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Call for chapters – The Free Speech Wars

Monday, 11 Mar 2019

We seek essays to be included in a short book addressing the proliferation and weaponisation of “Free speech” in wider culture wars. We are interested especially in questions like: who gets to exercise free speech and who does not? What happens when powerful voices think they have been silenced? Why do some issues become sites of free speech battles and what are the consequences of this? How do the spaces and structures of ‘speech’ – mass media, the internet, the lecture theatre, the public event, the political rally – shape this debate? And how and why have concepts such as no-platforming, trigger warnings, safe spaces become such flashpoints in this argument?

We envisage separate sections, so please direct your writing toward an area such as:

Historical context: how has this issue operated in the past, and what can this tell us about contemporary events? How have particular topics in history become sites of free speech and what does this tell us about how history has been weaponised?

International comparisons: how has this debate played out in other countries? Who are the free speech warriors around the world and why and how have they been ‘silenced’? How do British battles around free speech mimic, draw from or push against international examples?

Words and language: what topics have become particular battlegrounds for freedom of speech? How have ideas about silencing mapped onto particular intellectual, academic or ideological debates? How has the language of demanding or denying freedom of speech evolved?

Politics: how does the demand for freedom of speech map onto the political spectrum? How are political parties dealing with this issue? What bigger political schisms and fractures are exposed by battles about who gets to speak and what they are allowed to say?

Essays should be:

  • 2000-4000 words
  • Written for a public audience but with an intellectual grounding
  • General rather than overly specific – can be based in a case study, a particular moment, event or personal experience, but should have something to say to the bigger debate
  • Conceptual/polemic rather than academic in tone and approach

Schedule:

April 5th 2019 – Abstracts (chapter title and 300 word abstract) submitted to: [email protected]

May 30th 2019 – Feedback and invitation of full chapters

July 14th 2019 – Full chapters due

Spring/Summer 2020 – Publication

The book will be edited by Charlotte Lydia Riley and published (subject to peer review and approval) by Manchester University Press in their forthcoming Contested Cultures series of short topical books.

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