Thursday, July 25, 2019

Call for papers: Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies

Call for papers: Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies


Documentary film mutations: new opportunities for social justice

Special issue CJCS 12.2 (Fall 2020)


1 October 2019: deadline for abstract submission

15 January 2020: deadline for full proposals (selected abstracts)


Guest Editors: Fernando Canet Polytechnic University of Valencia, Stefano Odorico Leeds Trinity University, Xoxé Soengas University of Santiago de Compostela


Cinema as a medium was born to capture aspects of reality. Such was the  initial purpose of the Lumière brothers at the end of the XIX century. Approximately thirty years later, Robert J. Flaherty portrayed realities far away from western societies, being the premier of his second feature film, Moana (1926), which inspired John Grierson to use the term ‘documentary’ for the first time in a cinematic context. Indeed, Grierson and his school were pioneers in using documentary film with social purposes, giving a voice to the victims of social injustices (Winston 1988). Nowadays, documentary film continues to  pursue its social role: the reporting of social issues like human rights violations, mass violence, immigration and refugee seeking, domestic and gender violence, gender discrimination, workers´ rights, education rights, poverty, or housing is still the main aim of engaged documentary filmmakers.


However, something has changed in the first two decades of the current century: thanks to the potentialities of emerging digital technologies, the documentary film genre is currently experimenting, testing and developing new forms in order to further pursue its original aim of documenting reality and presenting it to society. New forms of representation, strategies of communication, participation, mobilization, and methodologies for the evaluation of its social impact have emerged over this period. Nowadays we should read the documentary film form in relation to its synergies with (i) digital media, such as social media and big data; and (ii) complementary forms of representation like animation* (Formenti 2014; Roe 2013; Skoller 2011; Strøm 2015; Ward 2011), immersive experiences in Virtual Reality (de la Peña et al 2010; de la Peña 2017; Hardee 2016; McRoberts 2018; Nash 2018; Rose 2018; Shin and Biocca 2018) and interactive platforms (Aston and Gaudenzi 2012; Aston, Gaudenzi and Rose 2017; Miller and Allor 2016; Nash 2012, 2014; Smaill 2018; Aston and Odorico 2018).


This special issue is about how digital technology and alternative forms of representation can help documentary films, as socio-cultural products, to carry out their role of reporting human rights violations and social injustices, fostering a more “just society” (John Stuart Mill).




Therefore, the issue seeks to explore how the construction of meanings and their reception is modified by the new opportunities for documentary film, in the shape of alternative forms of representation and technological changes. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:


  • Animated documentary: the representation of the real through animation.
  • Web-documentary: interactive documentary practices (i-docs).
  • Immersive documentaries and VR filmmaking: the reconstruction of reality through virtual and augmented interactive environments and how people experience them.
  • Transmedia practices: documentary production in association with social media campaigns (promotion).
  • New forms of citizen engagement, participation and mobilization.
  • Methodologies of evaluation of the social impact of documentary films through social media analytics (quantitative and qualitative methodologies).
  • Using big data for monitoring reality and how these new contents/evidences can be included in interactive platforms. Strategies of data visualization.


Research articles should be 6,000 words in length (including notes and references), while Viewpoint articles should not exceed 3,000 words. The editors will carry out a preliminary selection of abstracts.



1 October 2019: deadline for abstracts


Abstract (maximum 500 words), title and selected bibliography, along with a 150-200 word author’s short bio (including your affiliation and contact information) should be sent to Fernando Canet (


15 October 2019: editors’ decision on selected abstracts

15 January 2020: deadline for full articles


Full articles, based on the selected abstracts, should be submitted on the Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies web platform by 15 January 2020, following the Notes for Contributors


1 May 2020: final decision letters

Fall 2020: issue published


All selected contributions will be subjected to double blind peer review, except for the Viewpoint articles, which will be evaluated by the Editors.