Call for Participation: Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa

Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa

The conference brings scholars, technologists, and cultural producers together on the island of Madeira: a European territory off the coast of Africa, a historical site of mutual entanglement between the Atlantic continents, and a point of departure for European expansion. Here we’ll strategize ways to revisit, reframe, and recode the future of technology on and for both continents.

What can African theorists, technologists, and cultural producers do to generate alternatives to the influx of neocolonial narratives of tech entrepreneurship? What are key epistemologies and ways of being which are endemic in Africa that should be offered to the world through new systems and processes? How can an African information economy avoid the dynamics of the resource curse, where connectivity is extractive and exercised upon African citizens rather than by and through them? What can Western technologists do differently, and what are the spaces for collaboration?

This conference aims to reinvestigate these relationships and more in order to engender dialog between African and Western audiences and participants, who should leave Madeira equipped with new strategies and new collaborative partnerships.

We are accepting papers, creative works, and technologies that explore or demonstrate alternative socio-technical approaches. Contributions should be grounded in analysis and move toward synthesis: we hope to paint the “art of the [radical] possible” and generate new threads and pathways for the development of fresh technologies.

Deadline for submission: May 1

Conference dates: September 1 & 2

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Call for Papers: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa

The Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) 17th Triennial Symposium on African Art, hosted by the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) Triennial Symposium August 8 – 13, 2017 will be held on the University of Ghana, Legon campus.

Open panel: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa
From Arnold Rubin’s comparison of art to a “system of tools and techniques by means of which people relate to their environment” (1991) to Alfred Gell’s idea of art as “a technology of enchantment” (1998), the study of African and non-Western art has proven fertile ground for art historical approaches using technology as metaphor for art as a mode of action in the world. The ideas of technology at play, however, most closely resemble techné, a term deriving from Ancient Greece to refer to the value-laden craft practice of pre-industrial societies, in which specialists serve functional needs while also conforming to society’s broader ethical and aesthetic values. Currently prevailing concepts of technology, however, in Africa as elsewhere, differ sharply. Technology as controlling, alienating, and disruptive coexists with notions of technology as liberator, economic salve, or ‘start-up innovation’; digital sound, 3D printing, cheap electronics and the Internet have opened up new semantic and aesthetic possibilities; while pioneering African technologies, such as M-Pesa and Frontline SMS, have transformed the terms of ordinary, everyday commercial and community engagement. What are the politics and poetics of new technological appropriations in African art (and art history)? How are artists responding to, or shaping, new socio-technical imaginaries? How do the discourses of Afrofuturism, speculative design, and ‘critical making’ (among others) inform artistic practice relating to Africa? Can technology be decolonized? How might we theorize anew relations among art, technology, and cultures of creativity? We invite submissions probing these and all related questions.

To submit a paper proposal, please send the following to Gemma Rodrigues (gemma.rodrigues at m-iti.org) by February 7, 2017:

– Paper Title
– An abstract of 250 words describing the theme and scope of your paper
– A short abstract of 100 words for online dissemination
– Contact name, affiliation, address, phone, e-mail

For further information, please email the panel co-chairs:

Gemma Rodrigues
Research Fellow
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
E-mail: gemma.rodrigues at m-iti.org

Michelle Kasprzak
Doctoral student
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Email: michelle.kasprzak at m-iti.org

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Ushering in the Era of Beneficial Intelligence

I recently was commissioned to write an essay for this year’s GOGBOT Festival. The festival theme was Post-Singularity, and my piece, entitled Ushering in the Era of Beneficial Intelligence, explored Stephen Hawking’s idea of “beneficial intelligence”, the Golem, our inherent biases, nuclear waste storage, the Anthropocene, and much more. You can read it on Medium.

 

 

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