CALL FOR PAPER – Digital Circulation: The Digital Life of Things and Media Technologies

Special Issue “Tecnoscienza”

 Digital Circulation: 

The Digital Life of Things and Media Technologies

Deadline June 15th, 2015.

Guest Editors:

Gabriele Balbi, University of Lugano (Ch)
Alessandro Delfanti, UCSD (Usa)
Paolo Magaudda, University of Padova (It)

Deadline for abstract submissions: June 15th, 2015.

As Arjun Appadurai highlighted about 30 years ago, things make sense through a process of circulation between worlds, history and social contexts. Far from flattening the meanings and materialities involved in the circulation of things and objects, contemporary media-driven society added new layers of complexity to the social life of digital things. The circulation of such objects represents a crucial dimension of digital media technologies and  digital things – files, standards, data and codes – can be seen as having biographies and life trajectories, travelling across different spaces and being governed by specific politics.

The role of digital media technologies in shaping collective flows has been highlighted by several perspectives, such as STS, media studies, cultural anthropology, consumer studies and cultural studies. In fact, studying digital materialities and infrastructures is a way to comprehend how contemporary social and cultural flows are actually embodied in everyday life and human relationships. Yet, there is need for a more multifaceted understanding of the specificity of digital things and their biographies. What happens if we focus on the objects that circulate through digital networks rather than on the infrastructure constituted by such networks?

Focusing on the digital circulation and the life of digital things has several further implications: the political economy of digital circulation is also part of power struggles in the digital realm, as the regulation of the trajectories of digital objects is framed by institutions and political actors; many of the supposed “revolutions” enabled by digital media technologies refer to some kind of circulation, as in the case of peer-to-peer networks, social networking sites or digitization of cultural items; social and collective practices on the Internet rely heavily on metaphors of circulation in terms of exchange and social relationships.

This special issue of Tecnoscienza. The Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies will address the multiple implications of the circulation and the social life of digital things, inviting contributions exploring this idea empirically, theoretically and historically from different conceptual perspectives and disciplines. With this special issue we also aim at recalibrating current discussions at the intersection between media studies and STS by using the digital circulation and life of digital things as an entry points to understand politics and materialities of digital networks. We are interested especially, but not exclusively, in contribution that consider the following themes:

  • The biographies and social histories of digital objects
  •  Technologies of circulation: standards, formats and infrastructures
  •  The politics and conflicts around and beyond digital things
  • Historical trajectories of media and technologies for circulation
  • The cultural, social and symbolic dimension of digital circulation in different spaces
  • Digital past and futures circulating in the imaginary of media technologies
  • Dematerialization of cultural practices and consumption
  • The (im)permeability of the social spheres where digital things circulate
  • Circulation as translation across different environments
  • Boundaries, frontiers and restrictions in digital circulation
  • Digital objects as commodities and piracy
  • Circulation as a metaphor and paradigm to understand digital media
  • Circulation as digitization of old and analog media
  • The political economies of digital circulation

Deadline for abstract submissions: June 15th, 2015.

Abstracts (in English) with a maximum length of 500 words should be sent as email attachments to and carbon copied to the guest editors. Notification of acceptance will be communicated by June 30th 2015. Full papers (in English with a maximum length of 8,000 words including notes and references) will be due in October 15th 2015 and will be subject to a double blind peer review process. We expect to publish the special issue in June 2016.

For information and questions, please do not hesitate to contact the guest editors:

Gabriele Balbi,  
Alessandro Delfanti,
Paolo Magaudda,

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