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Call for Papers: #OccupyCriticalTheory

photo of Franco Iacomella

Franco Iacomella
17th February 2012


One of the main achievements of the Occupy movement has been the opening up of new spaces of transformation, resistance and revolution, breaking the claustrophobic confines of the geography of global capital. The movement itself breaks the boundaries of accepted political terminology, opting to trouble the reigning order by speaking from a position outside of the official political discourse. From the perspective of the ruling ideology, the Occupy movement appears to lack focus and organization since it does not propose any set of ‘demands’ – that is, in the language adopted by the everyday. The point, though, is not to speak in the language of the existing order, but to change the co-ordinates of the existing order so that what appears as irrational and traumatic from its own perspective becomes, itself, the structuring principle upon which the conditions of possibility for a new politics may be given form. The emerging political-emancipatory subject of the Occupy movement – the so-called “99%” – has itself been created out of the internal limits of the dynamics of capitalist expansion.

The Occupy movement, as well as the wave of resistance movements in North Africa and the Middle East, dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’, has coincided with changing conditions of mediated communication, the advancement of social media, the development of new mobile media technologies, and the significance of ‘whistle blowing’ websites, such as Wikileaks. These conditions are also met by an increase of ‘hacktivism’ by groups such as Anonymous. The year 2011 was also marked as one of significant political resistance and upheaval by the announcement of Time Magazine that its person of the year is non-other that the (anonymous) ‘protestor’.
But what kind of changes are we witnessing, exactly? Is it really global capitalism collapsing under its own weight? Is it true that it’s a battle of the 99% and the 1% of the world’s population—are we witnessing the long-awaited global revolution of the people that Leftists have been dreaming about for almost two centuries? What will come out of all these revolutions—will it be appropriated by existing politics or will a completely new body of political thought and action come out of it? Naomi Klein dubbed the Occupy movement as “the most important thing happening in the world right now.” But what are the potentials we need to realize and the threats we need to make ourselves aware of regarding this most important thing?

We seek papers that deal with, but are not limited to, the following issues:
- What kind of change are we witnessing with these new exercises of people power? Could it be an ontological change that would redefine the way we perceive the existence of power itself, its structures, and our own roles in global politics?

- What connections are evident between the rise of the occupy movement, new media technologies, and emerging forms of emancipatory subjectivity?

- What kinds of space are created in the occupations? How do occupations and their self-sustained camps structure and change ideological definitions of public vs. private spaces? Why does it bother authorities so much?

- What role does space play in the relationship between political subjectivity and the visual quality of the movement?

- What potential new bodies of politics will emerge stronger after this? Will newfound bodies of technologically-enabled politics such as dynamic P2P democracy to the hacktivists’ potent adhocracy play a more significant role in future societies? Will alternative currencies (bitcoin, etc) and banking systems begin to replace the old ones?

Cyborg Subjects (www.cyborgsubjects.org) takes great pleasure and active interest in placing these issues at the core of its next project. We invite all interested authors to send full-length articles (3500 words maximum), short commentaries (500-800 words), interviews or book reviews (1000-1500 words) to submissions@cyborgsubjects.org. Artworks, videos, performances, etc. related to the topic are also very welcome.

Please send in your work by April 23, 2012.

Contributors are free to use any reference style systems (e.g., APA, Harvard etc), as long as they are consistent in how they cite their sources throughout the article, and use endnotes, rather than footnotes, for citations.

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