Invited Speakers

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Logistical Media and Territory

‘Platform Research, Logistical Nightmares and Autonomous Media’

Ned Rossiter
Professor, Institute for Culture and Society
Western Sydney University

Reflecting on the practice of devising platforms for collective research projects, this paper charts some of the key conditions and critical debates that have defined the past decade in fields of media theory, activist politics and urban studies. I address topics ranging from a critique of creative industries, experiments in urban mapping in Beijing, circuits of labour in cultural industries in Shanghai and the formation of IT towns in Kolkata, the making of logistical worlds in Athens, Chile and West Bengal, and the territoriality of data infrastructures. Common to all of these projects is a focus on contemporary labour regimes and the technics of governance. The paper elaborates how I have developed a media theory attentive to the operation of power and the variation of globality. I conclude with a sketch of nascent research on the automation of society and the prospects for undertaking media theory in environments governed by digital objects.


‘From Logistical Worlds to Data Farms: On Borders and Territory in the Making of Digital Infrastructures’

Brett Neilson
Professor, Institute for Culture and Society
Western Sydney University

How does a research agenda addressed to the forms of power manifest in logistical practices swerve into an investigation of the role of data centres in the contemporary nexus of politics and economy? This paper traces research I have pursued with a diverse group of academics, artists and activists over the past five years. Beginning with a discussion of a project known as Logistical Worlds: Infrastructure, Software, Labour, I reflect on how an investigation of labor transformations in shipping ports required a method of “following the software.” This method involved addressing empirical research to sites where the interoperativity between software systems breaks down. The paper then turns to explore how this following of software led to further research focused on hardware, specifically the data centres that store, process, and transmit information that enables the global mobility of people and things. In discussing the challenges faced in initiating a new project dubbed Data Farms: Circuits, Territory, Labour, I close the paper by asking how the making of digital infrastructures intersects the making of borders, a related question that has also occupied much of my research interest in recent years.


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‘Translation Across Borders: Working-Class Public Spheres and the Cultural Politics of Solidarity’

Jack Qiu
Professor, School of Journalism and Communication
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Forces of economic globalization have swept across national boundaries, but they have not created a single, homogeneous global communication system. Instead, in reshaping networks and communities around the world, they have produced new gaps among rich and poor, among different cultural and religious groups, and among the working people with varying employment status, immigration status, gender, occupation, and skills levels. New dynamics of “border struggle” (Mezzadra and Neilson, 2013) thus emerge, entailing translation among the working people. Two concepts will be introduced in this talk to analyze intra-class translation in the contexts of mainland China. One is “working-class public spheres” building on while also going beyond the notion of “the proletarian public sphere” a la Negt and Kluge. The other is the cultural politics of solidarity, which is a classic theme of Marxist praxis since Gramsci. How is translation possible, across old and new borders within the Chinese working class? Why at certain moments the cultural politics of solidarity outweighs divisive identity politics, whereas at other moments it is the latter that prevails? This talk shall explore these questions through a series of Internet events involving Chinese female migrant workers.



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Appified Politics: Rapid prototyping Internets of Survival

Nishant Shah
Dean, Graduate School, ArtEZ University of the Arts
Professor, Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University

The promise of the digital network is seamless consolidation. The premise of this promise is persistent distribution and separation. These dual principles of digital networking produce conditions of homophily that organize the digitally mediated world into patterns that are marked by an ‘extinction impulse’. In this workshop, I unpack this extinction impulse by looking at a specific instance of Universal Access in India to show how they produce what I call an appified politics. The unpacking is followed by the introduction of 6 touchstones that critically counter and question these current trends and invite the participants into a rapid prototyping work-group that seeks to chart the first steps towards building Internets of Survival.

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