DEAKIN PHILOSOPHY SEMINAR, DECEMBER 8, 2015
A/Prof. Colin Koopman (University of Oregon), “The Infopolitics of Race: Segregation by Data, 1923-1938”
Contemporary political assemblages from mass surveillance to finance capitalism to big data suggest that we may be in the midst of new political conditions. Many have sought to conceptualize these assemblages in such terms as “the information society” or “new media culture” while others would amalgamate them as an ideological effect of “neoliberalism”. But a different conceptualization of the stakes of our contemporary political transformations would enable us to attend to new modes of power that are redefining the very terms of the politics of the now. Are we in the midst of emerging political landscapes that cannot be comprehended under previous conceptualizations of power, such as the sovereign power of the state, the disciplinary power of training, and the biopower of regulation? If so, we may need an…
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My pragmatism book (Pragmatism as Transition: Historicity and Hope in James, Dewey, and Rorty) is now OUT IN PAPERBACK with Columbia Univ. Press (orig. hardcover was released in 2009). Or, in other words, it’s no longer unaffordable (for purchasers other than libraries). It is currently listed at $28 via pre-order on amazon or if you use promo code “PRATRA” at Columbia’s site it will be under $20. Please pass the word along to anyone who may be interested.
I have a new piece out today in the wonderfully smart space curated by the good people at ‘The New Inquiry.’ My piece is titled ‘The Algorithm and the Watchtower‘ and in it I suggest that when it comes to the politics of information we are too easily distracted by visual metaphors of surveillance, watching, and all-seeing gazes. The politics of information is not pan-optic, I argue, but rather pan-analytic. It depends less on total visuality and more on massive harvesting, gargantuan storage capacity, and the super-complex calculative rationality we like to call ‘Big Data.’ This piece follows on from my essay in the ‘New York Times’ last year titled ‘The Age of Infopolitics‘. Both are part of an ongoing book project involving concept work on the politics of data as well as empirical inquiry into the genealogy of how we have become what I like to call “informational persons”.
The book is framed as a genealogy of our cybernetic contemporary and looks into the pre-history of the grandiose vision of universal information first laid out by Norbert Wiener in his 1948 book Cybernetics. That pre-history, as I tell it, involves an array of informational technologies and techno-practices through which it became obligatory for the modern subject to present itself: this includes obvious devices like government-issued identification cards but also less obvious data production mechanisms like the pencil-and-paper tests of personality assessment, ideas of perfect translatability central to then-raging ideas for universal languages, and the datafication of a welter of social categories.
Check out the new piece at: http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/the-algorithm-and-the-watchtower/
Out in the latest issue of Foucault Studies (in the review essay section)–a symposium on my ‘Genealogy as Critique.’ Honored am I that Amy Allen, Eduardo Mendieta, & Kevin Olson have taken the time to develop responses both careful and critical in orientation. A hope is that this exchange will help further ongoing conversations about the role and status of critical theory vis-a-vis the contemporary (in Rabinow’s sense of that term). Some of the topics covered in the symposium (which consists of responses by Allen, Mendieta, and Olson plus my reply): normativity (+ cryptonormativity + normativeness), the status of universality and contingency, the place (or not) of the transcendental in genealogy, the relation between methodology and deployment in philosophy, and how to thinking about the challenge of choosing a problem (object, space, field) for inquiry.
A new volume of essays on Foucault edited by Jim Faubion is out under the title “Foucault Now“. This is a great collection with a solid cross-disciplinary edge to it. Great pieces by Rabinow, Huffer, and of course Jim Faubion’s latest entry in his ongoing work on an anthropology of ethics. (I feel quite lucky to be a part of this one, I have to admit.) Hacking’s “Déraison” is also here (this is a piece that some of us first heard at the UCSC conference years ago).