CFP: The Shape of Diversity to Come: Global Community, Global Archipelago, or a New Civility?
Submission deadline: Sunday, September 30 2012
Thursday, January 24 2013 - Friday, January 25 2013
Faculty of Law, Erasmus University of Rotterdam
The nation state, imagined as a formation encompassing a culturally unified people, is now straining under the challenges of globalization and the revolution in communication technology. This conference will consider the dynamic changes that are currently taking place with respect to cultural and religious diversity as a result of the explosion in communication technologies, address the conflicts they give rise to, and discuss the ramifications for both law and politics.
Two views on the impact of communication and information technology dominate the scholarship: one in which communication leads to the emergence of a global community and an interconnected global culture; and a second in which it leads to an archipelago of communities that do not necessarily converge with the boundaries nation states, i.e. to a cultural Balkanization of the world across national borders.
This conference will also address a third alternative. Instead of presenting the implications of the networked information and communication infrastructure in the opposing metaphors of a global community or a global archipelago, one can also argue for a normative understanding of what is at stake. Instead of endorsing either utopian notions of global community or dystopian fears of an Internet with walled gardens, one can vouch for an internet that allows for interconnectivity without accepting the increased personalization that leads to unprecedented surveillance and social sorting in both the private and the public sphere.
We hope this conference will be a stimulating gathering of scholars from different disciplines and increase our understanding of the legal and political implications of globalization and communication technology for national and cultural identity.
Information Technology and Identity
Does the way in which new forms of communication bolster immigrant and minority communities call into question classical liberal and communitarian views of the multicultural society? Information and conversation flows freely in and out of the national space. What does this mean for the habituation of new citizens? Dutch expats in New York, London, or Singapore can remain intimately connected and attached to their country of origin in a range of new ways. Should their hybrid identity be recognized in dual citizenship?
Of course, critical questions can also be asked about the real substance of these new forms of association that the communication and information revolution has brought forth. Are the ties of these communities strong enough to substitute the traditional organizations of civil society? Or, is it a mistake to equate the weak internet communities with real-life social, cultural and political organizations?
Techno-Determinism and Choice
Some of the analysis presents the development of information and communication technology as an unstoppable force that reshapes the way people relate. Yet, there is a great deal of man-made code at the basis of this reconstitution of social life. Should we simply accept the design choices and algorithms that rule our social lives in cyberspace?
This raises normative questions about the technical choices in the architectural design of cyberspace. What sort of place do we want cyberspace to be? “We must take responsibility for the politics we are building into this architecture,” Lawrence Lessig claims, “for this architecture is a sovereign governing the community that lives in that space. We must consider the politics of the architecture of the life there”. Code maybe law, as Lessig suggests, but it is not generally accepted as a type of law.
Media and Public Discourse
The nationally organized media organizations once played a pivotal role in creating and informing a mass public, in facilitating a national debate on national issues. It created Benedict Anderson’s famous “imagined community” of the nation by making people feel they were all part of a developing story, that they were all experiencing the same events as part of an encompassing nation. The internet has undermined this role. The news is now fragmenting. This shattering of the news media in part tracks existing cultural and religious divisions ― think of the role Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya play for immigrants of North-Africa and the Middle-East, or the Christian networks for evangelicals the world over. What does this fragmentation of the news media mean for public discourse and the need for a national conversation?
Is there Method for this Madness?
How do we overcome the methodological nationalism of political and legal theory? How do we think about the political community if the groups that define people are becoming both more global and more local in scope than the nation state in which they are citizens? Both Lawrence Lessig’s and Eli Pariser’s analysis, moreover, raise the question: To what extent must the “code” of cyberspace also be considered a matter for political and legal decision-making? If they are considered legitimate political and legal issues, then it is unclear to which constituency these issues should be addressed. Which sovereign decides on the code of cyberspace?
The Conference will consist of a two-day Seminar with keynotes that bring together scholars from different domains, hoping to raise new insights across disciplinary borders.
We invite scholars from all relevant fields to present a paper at the conference, ‘The Shape of Diversity to Come’. Proposals for papers in one of the 4 conference tracks listed below will be taken into consideration.
- Deadline for the submission of paper proposals in the form of an extended abstract (max. 1500 words): September 30th 2012. Please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Acceptance or rejection of the proposals by: October 15th 2012.
- The deadline for the written papers (6000 to 8000 words) is December 30th 2012.
We aim to publish the keynotes and a selection of the papers in an edited volume.
Julie Cohen is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. She recently published Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press, 2012).
Chandran Kukathas is author of The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom (Oxford University Press 2003). Kukathas is currently chair of Political Theory at the London School of Economics.
Emmanuel Melissaris is Senior Lecturer in Law at the LSE Department of Law. He is the author of a recent work on legal pluralism and legal theory Ubiquitous Law: Legal Theory and the Space for Legal Pluralism (Ashgate, 2009).
Jos de Mul is professor in Philosophical Anthropology and its History and head of the section Philosophy of Man and Culture and Scientific Director of the research institute 'Philosophy of Information and Communication Technology' (FICT). Among his books are Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy (State University of New York Press, 1999), The Tragedy of Finitude (Yale University Press, 2004), and Cyberspace Odyssey (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).
Saskia Sassen is Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages ( Princeton University Press 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007), and the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2011). Her books are translated into over twenty languages. She is currently working on When Territory Exits Existing Frameworks.
This conference is organised by Wouter de Been and Mireille Hildebrandt. In case you have any questions, please send an email to Dr. Wouter de Been.
Contact: Dr. Wouter de Been (email@example.com)
€ 100,= (conference material, lunch included)
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