IASS Election: joint candidacy statement of incumbents, Kristian Bankov (Secretary General), Paul Cobley (President) and Daina Teters (Treasurer)


Kristian Bankov, Secretary-General

Kristian Bankov is Professor in Semiotics at New Bulgarian University and Director of the Southeast European Center for Semiotic Studies. His interests in semiotics started during the early nineties when he was studying in Bologna, following the courses of Ugo Volli and Umberto Eco. He graduated in 1995 and teaches semiotic courses at New Bulgarian University. In 2000 he defended his PhD in Helsinki under the supervision of Eero Tarasti. In 2006 he became Associate Professor in Semiotics, and he became Professor in 2011. His major interests initially were in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of Bergson, and existential semiotics. Then he oriented his research interests toward sociosemiotics and identity. Since 2005, Kristian has studied consumer culture; in the last several years, his major interests are toward new media and digital culture. He has written four books and is active internationally, with numerous articles in Bulgarian, English, and Italian; with Paul Cobley he founded the series Semiotics and Its Masters (de Gruyter); since 2006 he has directed the organization of the international Early-Fall School of Semiotics (EFSS).

Paul Cobley, President

Paul Cobley is Professor in Language and Media at Middlesex University, UK, and has been publishing in the field of semiotics and contributing to its administration for nearly thirty years. He is the author/editor of a number of defining books, including The Communication Theory Reader (1996), Introducing Semiotics (1997; with Litza Jansz), The American Thriller (2000), Communication Theories 4 vols. (2006), The Routledge Companion to Semiotics (2009), Realism for the 21st Century: A John Deely Reader (2009), “Semiotics Continues to Astonish”: Thomas A. Sebeok and the Doctrine of Signs (2011), From First to Third via Cybersemiotics (2011; with Torkild Thellefsen and Bent Sørensen), A More Developed Sign: Interpreting the Work of Jesper Hoffmeyer (2012; with Donald Favareau and Kalevi Kull), Theories and Models of Communication (2013; with Peter Schulz), Narrative 2nd edn (2014), Cultural Implications of Biosemiotics (2016) among others. He co-edits one of the leading semiotic journals, Social Semiotics, and is associate editor of Cybernetics and Human Knowing. He also sits on the editorial board of fifteen journals and three book series in semiotics. He is co-series editor (with Kalevi Kull) of Semiotics, Communication and Cognition (de Gruyter Mouton) and co-editor (with Peter J. Schulz) of the multi-volume Handbooks of Communication Sciences (de Gruyter). Paul Cobley has been Executive Committee member of the IASS for the UK since 1999. He is secretary of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and in 2014 was inaugurated as 9th Thomas A. Sebeok Fellow of the Semiotic Society of America.

Daina Teters, Treasurer

Daina Teters is Professor of Cultural Semiotics and Philosophy at the Latvian Academy of Culture, Riga. She is the Latvian representative on the Executive Committee of the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS/AIS) and also functions as the association’s Treasurer. As a researcher, she has been engaged at the University of Salzburg, Austria, at the Technical University of Berlin, at the University of Bremen in Germany and (under the Fulbright Program) at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Her scholarly interests include the history and methodology of science, focusing attention on semiotics, and the semiotics of culture. In recent years, her research and academic work has centred on thinking and art strategies of the 20th century as well as the semiotics of space and time. Fluent in seven languages, she has lectured widely throughout Europe, and the West Coast, frequently appearing for scholarly presentations on radio and television. Since 2005, as Head of the International Research and Arts Project MetaMind, she has organized and found funding for five major international conferences in Latvia and elsewhere worldwide, with five official languages devoted to theoretically hard-to-grasp issues. With all of these projects based on semiotics as an interdisciplinary approach, these conferences fell under the auspices of the IASS/AIS. Daina Teters has published more than two hundred scholarly articles, in addition to the books Metamorphoses of the Mind: Out of One’s Mind, Losing One’s Mind, Light-mindedness, Mindlessness (2008), Metamorphoses of the World: Traces, Shadows, Reflections, Echoes and Metaphors (2010), and Metamorphoses of the Absolute (2018).


