Past Colloquium

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
1169 BSB

Paradise Lost? Reconsidering Power, Resistance, and the Internet After Snowden

Marianne Franklin
Goldsmiths (University of London, UK)

The world is still reeling from the realisation that what we do and where we go online are under constant surveillance of one sort or another, by government agencies as well as commercial interests; extra-judicial and cross-border activities that undermine fundamental freedoms in the offline and offline world. As international organizations, politicians and technical specialists grapple with the ongoing political, techno-economic, and social fall-out of the Snowden revelations, it is easy to lose sight of how ordinary people’s online practices of everyday life also have a role to play in the outcome of these struggles. In this talk I present three scenarios of power and resistance that have been playing out behind the screen: (1) over who owns and controls the applications that people access everyday, (2) homelessness and the digital divide, and (2) human rights advocacy for the online environment before and since Snowden. Taken together and examined from close-up these cases underscore the limits of techno-centric, media-centric, and state-centric analyses that have characterised scholarly and popular literature on the internet-society nexus. I argue for a reconsideration of three core tropes in the literature that looks to understand how the way people use the internet and the way the internet “uses” us has implications for nation-states, publics, and the notion of what it means to govern in a digital age.

The talk draws on Digital Dilemmas: Power Resistance and the Internet (Oxford University Press, 2013) and developments over the last year in light of the way the Snowden revelations have galvanized longstanding human rights advocacy for the online environment into a global movement.

 Biographical Note

 Marianne Franklin is Professor of Global Media and Politics at Goldsmiths (University of London, UK). Her research interests and academic background span the Humanities (Double Major in History and Music) and Social Sciences (International Relations).  A recipient of research funding from the Social Science Research Council (USA) and Ford Foundation, she has been active in human rights advocacy for the Internet; serving as co-Chair of the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition at the UN Internet Governance Forum (2012-2014). She is project leader of the IRPC’s Charter of Internet Rights and Principles for the Internet booklet project, currently on the Steering Committee of the IRP Coalition and also serving on the Steering Group of the Best Bits Civil Society network. This year she was elected as Chair of The Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet). Author of The Internet, Postcolonial Politics, and Everyday Life, her latest book, Digital Dilemmas: Power, Resistance and the Internet, is out with Oxford University Press (2013).

Twitter: @GloComm