MANCEPT Workshop - Constructing "Information Warfare"

September 7, 2021 - September 10, 2021
Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester

United Kingdom

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Constructing “Information Warfare” is one of the workshops at the 2021 MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory. The workshops will be held online.

Workshop Overview:

In 1993, John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt published a RAND paper called ‘Cyberwar is Coming!’. In the article, Arquilla and Ronfeldt predicted “netwar”, a term that means:

"...trying to disrupt, damage, or modify what a target population “knows” or thinks about itself and the world around it. A netwar may focus on public or elite opinions, or both. It may involve public diplomacy measures, propaganda and psychological campaigns, political and cultural subversion, deception of or interference with the local media...In other words, netwar represents a new entry on the spectrum of conflict that spans economic, political, and social as well as military forms of 'war'" (Arquilla and Ronfeldt 1993). 

From the quotation above, it’s clear that the concept of “netwar” is remarkably capacious. While the term “netwar” never quite caught on, the concept of “netwar” has been refashioned in a new language; today, “information warfare” is used in that same all-encompassing, far-reaching way.

While the United States and NATO have not concretely defined “information warfare”, the term has become more prevalent(Wanless and Pamment 2019).

The category of “information warfare” merits scrutiny and should not be accepted at face value.

This panel seeks to explore the definition of “information warfare”, the relationship between information, influence, and state power, and the conceptual complexities that arise when we attempt to adjudicate kinds of political speech. We welcome submissions from scholars of all disciplines as well as practitioners, activists, and journalists. Potential areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • How should we conceptualise “information warfare”? Is the umbrella term “information warfare” useful and appropriate?
  • Is the term “information warfare” metaphorical? How is “information warfare” distinguished from other kinds of warfare?
  • What is the relationship between “information warfare” and propaganda?
  • Is an act of “information warfare” a unique kind of speech act? What is one doing with words when one engages in “information warfare”?
  • Which authorities ought to be able to define what constitutes “information warfare”?

 Submission Guidelines: 

Abstracts of 300-500 words should be formatted for blind review and submitted by May 17, 2021 to Beba Cibralic ([email protected]). Please include your name, contact information, and disciplinary/institutional affiliation in the body of your email. 

Accepted presenters will be notified by May 30th, 2021. Please direct any questions to Beba Cibralic.


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