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Digital statecraft 
Julia Valeska Schröder (Humboldt University Berlin)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

With the concept of ‘digital statecraft’, this panel shifts attention from the technocentric notion of “digital transformation” to sociomaterial transformation practices. It serves as a heuristic to foreground both, practices of state-making and digital technopolitics, thereby contributing to analyze the renewed etatization of digitalization.

Long Abstract:

The state celebrates a grandiose comeback in digital imaginaries and practices of digitalization. Proliferating enterprises of the "digital state", "smart city” and the “digitalization of administration” revolve increasingly around the notions of “digital sovereignty” and “public innovation”. Moreover, governmental tools and mechanisms reclaim front stage, being discussed as “Smart Governance” and “GovTech”. In Germany openly proclaimed as "Neustaat" (CDU/CSU), this renewed intersection of “the state” and “digitalization” demands a critical examination.

Practices of digital statecraft mobilize digital technologies and infrastructures to medially translate the existing political-institutional system and complement, expand or replace it technologically. Moreover, they negotiate the idea of the state and sovereign politics itself: “the state” is reframed as an infrastructural power, as infrastructural practice or infrastructural experiment. In this statist or governmental turn of digitalization, the state is reconfigured as subject and object of transformation.

In this panel, aims to explore in what ways the proclaimed “digital transformation” is enacted as digital statecraft by asking:

- How is state sovereignty over digital infrastructures reinterpreted or reinforced?

- How are sovereign institutions reinvented and reconfigured through digital infrastructures?

- How is “the digital” mobilized as assembling practice of 'the state” and “sovereignty'?

Contributions are highly appreciated that

- unpack notions of “digital sovereignty”, “public innovation”, “digital state” or the like

- analyze digital technopolitics beyond the dazzling virtualization, mechanization, and modernization master narratives

- explore contemporary (re-)configurations of “the state” and “the digital”

- focus on practices of digital statecraft, its modes of operation, its digital and more-than digital tools

- contextualize digital statecraft in administrational reforms (“New Public Management”, “Smart Governance” etc.), (neo-)cybernetic genealogies and digital capitalism

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2