November 13, 2013, by ajzeg



An interdisciplinary conference on technology & resistance

University of Nottingham

Thursday 8th May & Friday 9th May, 2014





[mass noun]

The resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over another:

  • the action of one surface or object rubbing against another
  • conflict or animosity caused by a clash of wills, temperaments, or opinions

Oxford English Dictionary, 2013


We are now living in a frictionless economy in which money, jobs and products can move around the world in the blink of an eye. And yet we have not moved to a frictionless society. Rather, many of the technologies that support the frictionless economy create various forms of friction in society. Taking a lead from the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Critical Theory’s Technology and Resistance research strand, we are interested in proposals for papers and workshops that explore  the concept/metaphor of ‘friction’ as a starting point for exploring the relationship between everyday technologies and resistance;  with resistance understood in both a politically empowering and an inhibitory sense. On the one hand, we’re interested in modes of organised resistance: of activist movements making use of, or reacting against, technological developments. However we’re concerned with resistance in a second sense: of technologies resisting their intended function, breaking down, being exploited by hackers or triggering unexpected socio-economic complications.

We invite people to use the concept of ‘friction’ as a route into exploring these themes, with potential topics for discussion including (but not limited to):

  • Data and ethics
  • Cultural shifts relating to the capture of data
  • The vulnerability of software to hacking and surveillance
  • Resistance to  surveillance and data harvesting
  • Activist uses of data, particularly the circulation of leaked material
  • The politics of hacking
  • The exploitation of ambiguity in software design by hackers
  • Activist and everyday contestations of technological developments
  • The sociological and cultural factors required for technologies to ‘work’
  • Everyday and/or activist reappropriations of technology
  • Tensions between new technologies and existing infrastructures

We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers, including academics from Geography, Business, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies and Media & Communications: so we welcome a diverse range of perspectives and approaches to this theme.

Current workshop themes include: evil media; data, digital leaks and political activism; hacklabs and artistic uses of data.

With workshops led by: Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey; University of Leicester Technology Group; Jen Birks and John Downey; and Rachel Jacobs (Active Ingredient).

Further workshops and keynotes to be confirmed

We encourage interactive presentation formats, and will allocate longer time-slots to workshops to accommodate these, but also have space for shorter 20 minute position papers.

Deadline for proposals: 20th January 2014

If you are interested in participating please submit a 250 word proposal for a workshop or paper, along with your name and current email address, to

Please also feel free to contact us with more general enquiries, follow the Centre for Critical Theory’s Twitter account @criticaltheory or keep checking our blog for further updates.

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