Semiofest, Mumbai invites you to explore the notion of societal, business and branding change by asking you how semiotics and related methodologies can help us navigate the spirit of accelerating change at work and in the world. We live in a chaotic and shape-shifting world today. Artificial Intelligence and chatbots, a multi-polar world and rise of autocratic leaders are some of the forces changing societies in unpredictable ways. In business, disruptive business models such as UBER and Airbnb have scaled at break-neck speed. Digital technologies and media platforms allow information to circulate instantaneously. Alt-facts, post-truth, the bombardment of messaging through many digital platforms, have led to more content but arguably, less meaning.

‘Metanoia’ is the name for acts of resilience and adaptive learning in times of turbulence and opportunity. It is indeed adaptive evolution that brings a more ‘meaningful’ approach to dealing with changing situations than holding on to well-established ways that are in imminent danger of being rendered obsolete.

Semiotics as a discipline is uniquely placed to provide perspective and deeper insight into the workings of these forces how they change meanings.

It can help brand and business owners, and organizations to reshape their cultures, their brands, communication and their people, to better grapple with change. We invite you to share your experiences working of how you used research to identify and model change or have helped your clients identify or prepare to deal with cultural shifts using semiotics and semiotics related methodologies. We would particularly welcome contributions in the following areas:

Understanding Change

The forces of change impact societies, cultures, categories, brands and products unpredictably. Identifying the signs of change early helps mitigate risk and maximize opportunity. R-D-E is a well-established semiotic methodology for understanding change. What else? What’s new? How can semiotics thinking track soft signals and bring to Trends/Foresight work for products, brands, and categories?

Embracing Change

Companies and brands need to adapt to changing situations and environments in order to thrive. This requires them to reposition brands, bring new product lines, alter communication tonality, bring in fresh narratives, talk new languages, adapt organization cultures. belief systems. How can Semiotics enable companies to embrace and embed change to redesign, reconstruct, or even ‘recode’ their systems?

Embodying Change

Some lead change and act as change-makers. They are the visionaries who seek to make a different world. They take on the conventional wisdom that causes organizations, products, and processes to stay stuck or decline, to bring about a new way of thinking and doing. How can Semioticians assist or even partner change-makers? And what can the semiotic enterprise do to inspire or to pioneer change?

Submission Guidelines

We invite case studies, methodological innovations, opinion pieces, theoretical developments in understanding, embracing and embodying change. As in any Semiofest, we welcome a broad range of contributions across any aspect of applied semiotics from commercial practices of design, advertising, branding and new media to the realms of education, welfare, and social enterprise. Please submit us your proposal of no more than 500 words in length by May 11th, 2018. In your proposal please do clearly indicate:

1. Your name, organization and job title.
2. The title of your presentation
3. Whether you would like to present a case study, a position, a methodological innovation, or some other kind of format
4. Academic research/critique a 300 word abstract of your presentation
5. Three takeaways the Semiofest audience will benefit from in your work

Mumbai: A narrative of rupture, encroachment and rebirth.

The Semiofest, at its core is a celebration of diversity - a festival of signs, and symbolic artifacts of the evolving culture that we inhabit. Not only is it an attempt to make sense of the world we live in, but a document of the evolving methodologies we propose to understand it in all its ephemeral brilliance. What better icon of change and cultural diversity than Mumbai as the backdrop to an event of this nature?

How do we begin to understand the multiple streams, cultures, stories that create the living, breathing entity that is Mumbai?

Someone once described Mumbai as
"a scream, a dream, a whisper; a secret that everybody knows but never admits. Trying to describe the city is like trying to hold a thought that slips through the fingers of the manic mind faster that sand. It is difficult to catch the pulse of this amorphous animal, this beating heart, this synecdoche of survival, this rupture."

The only way you can understand rupture is to study the debris, colorful shards that make up the fabric of the beast that explodes and is born anew every single day. You have to study the parts, to understand the whole.

Hosting Semiofest in Mumbai is an endeavor to study and participate in the break-neck pace of change that this city and its surroundings embody.

From the urchin who sells fidget toys at traffic signals, to the dancing traffic policeman, to the taxi driver who drives home late night commuters for free - Mumbai is a space of magic and innovation. There is an inherent power of will, an aggressive stamp of life that shines through - a power of will that compels creation, and creative survival.

The space is a rich, multifaceted immersion in constant change. Mumbai as we see it is a space of constant flux. Buried deep in this cityscape is the idea of survival, a thread that runs through every cell of the city and its metaphorical shadow. It is this thread that we choose to pull. Our thematic lens will attempt to magnify and enhance this very idea of survival.

We believe that Mumbai is the writing on the wall; a memo from reality that we forgot to read. So welcome to Mumbai and may we say, brace yourself.

vastu sangrahalaya

Founded in the early years of the 20th century, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly named the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India), is the main museum in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It was created to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, (who was then Prince of Wales). It is located in the heart of South Mumbai near the Gateway of India.

Registration form

Fill in some quick details. It helps us keep you updated.

In case of queries, shoot us a mail at We shall respond at the earliest.