Speakers and Abstracts

Platforms and Potency: What Does It Take to Achieve Collective Agency Today?

Jeremy Gilbert (London)

Abstract

In recent years, both progressive and conservative social forces have found uses for new media technologies. Social media have been central to extraordinary mobilisations of support for radical political leaders like Corbyn and Sanders. The capture of huge sections of the creative economy by platform corporations such as Amazon and Netflix has been arguably the defining feature of recent shifts in the operation of global capitalism. The occupation of the US Presidency by the alt-right apparently was apparently enabled by the deployment of data analytics, social media and online platforms. What have we learned from all this? Is it possible to draw some conclusions from these experiences about the necessary conditions under which potent collectivities can be constituted in the new media sphere, and about the mechanisms by which new commons can avoid capture and exploitation? Under what conditions are mediated experiences of collectivity genuinely empowering, and under what circumstances are they merely illusory compensations for the absence of effective democracy and the wholesale degradation of the commons? 

Bio

Jeremy Gilbert is Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London, Editor of the Journal New Formations, Author of books such as Anticapitalism and Culture (2008) Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism (2014) and Hegemony Now: Power in the Twenty-First Century (with Alex Williams, forthcoming).

 

 

 


Between Making a Living and Getting a Life
: Commoning and the Abeyance of Postwork Imaginaries

Valeria Graziano (London)

Abstract

Something “in abeyance” is in a state of being suspended or put aside in a temporary limbo, waiting to be claimed by a rightful owner. Abeyance has something in common with “yawning”, which today evokes tiredness or boredom, but in the past could also signify a longing or desire. Through this lens, I would like to explore some of the gaps between the demands of antiwork politics and the promises of postwork imaginaries from the perspective of social reproduction and mass intellectuality.

Bio

Valeria Graziano (Research Fellow, Middlesex University, London) is a theorist, educator and organizer. Her research is primarily concerned with histories of antiwork practices and sustainable modes of cultural organizing. She is active in action research projects and pedagogical initiatives in collaboration the Micropolitics Research Group and Precarious Workers Brigade.

 


Footnotes on Migration

Nanna Heidenreich (Cologne)

Abstract

Mobile undercommons (a term recently proposed by Brigitta Kuster) are being formed in migratory networks from which temporary and transitory social groups come into being: neither alone, but also not “together”: “not collective, not given to decision, not adhering or reattaching to settlement, nation, state, territory or historical story.” But also not “repossessed by the group, which could not now feel as one, reunited in time and space.” (Fred Moten/Stefano Harney, The Undercommons, 2013, p. 98). These undercommons produce a specific form of adherence, of connection, and a specific kind of knowledge, which occasionally gets “revealed”: maps detailing routes, “rough guides” and “handbooks”. When these supposedly surprising “finds” are published – circulated – outside those undercommons from which they supposedly stem, they are already history. Control, just as visibility, never comes first. Mobile undercommons thus ask the question of how to relate otherwise: to a flee(t)ing yet substantial commonality, that is not mine, not there, but always elsewhere. I propose to address this question by looking at film and video production – via considering them as sites of collectivity and knowledge production – with very different politics and narratives.

Bio

Nanna Heidenreich is a media and culture studies scholar and curator. She is professor for Digital Narratives – Theory at the ifs international filmschule köln in Cologne, Germany, following teaching positions at the University of the Arts in Braunschweig and the University of Hildesheim. Since 2009 she is co-curator for the Berlinale program Forum Expanded and since November 2015 she also works as a researcher and curator for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (www.hkw.de), including projects such as “Tonspuren/Soundtracks” (fall 2015) and “Now is the time of monsters. What comes after nations?” (together with Rana Dasgupta and Katrin Klingan, March 2017). Nanna Heidenreich is part of the network critical migration and border regime studies (kritnet), and is involved in the Tribunal “NSU-Komplex auflösen”. She has published widely on migration, visual culture, postcolonial media theory, art and activism. She lives in Berlin and occasionally has someone update her site nannaheidenreich.net


Participatory Authenticities, Boundaries and Conflicts: From Fan Communities to a Transfandom Commons?

