Sangeet Kumar is an associate professor in the communication department and the director of international studies. He is the author of the Digital Frontier: Infrastructures of Control on the Global Web, published by the Indiana University Press (2021). In this book,  Kumar interrogates the world wide web and the digital ecosystem has spawned to reveal how its conventions, protocols, standards, and algorithmic regulations represent a novel form of global power. Kumar shows the operation of this power through the web’s “infrastructures of control” visible at sites where the universalizing imperatives of the web run up against local values, norms, and cultures. These include how the idea of the “global common good” is used as a ruse by digital oligopolies to expand their private enclosures, how seemingly collaborative spaces can simultaneously be exclusionary as they regulate legitimate knowledge, how selfhood is being redefined online along with Eurocentric ideals, and how the web’s political challenge is felt differentially by sovereign nation-states.

During the colloquium, Kumar will discuss the rapid enmeshing of our lives with the digital ecosystem has delegated many aspects of our social and cultural world to non-human automated processes that are operationalized through software and code. This presentation attempts a critical look at those processes (specifically the social media platforms they create) to show that they are embedded within and emerge from pre-existing cultural, social and ideological milieus allowing them to shape culture and knowledge instead of merely channeling them. This makes it an imperative to expand our definitions of culture and media to include these automated processes.

All are invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.

October 15, 2022