MEDIA - Medias and Territories

The general objective of the Media and Territories research area is to make an original contribution to developing digital humanities via a spatial and temporal analysis of information flows transmitted by the media (traditional and new media) in order to examine the territorialities that they transmit or reveal at different levels, from very local to very global, including regional and international.

This area was initially part of CIST’s territorial information programme, which was considered too vast and later subdivided into several more targeted areas. It became an autonomous CIST scientific focus area in late 2012 but its activity actually started in the early days of CIST in 2010 in the shape of the (fruitless) response to a project in the first wave of Equipex – Geomedia Mapper. The attainment of the ANR Corpus Géomédia in late 2012 endorsed the dense relations created within the initial group of about twenty researchers working on geography, computing and media and communication science and located in several research teams in different regions. Other researchers participate in the area and extend its perspectives, partly through targeted studies on the role played by the media in developing citizens’ processes and social movements (China, North Africa) and on establishing open databases relating to territory (France and Latin America).

Gaining a PEPS project, entitled City 2.0, has made it possible to broaden the thematic scope of the axis to include new issues, particularly related to territorial representations generated by digital traces available on the Web (Severo & Romele, 2014) and to researchers in new disciplines such as planning and philosophy.
The following years were dedicated to strengthening such interdisciplinary openness. New thematic strands were included: about representations linked to the processes of heritage development and about conflicting representations linked to territorial reappropriation. However, the thematic and methodological orientations of the first years were also maintained, in particular thanks to the H2020 Odycceus project (2017-2020), which extends the research tracks of theGéomédia ANR.

4 fields of study are prioritised:

Digital representations of territories

With the spread of digital technology in our societies, specialists in territorial sciences and communication have undertaken research on the analysis of data from the Web, social networks and more generally soft data. They are faced with a twofold question: do these new data potentially provide new insights into our spatial practices and territorial representations? Do they imply for the population the emergence of constraints and/or new services? To answer these questions, these researchers are developing tools and concepts that enable them to cross-reference geolocalised data, temporal information and semantic territorial attributes. For their part, companies, whether they be the giants of the Net with their various applications or those in the automotive sector (instantaneous mapping of the vehicle environment), mesh the territorial reality of a digital matrix whose daily uses are constantly expanding. Their methodological and strategic choices could impose dominant standards in the digital representation of territories and question the citizen debate on the question of an ethical use of these data. By associating the scientific work currently being carried out with that of the general public on participatory mapping approaches or alternative censuses, this theme wishes to illustrate the diversity of approaches (qualitative or quantitative, spatial analysis or digital ethnography) using examples based on different social network data sets.

Territorial struggles

The territory is rarely a neutral and isotropic surface, but very often an object of struggle between actors with divergent interests. Each actor involved in a territorial struggle mobilises images and texts, thus anchoring representations that are congruent with their objectives. The aim here is to focus more particularly on the creation and characteristics of these conflicting territorial representations. Whether it be the airport project at Notre-Dame des Landes, the nuclear waste landfill site at Bure, the occupation of Place de la République by Nuit debout in the spring of 2016 to be limited to a few emblematic French cases, communication, both physical and digital, is one of the essential aspects of the actors involved. The new arenas of online expression (social media, pure players, mailing lists, etc.) notably enable opponents of a given project to emancipate themselves from the traditional media and disseminate their actions and representations beyond militant circles. A session on Territorial struggles and social representations was organised during the CIST conference in March 2018 in Rouen. This will lead to the production of a thematic issue of the journal L’Espace politique in 2019.

Geopolitical representations produced by the press (Géomédia)

This sub-theme aims to propose a spatial and temporal analysis of the traditional media flows of information (especially the press) in order to question the territorialities that they convey or reveal at different levels, from the most local to the most global via the regional and international. This theme was initially part of the CIST's Territorial Information programme, which was recognised as being too broad and was later subdivided into several more targeted areas. After a (unsuccessful) response to a project of the first wave of EquipEx - Geomedia Mapper, the axis has invested in theANR Corpus Géomédia ; the work started in this framework continues today thanks to the H2020 Odycceus European project. Other researchers participate and broaden the perspectives, notably with targeted studies on the role of the media: in the development of citizen processes and social movements (China, North Africa); in the development of open databases concerning the territory (France and Latin America); by comparing the functioning of traditional media with the new media, notably in the processes ofagenda-setting and the formation of public opinion.

Cultural and media imaginaries of the territory

This is an emerging sub-theme within the Media and territories axis, fuelled by recent work and by the arrival of new laboratories in the CIST, notably the EA GERiiCO. It aims to question the way in which contemporary cultural and media productions, whether fictional or documentary, heritage development processes, major cultural events, contribute to the circulation, stabilisation or even stereotyping of a territory. Far from being homogeneous and univocal, the imaginations of a territory take shape in cultural and media productions and make sense to their public. Moreover, the research carried out focuses on memory and heritage representations (particularly from a territorial point of view) and aims to highlight and study the changes generated in this sector by digital devices and related practices. The originality of this approach consists in making the concepts of culture and heritage more inclusive by considering them in the plural: the work of the theme thus makes it possible to distinguish, for example, citizens' memories, memories of transnational communities, migrant heritage, oral practices, intangible corporate heritage, etc. - each of these leads to specific heritage processes, to which digital devices bring new formalisations and representations, new constraints and new dynamics.


Contracts developed within the theme

Groupe Internet et territoires

This working group, created as part of CIST’s Media and Territories scientific research area, is to encourage meetings between CIST researchers working on the subject (mostly geographers) and to put them in contact with other researchers (and other disciplines) working in the same field in France and abroad. One of the group’s first goals will be to produce a collective publication. The initial approach will be very broad, including: – Defining territory using data available on the web (opendata, WebGIS, data-sharing platforms, etc.) – Redefining territory and creating new territories using the web and web 2.0 (urbanism 2.0, territorial networks on the web, relationship between geographic proximities and media proximities, etc.) – Identifying territorial entities and the relations between them using media data available on the web (geomedia, etc.) This list is not exhaustive. Despite leaving the horizon open in this first phase, we will exclude studies on “virtual territories” and concentrate on definitions of physical territories.

Social media and the digitization of news and discussion fora are having far-reaching effects on the way individuals and communities communicate, organize, and express themselves. Can the information circulating on these platforms be tapped to better understand and analyze the enormous problems facing our contemporary society? Could this help us to better monitor the growing number of social crises due to cultural differences and diverging world-views? Would this facilitate early detection and perhaps even ways to resolve conflicts before they lead to violence? H2020 Odycceus project, launched in February 2017, answers all these questions affirmatively. It will develop the conceptual foundations, methodologies, and tools to translate this bold vision into reality and demonstrate its power in a large number of cases.

Financed through theFrench National Research Agency (ANR) Corpus Programme. The activities of the ANR Corpus Géomédia, which officially started on November 1st, 2012, can be consulted in the project’s research blog, which acts as both a link between researchers and an external communication tool.

This project aims to provide specialized expertise on megadata, especially on web 2.0 (O’Reilly, 2005), linked to territorial data and information. After identifying the data sets available, a concrete, operational methodology will be proposed to process them with more traditional territorial data sets. Lastly, the project will make recommendations on processing this type of data.

This project explores the significance and role of soft data in making public decisions regarding town planning and management. Given the abundant data, the project will make a state of the art of existing data and develop a shared debate on methodological questions (“digital methods”) and theoretical issues (relationship between the digital and the physical) linked to using these data in urban policies.

en_GB