City: Johannesburg
Organiser: Faeeza Ballim, Keith Breckenridge, Iginio Gagliardone, Richard Rottenburg
Venue: WiSER

This workshop takes its focus from the upheaval in popular and scholarly understandings of the intellectual (and political) prospects of the networked planet. A decade ago advocates and precocious users were celebrating the levelling, democratic and emancipatory possibilities of the Internet, and of social media platforms in particular.  Today an elaborated loathing of these technologies and their political effects — succinctly captured by the UK Channel 4 series Black Mirror — has become common and politically compelling. Popular and scholarly disillusionment with the promises of the network society now seems close to self-evident, and is the subject of daily reports in the major international newspapers.  Much more difficult to assess is the critical and political power of the dystopian critique of cybernetics — as the emergent field was named in 1948 by Norbert Wiener — that emerges from the humanist tradition. In this workshop we propose an assessment of these two movements, and their mutual engagement, in the special circumstances of the African university.

Click here for the full rationale.