Matt Hills (Huddersfield)

Abstract

Fan studies has typically celebrated the concept of fan community. Yet actual fan communities have often been marked by authenticity-construction and othering, positioning ‘good’ fans versus fake/excessive fandom. At the same time, fans have symbolically attacked rival fandoms and stereotyped feminised fan objects. Against such a backdrop, intertwined fandom and anti-fandom may appear to offer rather weak possibilities for any generalised fan Commons. And given that theorists have been unable to agree on a “common idea of the Commons” (Hall 2016: 3), it comes as no surprise that fans would display equally conflictual notions of participation. However, there have been attempts to build transfandom coalitions, e.g. the Organisation for Transformative Works (De Kosnik 2016), while transfandom itself has become more visible in scholarship (Booth 2016; Stein 2015). In this presentation, I want to consider how, and to what extent, participatory culture can facilitate, produce or impede a fully transfandom Commons.

Bio

Matt Hills is Professor of Media and Journalism at the University of Huddersfield, where he is also co-Director (with Cornel Sandvoss) of the newly launched Centre for Participatory Culture. Matt is additionally co-editor (with Dan Hassler-Forest) on the ‘Transmedia’ book series for Amsterdam University Press. This published its first title, Fanfiction and the Author by Judith Fathallah, in 2017. Matt has written six sole-authored monographs himself, starting with Fan Cultures in 2002 (Routledge) and coming up to date with Doctor Who: The Unfolding Event in 2015 (Palgrave), as well as editing New Dimensions of Doctor Who (2013) for the programme’s fiftieth anniversary year. He has also published more than a hundred book chapters or journal articles on media fandom and cult film/TV, including publishing in the journal Transformative Works and Cultures and the Journal of Fandom Studies. Other recent work has included chapters for the Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures, The Blackwell-Wiley Companion to Fandom and Fan Studies, and the Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, along with a Foreword for the second edition of Paul Booth’s Digital Fandom and an Afterword for the Bloomsbury edited collection Seeing Fans. Matt gave a keynote at the first Fan Studies Network Symposium, and returns with a Plenary, ‘5 Years of FSN and Fan Studies’ at FSN 2017, hosted by the University of Huddersfield. Among other projects, Matt is currently working on a follow-up to his first book for Routledge, entitled Fan Studies.

 


Mobile Technologies and the Construction of Meaningful Social Relationships: Mobile Dating Applications and the Contrasted Cases of Grindr and Tinder

Christian Licoppe (Paris)

Abstract

I want to explore here, how the development of mobile, location-based dating applications transform hookup and dating practices. I will first focus on an extensive study of casual hookups in Grindr, a mobile dating app used by the gay community, which bears some resemblance to pure market encounters (in the sense of not leading to any repeat encounters, leaving partners unaffected by the encounter beyond the immediate gratification which is its purpose). I will argue that sexual encounters between anonymous gay partners, which used to occur in public places before the advent of digital technologies, are remediated through the location aware Grindr mobile app, in a way which emphasizes a rejection of ‘conversation’ (in a sense I will define), and its perceived related risk of making such encounters more personal and enduring. I will show how Grindr users have developed an interactional style in their initiation of mediated interaction through electronic messaging which emphasizes preference-matching messaging to counter such a conversational-relational drift. Finally, I make a comparison to Tinder, the users of which are mostly heterosexual. Here mediated encounters develop within a romantic frame which values relationship-building and highlights the importance of conversation. This shows how ordinary conversation seems to run against the commodification of romantic relationships into casual hookups, and how the same type of mobile digital technology or mediated interaction may be appropriated very differently according to the social practices and cultural values of different communities of users.

Bio

Christian Licoppe, PhD is professor of sociology, trained in history and sociology of science and technology. His research focuses on conversation analysis and multimodal interaction analysis, and more generally ethnographic studies of multi-participant interaction in mobile and institutional settings. In the field of mobile studies, he has been extensively studying the interactions of mobile users in location aware systems and the social consequences of the ways they refer to place and proximity. Currently, he is engaged working on projects about the introduction of video in French courtrooms and video communication practices (i.e. skype). Among his recent publications are “Showing objects in Skype video-mediated conversations: From showing gestures to showing sequences” (Journal of Pragmatics, March 2017), “Grasping the Discrete Link between Filming and Videoconferencing in the Courtroom. Reflections from the French Case” (Revista Crítica de Ciencias Sociais, May 2017, together with Laurence Dumoulin) and “Grindr casual hook-ups as interactional achievements” (New Media & Society 18/11, 2016)

