Pirate Assemblages: The Global Politics of Anonymous, the Pirate Parties and Radical P2P Communities
Call for Papers Date:
In May 2006, the Swedish police raided and seized The Pirate Bay's servers in Stockholm for copyright infringement. As a result, the newborn Swedish Pirate Party saw a membership surge, received 7% of the vote in the European Parliament election of 2009, and spearheaded the Pirate Parties International, a network of political parties that fight for copyright reform, open source governance, and the civil right to privacy in the information society. Recently, the German Pirate Party has dubbed the success of its Swedish counterpart in four different German state elections.
In October 2010, the hacktivist network Anonymous launched Operation Payback, a series of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against anti-piracy organizations and government agencies that were held responsible for the outage of The Pirate Bay. In an open letter to Anonymous, the US and UK Pirate Parties invited the hacktivist movement to cease the attacks and "choose a more moderate and legal way" to pursue the struggle for copyright reform. Although Anonymous, the Pirate Parties, and other social movements for direct democracy may not always agree on their tactics they all consider the peer-to-peer exchange of information amongst all human beings as fundamental to the communal organization of a free and open society.
The struggles against intellectual property and for a democratic access to information have thus entered a new phase. In particular, the rise of Wikileaks, Anonymous and the Pirate Parties as well as the mobilizations against laws such as SOPA, PIPA and ACTA signal that Internet users are no longer willing to delegate the representation of their interests to third parties. The refusal of representation is also a common feature of the recent movements against autocracy in the Middle East and austerity measures in Europe and North America. For example, Michel Bawuens has compared Occupy to an open API with modules, such as "protest camping"˙ and "general assemblies," which can be used as templates and modified by all, without the need of a centralized leadership.
Yet while on a general level the new P2P and pirate movements seem to share common ideals and goals significant differences remain on how to pursue these objectives. Pirate Assemblages takes this debate as a departure point to explore a set of pressing issues on the social composition and global politics of the new P2P movements. In particular we are interested in articles that pose and try to answer questions such as:
* The hacker ethos that informs the open source community and the new pirate movements assumes that traditional institutions are inherently flawed because of their hierarchical and centralized structure. How are decisions made within these movements? Is technical knowledge the primary way to gain status? What other competences are mobilized? Is there a leadership within these movements? If so, how is it selected?
* It is generally assumed that the core organizers of the IPP, Anonymous, and file-sharing networks are predominantly white middle-class men. If this is true, what are the consequences of such limited composition on the politics of these formations? And what are the examples that may challenge this assumption?
* How do these movements differ from each other due to their regional backgrounds? To what extent is the idea of freedom associated with digital rights and P2P still linked to the Enlightenment project and Western rationality? Are there other notions of freedom that can inspire the politics of these movements?
* The IPP, Anonymous, and Occupy often exhibit the coexistence of a liberal or libertarian wing and an anti-capitalist wing. Is the dialectic between these components an impediment or a stimulus to the growth of these movements? How are conflicts mediated internally? How are they represented on the outside?
* In which way is the autonomous organization of cognitive workers that make up the global pirate movement affecting the organizational forms of wider social movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy and the Spanish Indignados?
* What are the mid-term campaigns and objectives that can lead these movements to articulate a global politics without denying their regional and cultural differences? Are there viable examples that show how this process may already be underway?
We are interested in articles that focus on specific case studies as well as broader comparative analyses. Submissions about non-European and non-U.S. case studies are encouraged. Please send a 300-400 words abstract to Carolin Wiedemann and Marco Deseriis no later than August 31, 2012. You will receive an answer by September 15, 2012. Complete chapters are due on December 5, 2012. The editors aim at publishing the book in multiple languages including English and German.
Marco Deseriis, Ph.D.
Screen and Media Studies
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