The team above, when elected in 2014, established and have since met the following priorities of their candidature statements:

  • raising funds for the IASS, through expanded membership and increased activity; starting with an almost empty bank account in 2014, the team has since raised over 20,000 Euros to fund IASS activities.
  • raising the profile of the IASS and semiotics, as well as encouraging collaboration, through a heightened presence on social media; since Sofia 2014, the team has established IASS presence on social media such as Facebook and, through regular and systematic posting, has raised the social media profile of the Association in general compared to its extremely low profile in 2014.
  • using communication networks to enhance connections and knowledge about ongoing research and to promote, in particular
    • empirical research in semiotics
    • impact of semiotic research

The team has conducted surveys of such research and is preparing to implement a logging of major international semiotics projects.

  • encouraging collaborations between geographical regions where there are strengths in semiotics and other regions (for example, East Asia, South America, Africa); the team have extended and simplified the ‘auspices’ criteria of the IASS and established collaboration with a number of conferences globally (e.g. in Nanjing, Bucharest, Shanghai, Bogota, etc.) as well as proposing, promoting and collaborating on the 14th World Congress of the IASS in Buenos Aires.
  • setting up an IASS postgraduate network in semiotics, to share practice and support among early career researchers in the field and to monitor job prospects for young scholars; the PG network will be set up in Buenos Aires and will work in association with the IASS Collegium http://iass-ais.org/collegium/ set up in 2017 to promote and support early career researchers, those seeking promotion to posts involving semiotics and those seeking to apply for grants for semiotic projects.
  • forging partnerships with cognate traditional academic organisations and commercial organisations/potential funders; this has begun with the extension of the ‘auspices’, above, but firmer initiatives need to be consolidated in the near future.
  • ensuring that members receive regular active communications (e.g. emails, alerts, newsletters) from the organisation, rather than passive communications (website postings); the team have ensured a constant flow of communications for members, both from the webmaster and from the President and Secretary-General.
  • negotiating, from a position of strength, with the publisher de Gruyter in order to gain price concessions on semiotic publications for IASS members; before the end of 2014, the team set up a system with de Gruyter whereby membership of the Association was rewarded by €150 of de Gruyter publications (Standard or Group membership) or €450 of de Gruyter publications (Gold membership). See http://iass-ais.org/membership-information/
  • negotiating with the editor of Semiotica and de Gruyter to gain an impact factor for the journal; this process has begun, but takes at least three years.
  • meeting with the editors of other major semiotics journals to ensure SSCI listings for them; after we set up the Journals Fair, first run at the13th World Congress, a number of journals have embarked on this process.
  • making the voting processes in the IASS clearer for members; no candidacy statements had appeared in respect of IASS Bureau elections until Paul Cobley presented one in 2014. The team will ensure that the democratic process established that year will be continued in 2019 and the team will endeavour to ensure that it continues every five years in perpetuity.
  • making the major decisions of the IASS (for example, on future congresses) as transparent as possible; in consonance with the regular communication and with the reform of voting (see both, above) the Association has been committed to transparency. Voting and tendering for Congress hosting, in particular, have been fully open, assisted by direct mailing.
  • setting up an archive devoted to the IASS and an Open Access repository for members’ publications; the Association has surveyed members and has a clear idea of what is desired and required in this spher As a preliminary measure, the team has established the IASS publications series, provided with ISSN and DOI numbers, for the Proceedings of the IASS World congresses. On the IASS web page are gathered the volumes of the last five World congresses (http://iass-ais.org/iass-publications/proceedings-of-the-world-congresses/). However, the long-term endeavour represents a mammoth task which would need to be continued into the next five years of the Association’s work.

In addition to meeting the above proposals from the 2014 candidacy statements, among the other achievements of the team have been

  • instituting of the Journals Fair, aimed at early career researchers at World Congresses
  • establishing of an IASS bank account on a business footing
  • establishing the legal status of the IASS in French law (special thanks to Anne Hénault)
  • institution of the Greimassian translation award (2019)
  • setting up of special interest groups (2019)

If elected for the next five years, the team would be committed to maintaining/extending all of the above, but also

  • progressing our activities, including Congresses, to more continents
  • enhancing the profile of the Proceedings volumes of IASS publications
  • extending the activities of the Collegium to facilitate established semioticians in assisting less established semioticians
  • instituting semiotics as a category among grant-awarding and other public bodies such as UNESCO
  • extending social media activities of the Association
  • gaining more SSCI listings for semiotics journals
  • introducing awards, scholarships and prizes aimed at early career researchers and scholars from different regions

For a discursive account, see Bankov and Cobley (2016): https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/semi.2016.2016.issue-211/sem-2016-0093/sem-2016-0093.xml

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