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From:
Chris Csikszentmihalyi <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:
Fri, 7 Apr 2017 12:58:26 +0100
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STRATEGIC NARRATIVES OF TECHNOLOGY AND AFRICA
SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 – SEPTEMBER 2, 2017
Abstract Due Date: May 1, 2017
[http://snta.m-iti.org]

Overview

In 1884, a group of thirteen European policymakers met to negotiate
standards for the "effective occupation" of Africa. At the time of this
now-infamous Berlin Conference, about 10 percent of Africa was under
European control. By 1914 Europe "controlled" 90 percent of the continent.

In 1987, a little over one hundred years after Berlin, a group of
technologists from fifteen European countries met on the island of Madeira,
and in a highly fractious and politicized meeting set standards to divide
time and radio spectrum, narrowly agreeing on the technical specification
of the GSM mobile telephone system. At the time less than 1 percent of
Africa was covered by phones. By 2014 mobile "penetration" in sub-Saharan
Africa was around 80 percent.

Africa was never mentioned in the Madeira meeting. Indeed the UK
representative described the spread of GSM to people globally, including
those who "live in the poorest countries on the planet," as an "unintended
consequence." Yet, mobiles have been described as “the new talking drums”
(de Bruijn), and a “communication lifeline” (Pew Research Center) that will
“pave way for huge opportunities” (Financial Times).

Phones have swept through the African continent in the last decade,
followed by WhatsApp, fiber, and mobile payment systems. As recently as
2000 Manuel Castells could call Africa "the black hole of the information
society," but now the World Bank speaks of the "African digital
renaissance," citing a proliferation of tech hubs and locally produced
apps. The "Africa Rising" narrative focuses on the peaks of a complex
terrain with many remarkable innovations and translations, while at the
same time access is almost wholly owned by Mark Zuckerberg and a handful of
telcos. In the valleys one government falsely tells its activist citizens
that it has cracked WhatsApp’s encryption, while another restricts the use
of Skype, and around the continent mobile operators extract the most rent
possible from their poorest customers, creating new forms of poverty.
International funders preach development through entrepreneurship, teach
tech innovation based on Silicon Valley models, and support mobile
application development for "strengthening social inclusion." Inclusion,
though, also means imbrication into a global financial information system
that is better known for its shocks than its comforts, with new forms of
micro-lending and mobile cash allowing neoliberal financialization of those
at the "bottom of the pyramid" and in the most rural areas.
The Conference

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? Taking as a given that Africa is “a
variegated site of innovation” (Mavhunga), 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? Technology is politics by other
means (Latour), even if its agency is generally dissimulated. How, then,
might we consider anew progressive social and political goals and their
conjoining with cultures of technical creativity already embedded in
Africa's diverse contexts of life? How might new strategic narratives
nurture and promote a vision of the continent as a crucible for radical new
socio-technical paradigms? 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 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 strategies. 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. We hope that this focus on the possible
near future will differentiate this event from many of the generative but
phantasmal Afro-futurist speculations and conferences. Creative works and
technologies eligible for consideration may include, but are not limited
to: software, technical systems (“low” or “hi”), images, objects, demos,
film/video, poetry, performances, interventions, illustration, and more.
Works will be selected by jury for an exhibition in Funchal, the capital
city of Madeira, at the galleries of the Colégio dos Jesuitas, a
re-purposed 16th century Jesuit compound.

Example themes include:

•Alternative globalist or transnational technologies

•African technical epistemologies

•Activist or political new media

•Re-coding remittances

•Technologies of migration and diaspora

•Technology and race

•Decolonizing ICT4D, Tech4D, and M4D

•Postcolonial computing

•Markets, math, and statistics of domination

•Histories of Africa and global production

•Non-western (or syncretic) applied science

•Anti-extractive technical and financial systems

•Artist’s critical interventions into technology and technical practice
Guidelines for Paper Submission

Abstract Submission Deadline: May 1

Authors Notified: May 22

Full Paper Submission Deadline: July 3

Authors Notified: July 24

Final Paper Submission Deadline: August 21

Abstracts of 1,000 - 1,200 words will be accepted for review. These may
include any additional materials, such as images or tables. The text of
your abstract must be anonymized for double blind peer review. Each
abstract will be read by at least three reviewers. After a period of three
weeks, authors will be notified of rejection, acceptance, or request for
revision. The ensuing abstract revision period will be three weeks.

Full papers must be no more than ten pages (2600 words), exclusive of notes
and bibliography. Each paper will be read by at least three reviewers.
After a period of three weeks, authors will be notified of acceptance or
request for revision. This revision period will also be three weeks. Please
use the Chicago Manual of Style, latest edition, for matters of style,
capitalization, spelling, and hyphenation. Citations should be Chicago
style [Notes and Bibliography]. The Manual can be found here:
http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.
Guidelines for Creative Work and Technology Submission

Creative Work and Tech Submission Deadline: May 1

Creators Notified: June 1

We will accept works including (but not limited to) software, technical
systems (“low” or “hi”), images, objects, demos, film/video, poetry,
performances, interventions, illustration, and more. Submissions should
include an abstract or project description of 500 words or fewer and this
supplementary form
<https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_lud_X8wf7bBPcUwp3lICN_V7XmzQQQdaFkJbIW4p-E/edit?usp=sharing>,
saved as a PDF. As appropriate, your submission may include an additional
PDF of images or plans, an URL to a website or video (under 3 minutes)
documentation, and display or technological requirements. The text of your
abstract or project description must be anonymized for double blind peer
review. Each description will be read by at least three reviewers.

Note that the conference cannot offer funding to help produce projects or
to transport them. We will have exhibition space and staff to assist with
installation; the conference program will include exhibition tours and
demonstration periods, and we will publish online documentation of the
exhibitions.
Submission

Submissions will be processed using the *Open Conference System. *You will
need to create an account with this conference before submitting your
materials. Please follow this link
<http://snta.m-iti.org/index.php/snta/snta/user/account> to initiate the
process.

The submission deadline for both papers and creative works is *May 1, 2017*
.


-- 
Chris Csíkszentmihályi
ERA Chair & Scientific Director
Professor
[image: m-itiLogo] <http://www.m-iti.org/>
------------------------------
www.m-iti.org | [log in to unmask] | edgyproduct.org <http://edgyproduct.org>

* "Art means… to resist the course of a world that unceasingly holds a gun
to mankind's chest."

--Theodore Adorno*

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