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Digital Public Goods and the future of the state: new constellations of (digital) statehood between entrepreneurship and state-led innovation 
Alena Thiel (IT University Copenhagen)
Baki Cakici (IT University of Copenhagen)
Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIIT, Bangalore)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

The panel invites critical examination of the forces that condition digital public infrastructure projects in various parts of the world, and how they unleash new forms of (digital) statehood.

Long Abstract:

Digital Public Good/Digital Public Infrastructures have become the new buzzword in development discourse as well as Technology Policy circles in developing and developed countries alike. While infrastructures have been a well-studied concept in STS, the notion of public good, its digital materiality and its relation to infrastructure are relatively new topics of interest within the STS community. The concept of public good has long been a prerogative of liberal economics that underline its non-exclusionary and non-rivalrous nature and as a result often push the responsibility of provisioning such goods to the realm of the state. At the same time, anthropologists have made serious attempts to re-appropriate the term public good by emphasizing its ethical undertone, indicating a common and shared goal desirable for a collective (Bear and Mathur 2015). We propose that a serious engagement with the notion of the public good can offer critical analytical insights into the working of the digital state. The panel welcomes contributions that discuss how contemporary digital public infrastructure projects are significantly shaping the future of statehood and specifically, how techno-imaginaries rooted in the notion of the digital public good condition these processes. How do imaginaries of progress and care inscribed in model systems catalyse the expansion of digital infrastructural platforms in realms of statehood? What expressions of the public good allow digital entrepreneurs to expand into realms of the state? Papers in this panel may focus on the substantive nature as well as ethical significance of material changes in practices of governance brought about by various manifestations of the public good in digital public infrastructure projects, including but not limited to ID systems and the ongoing platformization of the state and its service provision in digital public finance, health, and welfare.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2