Podcasting Disruptive Voices. New Narratives of Race, Gender & Sexuality
Inspired by Marshall MacLuhan’s pivotal statement that “the medium is the message,” this volume seeks to explore how the emergence of new media has challenged public discourse and epistemological approaches on societal issues in France. While we welcome contributions on new platforms like webseries, online newsletters, YouTube channels, and blogs, the present study will mainly focus on podcasts, which, with their growing popularity, have become a cultural phenomenon in France. In the same way that increased accessibility of the video format supported the feminist and the gay and lesbian movements in the 1970s, by allowing these underrepresented subjects to show images of themselves and politicize their personal lives, podcasts are now considered the platform of choice to give a voice to invisible bodies and communities. Through this medium, minority groups challenge gender normativity, embrace intersectional feminism, and unveil France’s deep-rooted racism (whether systemic, casual, or stereotypical) and its biases. As the title of the section — recently dedicated to this media form in Les Inrocks (14/10/2020) — suggests, podcasts “f[ont] entendre des voix qui n’ont pas été entendues” (allow us to hear voices that have not yet been heard) (23-25).
Podcasting is relatively new in France — there are about 1,500 French language podcasts on Apple Podcasts. According to the Bello Collective, “86% of the podcast studios founded in France in the last three years are owned by women or have at least one female founder. 35% of the top 200 podcasts on France’s Apple Podcast charts are produced or hosted by women, compared to 10% in the United States.” These numbers speak volumes about the need for women to tell their stories without being diminished, mansplained, interrupted, or sexually harassed. Rather than defending themselves and placed in a position of reaction, they find with podcasting the possibility of fully taking action in the building of new forms of knowledge. By giving more space to subjective experiences, podcasts challenge the so-called neutrality of traditional media and academic research, which too often reflect the dominant viewpoint that is one of white, cisgender, and heterosexual men. The plurality of voices in podcasts offers a long-needed exploration of issues around race, gender, and sexuality that disrupts traditional and ideological assumptions about black, brown, cis, trans, and non-binary bodies.
These new forms of knowledge derive from a production model that participates in the democratization of audio content and ownership. With lower production costs, podcasters have had more flexibility to design and host original programs free from the constraints imposed by traditional radio. Independently produced or developed by studios such as Louie Media (2018), House of Podcasts (2018), Nouvelles Écoutes (2016) and Binge Audio (2016), these new kinds of podcasts, coined as native podcasts, disrupt conventional boundaries by creating a continuum between professional and amateur, formal and informal, theory and practice, informational and artistic. In doing so, podcasts renegotiate power dynamics between podcast hosts, guests, and the audience, while building a renewed sense of camaraderie, if not of community. Thanks to their unrestricted creative freedom, some of them further experiment with sound and storytelling techniques that provide an aesthetic, literary, and poetic dimension to the contents they elaborate.
We invite proposals for papers in English that approach French podcasting and new media (webseries, newsletters, youtube channels, blogs) from an intersectional perspective. Papers may reflect upon, but are not limited to:
- The impact of intersectionality on the French podcasting industry
- The deconstruction of white privilege through women-produced/hosted podcasts
- Rethinking race and gender
- Influence of American scholarship on postcolonialism, gender, and race
- Influence of American social movements BLM/TimesUp/MeToo
- Aesthetic innovation: Storytelling, sound, montage
- Disruption of established “canons”
- Reclaiming space through voice
- Performance, voice and “visibility”
- Destabilizing the status-quo / breaking hierarchies
- Activism through podcasting
- Language and performative power / “le pouvoir de la langue”
- Personal/collective identity
- Production of knowledge: new voices vs. traditional media
- Deconstructing heteronormativity
- Decolonization / Decoloniality
- Minorities and issues of identity
- Accessibility and democratization
- Collaboration, comradeship, and sorority
Please send proposals for papers (500 words) with a title and short bibliography along with a short biographical statement (200 words) to Audrey Brunetaux (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Thomas Muzart (email@example.com) by March 31, 202.