 


Commoning Contemporary Art: A Look Back at Lafayette Anticipation’s Re-Source Project

Alexandre Monnin (Clermont-Ferrand)

Abstract

Re-Source is the name of Lafayette Anticipation’s (the Galerie Lafayette Foundation for Contemporary Art) digital platform. It was born out of discussions between Alexandre Monnin, Neil Cummings, and Lafayette Anticipation’s core team members before the former became its lead architect. Conceived as a direct extension of Lafayette Anticipation, its main purpose is to open the black box of contemporary art, not unlike laboratory studies with regards to science in the 70s and 80s. A semantic archive, Re-Source helps to record and index the data produced by the team members of the Foundation on a daily basis. From this material, another understanding of art, concerned with the hidden work of many actors generally taken to be irrelevant and left in the background comes to the forefront. Artworks are no longer the result of an artist’s genius but rather the combined effect of a multitude of actors, humans and non-humans. In this communication we will frame the philosophical framework behind Re-Source (specially its roots in Etienne Souriau’s ontology of “oeuvres à faire”) and detail the way such a tool is, from our perspective, to be administered so as to serve the commons and care for the effectiveness of (contemporary) art. These considerations will be drawn upon our experience with the New Patrons, with what we call “situation art” (as exemplified by the work of artists like Ann Guillaume and Eve Chabanon) and with alternative art institutions (such as Islington Mill, which hosts the Temporary Custodians).

Bio

Alexandre Monnin holds a PhD from Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. He helped launch the “philosophy of the Web” movement along with Harry Halpin and Yuk Hui and has been organizing PhiloWeb conferences since 2010 (some in Europe, others in the US, at the Googleplex in Mountain View in 2015 and in Stanford, this year). He is now Director of Research at Origens Medialab and Professor at ESC Clermont Business School. He also leads a project funded by the Fondation Daniel and Nina Carasso which attempts to extend the Fondation de France “New Patrons” protocol jointly to the artistic and scientific fields (“CooPair”). He previously held a research position at Inria (2014-2017), collaborated with the Fondation des Galeries Lafayette for Contemporary Art (Lafayette Anticipation) and became the Lead Architect of its digital platform, “Re-Source”. Before that, he was Head of Web Research at the Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation at Centre Pompidou between 2010 and 2013. Co-founder of two W3C Community Groups (“PhiloWeb” and “Web We Can Afford”), he is also the editor of Philosophical Engineering (Wiley, 2013) and co-edited a special issue of the international journal Intellectica entitled “Philosophy of the Web and Knowledge Engineering” in 2014. His current research is focused on the architecture of the Web, the Anthropocene, the future of digital technology (or lack of it), contemporary art and the commons.

 

Becoming One Humanity: the Relational Self and the Gift to the Distant Other

Elena Pulcini (Florence)

Abstract

The paper intends to argue three key points: The first is that the global age produces a new and unprecedented extension of the figure of the other because it includes the distant other in our “circle of concern”. This is due to at least two radical changes: 1) the erosion of territorial boundaries 2) the interdependence of events and the interconnection of lives. Globalization reduces or compresses distance, thereby making both the other-distant-in-space (the poor and disadvantaged people of the world), and the other-distant-in-time (future generations), objectively significant for us. The second point asks whether these transformations can produce a subjective response, assuming that the global age can favour the emergence of a new figure of the subject: whom I could define as empathetic and relational. The third point suggests new forms of gift with which to respond to the changes and challenges of the global age: namely what I call the gift of hospitality, offered to the other-distant-in-space; and the gift of the future, offered to the other-distant-in-time.

