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Call for Papers 'Playing Politics: Media Platforms Making Worlds'

We are living through an age in which social media platforms have given way to entirely new forms of politics and politicking. It is no exaggeration to say: there is a before and after social media.

More than just a digital public sphere, our (often playful and deeply personal) interaction with social media platforms led to the construction of a unique social world in which the personal and the political, the digital and the analogue intermesh.

But this world is not just the result of the communication technologies that are now quite literally in the palm of our hand; it is due to the forms of play were developed in response to social media interactions. Actively exploring the affordances of social media platforms, different forms of play have stretched the boundaries and possibilities of what is possible through these platforms. This has given way to forms of politicking that escape the known classifications of how we understand politics or play. From dark play strategies and carefully planned disinformation campaigns to radically playful communal online identity constructions with an emancipatory aim, in the past two decades we have seen a form of play emerging that explores the affordances of social media platforms to gain political traction and to create new worlds.

With Playing Politics we aim to develop a conceptual and media historical framework that can help us understand the emergence of play politics and gauge the worlds that it has given rise to. At the core of the book is the contention that the connection between play and politics is by no means coincidental. Both play and politics constitute worlds; that is to say, they both create a field or realm in which its participants explore unknown possibilities, creatively using whatever is at hand to construct a collective world, and explore the social, emotional, and even ontological consequences of that world. This is a deeply engaging activity in which participants tend to become deeply invested in these worlds, making the rest of reality seem temporarily less important.

In Playing Politics we contend that the affinity between the creative activities of play and politics has now become a matter of great urgency. The digital and social media revolution has completed the union of politics and play in ways now ascertainable empirically. Social communication technologies have introduced powerful affordances that affect our manners of playing and our manners of engaging in politics. These have become enmeshment in our social and political world.

The aim of this edited collection is to provide an insightful analysis of our current conjuncture by providing a deeper understanding of play politics. Bringing together philosophical inquiry into the concepts of play, politics and worlding or world-making with a media theoretical and cultural historical reconstruction of the emergence of the post-digital political world we live in, this volume allows us to understand how play has become a crucial component of contemporary politics.  

We invite interested parties to submit an abstract (300 words) for a chapter of 5000 words. The submission deadline for the abstract is Friday, January 13, 2023. Contributors will be notified of further details on February 10. A first draft of the full chapter should be ready by Friday, June 2, 2023. On June 15 and 16, 2023 we will host a workshop at Leiden University during which all authors will have theopportunity to discuss their pre-submitted first drafts.

Possible topics for contributions could be:

  • An inquiry into the affinity between play and politics on a conceptual level, and/or in relation to a concrete case study.
  • A media theoretical or cultural analysis of play in relation to the politics and media platforms in the past two decades.
  • Algorithms and play and their impact on contemporary politics
  • Dark play, trolling and organized online political campaigns that have used forms of play.
  • An inquiry into the affordances of social media and the way they enable new forms of play and politicking.
  • An inquiry in how both play and politics construct worlds and what this means in times of social media platforms.

For more information, send an e-mail to playingpolitics@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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