Digital Futures Lecture Series: Anita Say Chan

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Ehrlicher Room (3100 North Quad)

Networking Peripheries: Technological Futures, Digital Memory and the Myth of Digital Universalism

Channeling the promise global interconnection, and framed as the mark of contemporary optimization, “the digital” has come to represent the path towards the future for diverse nations, economies, and populations alike. In the midst of its accelerating pursuits across distinct global spaces, however, little has been made of the “universalist” underpinnings that mobilize digitality’s global spread, or of the distinct imaginaries around digital culture and global connection that emerge outside the given centers of techno-culture. This paper will attend to experiments in innovation spaces from the periphery, including the development of rural hack lab spaces in Peru, that distinctly engage local histories and memory of knowledge work around nature, technology, and information to disrupt the dominant logics of innovation and reorient ICT for Development (ICT4D) frameworks. By fostering collaborations between Latin American free software activists across a range of rural and urban sites, and between transnational media producers and indigenous communities, such networks press a cosmopolitcal urging to “think with the unknown,” and open up possibilities for uncovering distinct collective futures through an interfacing with multiple local pasts.

About the speaker:

Anita Say Chan is an assistant research professor of communications in the Department of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include globalization and digital cultures, innovation networks and the “periphery”, science and technology studies in Latin America, and hybrid pedagogies in building digital literacies. She received her PhD in 2008 from the MIT Doctoral Program in History and Anthropology of and Science, Technology, and Society. Her first book, Networking Peripheries: Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism, on the competing imaginaries of global connection and information technologies in network-age Peru, was released by MIT Press in 2014. She helped found, along with Michael Twidale of GSLIS, the Recovering Prairie Futures research cluster at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and leads the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls Research Project "Collaborative Innovation and the Global Midwest" that bridges regional innovation histories with scholars from across the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the faculty leader of the Learning to See Systems INTERSECT project for graduate interdisciplinary training and  is currently a 2015-16 Faculty Fellow with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. Her research has been awarded support from the Center for the Study of Law & Culture at Columbia University’s School of Law and the National Science Foundation, and she has held postdoctoral fellowships at The CUNY Graduate Center’s Committee on Globalization & Social Change and at Stanford University’s Introduction to Humanities Program.

About the series:

This series is co-sponsored by the School of Information and the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. It is made possible with support from the John D. Evans Foundation.