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  • Colonial Infrastructures Worksession with Arthur Asseraf and Miriyam Aouragh
    2022-12-03 11:00:00
    Published at 18 November 2022

    Dates: Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 December 2022

    Time: 12:00 - 17:00 CET Saturday, 11:00 - 16:00 CET Sunday (free lunch for participants)

    Location: Varia, (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam)

    Note: this session will be held in english

    This two-day worksession intends to be a moment of collective learning, to make tangible invisible colonial mechanisms of hierarchy and oppression that are prevalent in everyday communication technologies, yet often difficult to comprehend.

    We will consider how communication and information flows have shaped dynamics of imperial rule and how these processes persist in our contemporary modes of transmission. From the printing press to domain names, telegraph cable funding to Internet accessibility, we will study topographies of infrastructure to feel out a colonial narrative. On Saturday we invite participants to share materials that bring them close to this subject, and find affiinities within our collective concerns. On Sunday we will work through propositions - from Varia and participants - for methods of knowledge sharing that evade established colonial practices and allow for different ways of access and dissemination.

    Each day will depart from the knowledges and methods of two invited guests who will share their focuses of research, and their method, to guide our collective work.

    With Arthur Asseraf we will learn about the circulation of news in Algeria under French rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. How did people come to know and think about situations far removed from their own, and what shifts did this allow in the colonised state. What perspectives can we give attention to when considering Algeria's connections, both infrastructurally and ideologically, to the wider world?

    With Miriyam Aouragh we will learn about the controls, allowances and contraints that are currently exerted upon political formations and identities of resistance. Learning about Palestinian internet resistance and its imbrications with new technology, notably social media platforms, we will dive into the political role of digital tools.


    Arthur Asseraf

    Originally from Paris, Arthur received his BA in History from Cambridge University (King's College). While at Columbia and LSE, he ranged widely across Middle Eastern, Japanese and African history, as well as learning Arabic, eventually writing his MA Thesis on the way in which Algeria was compared to other colonies during its independence war. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Oxford, and was elected Fellow by Examination at All Souls College. His current research aims to place the history of colonial Algeria in a broader transnational context by looking at how people compared themselves to colonies beyond the French Empire. These themes have been developed in his recent books; Electric News in Colonial Algeria, (Oxford University Press, 2019), winner of the Middle East Studies Book Prize, and Le d├ęsinformateur, sur les traces de Messaoud Djebari, (Fayard, 2022).

    Miriyam Aouragh

    Miriyam began research about the implications of the internet in Palestine. She studies techno-political evolutions during outbreaks of mass revolts in the Middle East and North Africa (Second Intifada 2000, the Arab Uprisings 2011, the Second Wave protests 2016). She received the Rubicon grant in 2009 and a Leverhulme grant in 2011, she continued to research the counter-revolutionary and imperial role of internet and technology. As a media anthropologist, she combines ethnographic offline methodologies (long term participant observation and interviews) with critical theory and media analyses. Her work is published in several books and journals including her own monographs Palestine Online (IB Tauris 2011) and her forthcoming Mediating the Makhzan (2021). She teaches Middle East politics, Critical theory of the internet and Global media. She is a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism and temporary institution going by the name of The Institute for Technology in The Public Interest (TITiPI).


    Inside Varia there is a gender neutral toilet on the ground floor of the space and free tap water is available. The sound levels may be high at times. For more information please check the accessibility description of the space at https://varia.zone/en/pages/accessibility.html and feel free to contact info@varia.zone for specifications if you would like to know more.

    How to Join To register interest in participating in this Worksession, please send an email to info@varia.zone with [colonial infrastructures] in the subject, by Wednesday 30th November 2022.

    Spaces are limited so we will accept participants as emails arrive. Attendance on both days is important & appreciated. The worksession is organised by Sofia Boschat Thorez and amy pickles.