Bio

Elena Pulcini (PhD at Université de Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle) is Full Professor of Social Philosophy at the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Florence. Her research revolves around the subjects of philosophical anthropology and social philosophy, such as theory of the passions, modern individualism, and the feminine subject, theory of the gift and ethics of care, with particular emphasis on anthropological and social transformations in the global age. Among her recent books are: The Individual without Passions. Modern Individualism and the Loss of Social Bond, Lexington (Rowan & Littlefield), Lanham, USA 2012 (Ital. ed. 2001); Care of the World. Fear, Responsibility and Justice in the Global Age, Springer, Dordrecht 2012 (Ital. ed. 2009: 2009 winner of the “Viaggio a Siracusa” Prize for Philosophy); Envie. Essai sur une passion triste, c/o Le Bord de l’eau, Paris, 2013 (ital. ed. 2011); Filosofie della globalizzazione (co-editor 2001); Il potere di unire. Femminile, desiderio, cura, 2003; Umano post-umano. Potere, sapere, etica nell’età globale (co-editor 2004).


Condividuality and Subsistence

Gerald Raunig (Zurich)

Abstract

Subsistential division shifts the focus from the indivisible individual (and the individual’s complements like community or society) to con/dividual modes of socialization and subjectivation. Every living being is divisible, every division threatens its life and indicates its mortality. And its, as Judith Butler and Isabell Lorey emphasize, vulnerability and precariousness, and thus the dimension of precarious life, precariousness extends not only beyond the individual, irreversibly and ineluctably social, but also beyond the circle of human beings. Not only human bonds form the endangered basis of life, but also the relationships of all living creatures, things, ghosts, machines. Their con/dividuality is subsistential, because concepts like ontological or existential are too closely tied to notions of the unified and antecedent essences of a ground. The subsistential territories, the subsistential de/foundations of dividing imply an asymmetrical intercourse, which is not necessarily an exchange, not a measuring and adapting of the parts, but also not a tribute in the sense of cutting off a part as precondition for coherent individuation and unified community. We find the idea of subsistential division also behind contemporary demands for social rent and a reversal of debts (like in the actions of the Spanish Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca or the US Strike Debt), in which a specific form of mutual indebtedness and condividuality becomes ineluctable.

Bio

Gerald Raunig works at the eipcp (European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies) as one of the editors of the multilingual publishing platform transversal texts, and at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste as professor for philosophy. Books in English: Art and Revolution. Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2007; Art and Contemporary Critical Practice. Reinventing Institutional Critique, London: mayflybooks 2009 (Ed., with Gene Ray); A Thousand Machines, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2010; Critique of Creativity, London: mayflybooks 2011 (Ed., with Gene Ray and Ulf Wuggenig); Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2013; DIVIDUUM. Machinic Capitalism and Molecular Revolution, Vol.1, translated by Aileen Derieg, New York/Los Angeles: Semiotext(e)/MIT Press 2016.

 


Networked Imaginations and Practices of ‘Good Life’ on Social Media

Özlem Savaş (Ankara/Konstanz)

Abstract

It has been largely discussed and problematized that individual self-presentations on social media express not the actual but the imagined, idealized and desired selves and lives. Regardless of whether they are genuine or fictitious, these self-presentations compose a lifestyle repertoire, which suggests or imposes the attractive, desirable, promoted, or normative ways of being and living. Underpinned by an ethnographic research on practices of self and lifestyle on Facebook in Turkey, this paper focuses on the self-reflexive imaginations and practices of ‘good life’ on Facebook. It explores how a lifestyle repertoire on Facebook is collectively and collaboratively created by individuals, as well as lifestyle experts and industries, and utilized in the everyday to understand, constitute and transform both individual and collective ways of being and living. This repertoire bridges the individual, private, and affective domains of the everyday with the collective, public and political domains and addresses the perpetual and imperative questions of our age: ‘Who shall I/we be? ‘How shall I/we live?’ As they present and exchange their imaginations, knowledge, skills, practices, experiences, and emotions about a ‘good life’ in a social network, individuals shape and participate in a cultural public sphere. This paper examines the networked and intertwined practices of self, belonging, and participation on Facebook, that are focused around individual and collective, cosmopolitan imaginations of a ‘good life.’

Bio

Özlem Savaş is assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent University and associated research fellow at the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz. Her research interests focus on digital culture, social media and media ethnography. She carried out an ethnographic research project on practices of self and lifestyle on social media. Her recent research project focuses on affective political imaginations and practices on digital media within the context of migration. She recently published on networked and collaborative citizenship practices on social media. Her previous publications address diasporic taste cultures and visual culture in political Islam.

