CFP Digital Power, Decolonising Life

RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Royal Geographical Society, London

Wednesday 30 August – Friday 1 September 2017

Call for Papers (Deadline Monday 6th February, 2017)

Abstract This session invites submissions that explore the ‘decolonising’ (Ngugi 1986, Betts 1998, Smith 1999) possibilities of lived, digital experiences. From migrant workers in the gig economy, to software developers in the tech industry, and from the escalators of Hong Kong, to the estates of North London, digital lives are being increasingly shaped by discriminatory practices, protocols, infrastructures and politics (Nakamura 2009, Noble 2013; 2017, Edelman et al. 2016). These experiences stretch across, and so doing renegotiate spatial distinctions between global North/South, centre/periphery and urban/rural (Jacobs, 1996, Bishop et al. 2003). Whilst such techno-governmental assemblages may shape everyday decisions, movements and bodily practices, they are executed through an often hidden web of procedural, algorithmic, cartographic, or calculative means, often developed through or by colonial processes of governmentality, territorialisation, sovereignty and order. At present, digital life for many remains resolutely, undeniably and unceasingly ‘colonised’ – both in everyday and spectacular variations; despite the fading, and always likely improbable, emancipatory gains from new digital platforms, data sources, initiatives and organizations.
This session invites proposals providing empirical, methodological and conceptual strategies to ‘decolonise the digital’ that are intended to echo and reverberate around historical calls to ‘decolonise the mind’ (Ngugi 1986), and more contemporary efforts to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ (Kamanzi 2015, Shay 2015; 2016). It seeks to give a platform to a multitude of decolonising counterpoints to prevailing digital beliefs, practices, narratives, pitches and projects that have further entrenched privileged, western forms of geographical knowledge-making. We actively seek a range of presentations beyond the academic conference paper. These may include (but are not limited to): activist engagements, short films, ‘playtests’, artistic demonstrations, interactive contributions, playful presentations, and poetry performances, as well as traditional ‘academic’ papers. Interdisciplinary, and multi-author collaborations are also encouraged.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
• Digital workplace politics
• Digital labour and the gig economy
• Digital navigation, risk, and safety
• Cartographic order, bordering and control
• Digital infrastructures, institutions and organization(s)
• Data and metrics
• Algorithmic power and protocol
• Security practices of sensing, screening, sorting, vetting
• Digital discrimination, injustice, law
• Digital epistemologies and ontologies
• Activism, protest, ethics and emancipation
• Digital futures and speculative politics

Organisers Clancy Wilmott (University of Manchester), Sam Hind (University of Warwick), Michael Duggan (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Please submit abstracts (250 words max) to Sam Hind (, along with a title and author details. Deadline is Monday 6th February, 2017.