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Me at the German Geographical Congress

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I am co-organizing two panels on the geopolitics of digital infrastructures at the German Geographical Congress (not sure about that translation, though – it’s the Deutscher Kongress für Geographie). I’m doing this together with Georg Glasze and Finn Dammann – two proper geographers who have kindly taken on this boundary-crossing political scientist. Both panels are scheduled for Friday afternoon (22 September). This is possibly not the most attractive time for conference-goers but it allows me to attend the DKG even though it overlaps with the SPS conference in nearby Darmstadt.

Here is the panel abstract:

For some years now, questions of the design and location of digital infrastructures have (again) increasingly been discussed as decidedly geopolitical and geo-economic questions: as questions of data sovereignty, of national independence, of spheres of influence, of power and domination. Current efforts, for example, for „digital sovereignty“ in Germany, „cyber sovereignty“ in China, „strategic autonomy“ in France or a „clean network“ in the USA point to a geopoliticisation of digital infrastructures – which is often also linked to a reconfiguration of geopolitical and geo-economic models, discourses and strategies. Similar processes and disputes can be observed in a variety of fields, e.g. in the governance of cloud computing, the control of internet platforms and the struggle for technological leadership in artificial intelligence. Our session takes this geopoliticisation as its starting point: on the one hand, we are interested in its specific historical and geographical situatedness. On the other hand, we would like to discuss which effects concrete political programmes, legal regulations or infrastructural measures have on socio-technical, economic and political processes of digital transformation. In doing so, we want to understand digital technologies both in their materiality and as objects of social construction.

The papers cover a huge range of issues: open data, content delivery networks, technical standards, urban planning, and European digital sovereignty. I’m looking forward to how they speak to the central theme of the twin panels.

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