RE:activism: Re-drawing the boundaries of activism in a new media environment [Conf]

RE:activism: Re-drawing the boundaries of activism in a new media environment

Budapest, 14-15 October, 2005

Organised by The Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the Central European University, the Open Society Institute, and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: June 14, 2005


The emergence of the internet and other information technologies gave birth to a plethora of new social and communicative activities. Cheap, decentralized and horizontal communication channels have been exploited by a wide spectrum of actors from antiglobalization activists and users of file-sharing networks to creative commons licensees and locative guerilla artists. As new media technologies have triggered various forms of activities, the New Left hopes about emancipatory social agency have also been resuscitated.

In spite of the undeniable democratic potential inscribed in new information and communication technologies, there seems to be little agreement as to what consequences new media bring on existing structures of cultural, economic and political power. Those analysts and activists envisioning a more democratic, equitable and culturally diverse society have maintained high hopes concerning the progressive potential of new media. Meanwhile, skeptical voices can also be heard: research focus has been reoriented towards threats and uncertainties concerned with new technologies. Many analysts have addressed various aspects of the commercialization of new media, the possibilities of digital surveillance and states’ and corporations’ constant efforts to limit, by means of regulation, the liberatory potential of new technologies.

Addressing the above hopes and disappointments, the conference RE:activism serves as a large scale, international social and academic event which brings together academics, activists and artists to explore and discuss some of the most important aspects of transforming cultural and political practices in the context of new media. The organizers are particularly interested in the following problems:

  • How the boundaries separating center (accepted/valuable) and periphery (illicit/worthless) are redrawn through the negotiations of new media actors, be they individual music consumers, expert groups, creative commons licensees, social movements, nation states or corporate representatives?
  • Does the enabling potential of new technologies trigger, in reality, new forms of social and communicative activities? What turns new media enabled activities into "activism"? What does activism mean in the context of new media?
  • Under what conditions do unusual uses of new media induce social change and subvert old structures of the production and the distribution of loyalties, identities, culture and knowledge?

Participants of the conference are invited to explore the promises and limitations of new media along the above broad themes of "center/periphery", "activism" and "change".


At the moment (4/14/2005) the following academics and activists confirmed their attendance:

Yochai Benkler (Yale Law School), Douglas Kellner (UCLA), Saskia Sassen (Univ. of Chicago), Nicholas Jankowski (Univ. of Nijmegen), Michael X. Delli Carpini (Annenberg School for Communication, Univ. of Pennsylvania), Henry Perritt (Kent College of Law), Kembrew McLeod (Univ. of Iowa), Barbie Zelizer, (Annenberg), Andy Bichlbaum (, Dr. Richard Barbrook (School of Media, Arts & Design, University of Westminster), Giles Lane (, Michael Keith (Boston College), Alexander H. Trechsel, (European University Institute), Jonathan Zittrain (Berkman Center for Internet & Society), Martin Cloonan (index on censorship)


The RE:activism conference offers eight panels, each of them representing an important approach from which the transformative potential of new media can be meaningfully addressed. We invite academic participants to present papers and take part in round table discussions with activists in one of the following panels:

  • Political economy of peer production networks
  • State intervention and regulatory issues in the Information Age
  • Digital culture jamming
  • Digitalized memory: new forms of archiving and journalism
  • Civic uses of new media technologies
  • New media and global civil society
  • New media and democratic elections
  • New media activism and the urban fabric

For more information about the eight panels, please, visit the conference website:

Organizers of the conference invite submissions of graduate students, scholars, researchers mainly from the fields of anthropology, media studies, law sciences, sociology, art theory and political science.

One Comment

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