To those members of the international community who are considering travel to the U.S. for participation in this biennial conference:
We are writing to express our condemnation of the U.S. policy banning entrance to the U.S. from certain targeted Muslim-majority countries. We recognize that this policy affects many travelers who would like to attend this international gathering but who are currently prevented from doing so. We strongly believe that our conversations will be diminished by the absence of our colleagues from these countries, and stand in firm opposition to this policy.
We do, however, believe in the importance of holding a public conference and intellectual space for debate about this and related issues in the United States at this moment in history. This is firmly rooted in our values as an organization expressed through our focus on world religions and their mediation via the world’s cultures and media organizations. The theme of this conference (Public Scholarship and Intervention) is especially conducive to the kinds of conversations and actions that are most needed at this time both in the U.S. and under other repressive regimes around the world. By holding this conference, we actively defend our right as academics from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds to build porous spaces of deep reflection on the problems confronting our world. Moreover, we believe that holding this conference underscores the importance of holding space for intellectual debate about the policies of this administration, addressing directly the causes at the heart of why scholars might boycott travel to the US.
We recognize that you are faced with an important decision regarding whether or not to participate in this conference or in a broader boycott of academic conferences in the U.S. We offer our support and reassurance to those who are prevented from attending the conference in person, or who decide that they will not attend the conference in solidarity with them. We are currently working on arrangements to video conference in those speakers who are unable to attend in person, and will be making conference activities available via live stream for those who cannot or will not attend. We welcome you to view this conference as a site for collective action and intellectual exchange, and we also respect your right to choose not to attend so as to stand in solidarity with those colleagues who may be forbidden or anxious about attending.
As you may be aware, the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture meets every two years, and therefore we are currently in discussion regarding the location for the conference to be held in the summer of 2020. The location of the next conference will be announced on this website shortly after the end of the 2018 meeting. We hope that you will join us in person or virtually. We believe that we are only able to achieve excellence through the inclusion of all, and therefore we believe in securing the rights of all for fair participation.
Members of the Host Committee located in Boulder/Denver, CO, USA:
Dr. Stewart Hoover, Dr. Debbie Whitehead, Dr. Nabil Echaibi, Dr. Jeffrey Mahan, Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark, Dr. Monica Emerich, Kristin Peterson, and Erin Ashbaugh
Dr. Mia Lovheim, President, ISMRC
Dr. Johanna Sumiala, Vice President and Program Planner, ISMRC