Meccsa 2012: politics, embodiment & digital networks

My paper abstract for the 2012 Meccsa Conference in January has been accepted. I will be presenting something along the lines of:

Materialising practices: The embodiment of politics in digital networks


Online research tools increasingly constitute methods of civil society research and visualisation. The development of co-link analysis search engines and visualisation software like Issue Crawler have been informed by framings of the web as an actor in democratic processes (for example Marres 2006). This paper would like to suggest that technoscientific practices producing visual or other knowledge about political activity shape our ways of imagining social change, by materialising models of political engagement. Building on Karen Barad’s (2007) framework of “posthumanist performativity” and Michael Warner’s (2002) model of publics, itasks questions about the materiality of digital networks and the politics of information culture. The paper draws on empirical research that used Issue Crawler to visualise the communicative activity of London based women’s groups and proposes that we can think of emerging publics as assemblages of human and nonhuman discursive practices. To this end, it revisits the role of circulating texts or public discourse in the formation of publics in Warner’s (2002) model and offers an understanding of what embodiment and performativity means in digital networks. The paper thus seeks to contribute to wider debates in digital media about the interdependence of technology and culture, information and embodiment, and the political implications of this reciprocity.


Barad, K. (2007) Meeting the universe halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. London: Duke University Press.

Marres, N. (2006) Net-Work Is Format Work: Issue Networks and the Sites of Civil Society Politics. In J. Dean, J. Asherson and G. Lovink (Eds.). Reformatting Politics: Networked Communications and Global Civil Society. London: Routledge.

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. New York, Zone Books.

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