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Call for Papers: Character Assassination in Theory and Practice!

Call for Papers: Character Assassination in Theory and Practice

Host: Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP)

Location: George Mason University (Arlington Campus), Arlington, Virginia

Dates: March 3-5, 2017

Submission Deadline: January 6, 2017

Character assassination (CA) is the deliberate destruction of an individual’s reputation or credibility through character attacks. CA techniques include negative campaigning, spreading rumors, anonymous online defamation, and many other tactics. All of these are common tactics in contemporary politics, but character attacks can also be targeted against celebrities, athletes, scientists and others with a high public profile. Attackers target the private lives, values, and very identity of their victims in an attempt to discredit them and subject them to scorn and ridicule. Character assassination has been a widespread method of power struggle for centuries.

As a field of scholarship, the study of character assassination has been experiencing a remarkable academic renaissance. Researchers and practitioners from different fields such as political science, political communications, sociology, psychology and history have all been interested in the phenomenon of CA. However, a coherent methodology and vocabulary to study CA in a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary perspective have yet to be developed. At this conference, we aim to exchange ideas and gather suggestions to move towards this goal.

We invite scholars to submit research and works in progress which will discuss CA from a great variety of disciplinary and cultural angles. We expect each presentation to be 20 minutes long. We welcome both theoretical work and case studies. We are open to papers that examine both the process and outcomes of CA and communication strategies for neutralizing CA

Suggested Topics:

Negative campaigning and advertising in US elections
Negative campaigning and advertising around the world
Ad hominem attacks in political debate
CA as psychological warfare
Cultural differences in strategies and methods of CA
Rumors and their electoral consequences
Celebrities in CA: from comedy to smear campaigns
CA in social media (social networks)
CA, reputation management, and image repair
Memory erasing, silencing and history distortion
Visual distortion online
Legal aspects of libel, slander and defamation in politics
CA in historical perspective
To submit to the conference: Please submit a 250-word abstract of your paper by the deadline listed above. Email the abstract as an attachment to Dr. Jennifer Keohane,


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