the issues of cyberspace infected with various products of vested interests.
The pitfalls of media that thrive on commodity culture and misrepresentations were deliberated upon. The issues pertaining to the modernist paradigm of public sphere were also discussed. The scholars pondered upon the illusion generated and sustained by media which is responsible for gross debunking of individual values and crisis in the area of common interest. Also, the condition of civic engagement before and after the emergence of the internet sphere, the re-unification of the traditional Zo Hnahthlak tribe which has become a political site in the cyberspace, taking facebook as one of the platforms where virtual activism leads to some real repercussions in the public sphere and analysing the limits to reach an efficacy of virtual activism, and virtual platforms with a special reference to the use of blogs and political websites were some of the other concerns that emerged in the presentations. Prof. M.L. Raina, former Professor, department of English, Panjab University chaired the inaugural session.