 


Mobile Commons and the Right to the City

Vassilis Tsianos (Hamburg) & Dimitris Parsanoglou (Athens)

Abstract

This presentation is based on the work we have recently published with Palgrave on Mobile Commons, Migrant digitalities and the Right to the city. Drawing from empirical material from three ‘arrival cities’ at the south-eastern extreme of Europe, Athens, Nicosia and Istanbul, we try to unravel some of the ways in which subaltern subjects reshape in practice their ‘right to the city’. In this presentation, we will problematize the concept of (urban) marginality through the lenses of subaltern subjectivity. In other words, we will demonstrate through empirical evidence stemming from migrant praxis how forms and practices of everyday life that are considered marginal, if not deviant or anomic, shape the very core of urban settings.

We will follow three axes in our analysis:

  1. Rethinking migration: from the autonomy of migration to the politics of mobile commons

  2. Rethinking (subaltern) subjectivity: from urban activism to the (re)emergence of everyday life

  3. Rethinking the right to the city: the fall of the ‘urban frontier’ and the rise of the rebel city

Migration is not just a movement from one place to another or from many places to other places or in-between places. Migration is above all social, hence political, mobility. Our endeavor is to locate migrant struggles at the core with broader transformations that are taking place. Through the lenses of migrant mobility, we explore the creation of new forms of (mobile) commons that reshape the spatio-social context of metropolitan spaces. Our endeavor, therefore, is to conceive these transformations from vantage points of those so often side-stepped, undervalued or plainly ignored, subaltern migrants. More precisely, in this context migration is largely ignored; often it is seen as a mere side issue or an epiphenomenon. In the instances where migrants are referred to, as rule, this is done so to blame them for the unemployment or the criminality or in general for threatening social cohesion already at risk. Our project can be seen as pushing decentering in the opposite direction. We therefore contend that subaltern migrant subjectivities must be brought to the center so as to perceive and connect their will, agency and praxis to both specific and broader social struggles and claims to rights by subaltern and precarious subjects, migrants and non-migrants alike.

Focusing on the transnational and migration-related movements themselves, it is important to understand the profile and discourses of the activists. The contestations over the meaning and production of the spaces as arrival cities in the three areas under study are non-linear and not always apparent with the naked eye, even if the imprints are there. Moreover, the examined movements often transcend ethnic/national exclusivities but the life-worlds of the subjects entail relations of power, economic exploitation, social oppression and alienation. The struggles of what Lefebvre referred to as “the right to the city” are precisely aiming to open up spaces that would allow subjects to survive, counter and build new worlds.

Bio

Prof. Dr. Vassilis S. Tsianos teaches theoretical sociology, research methods and migration studies at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. His work examines social theory, citizenship, racism, migration, biometric borders, urban space, commons and precarity. He is co-author of the “Escape Routes. Control and Subversion in the 21. Century”, London (Pluto Press, 2008) with Dimitris Papadopoulos and Niamh Stephenson, “Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and the Right to the City” (Palgrave, 2015) with Dimitris Parsanoglou and Nicos Trimikliniotis, and “The Art of being Many. Towards a new Theory and Practice of Gathering” (transcript, 2016) with Geheimagentur and Martin Schäfer.

Dr. Dimitris Parsanoglou is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Social Policy at Panteion University. He holds a DEA and a PhD in Sociology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has been working as a sociologist in several research projects for several research institutions and NGOs, in the framework of national and European projects. He has coordinated, as Senior researcher of the Centre for Gender Studies of the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, the FP7 project “MIG@NET: Transnational Digital Networks, Migration and Gender”, and he has taught Sociology at the Department of Philosophy and Social Studies of the University of Crete. He was a Post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Peloponnese, in the framework of the ARISTEIA project “Migration Management and International Organizations: A history of the establishment of the International Organization for Migration”. He is currently working on the HORIZON 2020 project “NEGOTIATE – Negotiating early job-insecurity and labour market exclusion in Europe” and on the project “Volunteering for Refugees in Europe: Civil Society, Solidarity, and Forced Migration along the Balkan Route amid the failure of the Common European Asylum System”, funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation. His main research interests include history and sociology of immigration to Greece with a special emphasis on employment, urban space, gender and migration policies; he has published extensively on these issues. He is co-author of the recently published Mobile Commons, Migrant Digitalities and the Right to the City (Palgrave, 2015).

 

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