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Digital Networks, Communications, and Technologies

Coordinators: Sudha Rajagopolan, Franziska Pl├╝mmer, Jamal Shahin, Niels ten Oever

This thematic cluster examines contemporary discourses and practices surrounding digital networks and communications technologies. Inspired by multiple disciplinary approaches to understanding the mutually-shaping effects of technology on our social, political, and economic systems, we assess how digital networks and communications technologies impact our perception of power, legitimacy, justice, autonomy, and sovereignty, and inform our agency and participation in these processes, across the world. Research within the cluster covers a broad sweep of regions from Europe and Russia to China, India and the Global South.

Our understanding of digital technology is broad and encapsulates different interpretations of 'technologies as tools' and 'technologies as agents', from infrastructures and standards, to data and their application. Our work examines both the historical paths and legacies of technology (use and abuse), the contemporary construction of technology as an intervening actor in contemporary policy debates, and future technological imaginaries as raised by local, national and international actors. We address the creation and execution of multilevel and metagovernance in a space where technologies play a key role in 'managing' societies. The Digital Networks, Communications and Technologies transversal research cluster in ARTES provides a space to address the governance and regulatory challenges at the interface between 'traditional' ideas of governance and experiments in polycentric, complex, dynamic and/or fragmented ordering across and beyond the state. In addition to governance, the research cluster focuses on practices of participation, such as performances of citizenship and historical memory across technological platforms.