Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: A Symposium on Activism, Research & Critique in the Age of Big Data Capitalism

Many claims have been made about the emergence of a digital turn that is said to have radically transformed the possibilities for politics through undermining traditional modernist binaries of subject/object, state/society, politics/economics, public/private, consumption/production, time/space, mind/body, labour/leisure, culture/nature, human/posthuman. This turn has run through several phases, including cybernetics, automation technologies, mainframe computers, databases, artificial intelligence, personal computers, the World Wide Web, smart phones, geographical information systems, social media, targeted digital advertising, self-quantification, big data analytics, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things.

This conference will develop interdisciplinary assessments of the digital’s impact on society. It will interrogate the claims of both digital optimism and digital pessimism. Digital optimists assert that digital technologies have radically transformed the world; promising new forms of community, alternative ways of knowing and sensing, creative innovation, participatory culture, networked activism, and distributed democracy. Digital pessimists argue that digital technologies have not brought about positive change, but have rather deepened and extended domination through new forms of control. They speak of networked authoritarianism, digital de-humanisation, alienation 2.0, networked exploitation, or the rise of the surveillance society.

Presenters at the symposium will engage with questions of the digital in respect to activism, research and critique. The conference will engage with the possibilities, potentials, pitfalls, limits, and ideologies of digital activism. It will reflect on whether computational social science, the digital humanities and ubiquitous datafication enable new research approaches or result in a digital positivism that threatens the independence of critical research and brings about the death of the social sciences and humanities. The conference will explore the futures, places and possibilities of critique in the age of digital subjects and digital objects.

Keynote speakers

  • David Chandler
  • Jodi Dean
  • Paolo Gerbaudo
  • Orit Halpern
  • Kylie Jarrett
  • Antonio Negri
  • Antoinette Rouvroy
  • Etienne Turpin
  • Jack Linchuan Qiu

How to attend

To register and read the keynote speakers’ abstracts, please visit the ICTs and Society website.

Date and Time

Sat 20 May – Sun 21 May 2017

09:00 – 17:00


4-12 Little Titchfield Street (Westminster Law School, Regent Library)
London W1W 7BY

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