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Technopolitics, biopolitics and algorithmic governance: Cultures of resistance and countercultures of disbelief during the SARS-CovII pandemic 
Ana-Maria Cirstea (Durham University)
Elisabeth Kirtsoglou (Durham University)
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Tuesday 7 June, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

The panel explores how novel forms of biopolitical governance during the SARS-COVII pandemic were facilitated by AI and new technologies of control and surveillance, giving rise to cultures of resistance and countercultures of disbelief, mistrust and conspiracy.

Long Abstract:

In the context of managing the SARS-Cov II pandemic, technologies of governance proliferated and created new pathways of social control and surveillance. Digital contact-tracing was accompanied by other advanced technologies like thermal cameras and sensors, drones, and facial recognition. Once destined for military use and carceral surveillance, these technologies became mundane dispositifs that distinguished healthy from unhealthy bodies routinely forcing them to confess their symptoms. As public spaces were subjected to technopolitical control in an effort to contain the virus, AI facilitated the surveillance and securitisation of cyberspace in a similar effort to contain misinformation on Covid19. Algorithmic governance however, was soon found to extend itself beyond the management of the pandemic when data collected through China’s mandatory Alipay and Wechat Health Code was shared with local police. The ownership and blueprint of similar technologies of tracking and tracing often straddled between the state and private contractors, challenging democratic rules and norms of data protection. The implication of advanced technologies and AI in biopolitical governance rallied public imagination, created scepticism and eventually produced novel forms of discursive and practical resistance as well as countercultures of conspiracy and denial.

This panel invites papers from anthropologists, scientists, artists, and practitioners on the different uses and representations of technology during global health emergencies. It welcomes contributions that reflect on the imbrication of the biopolitical and the technopolitical, with an emphasis on emerging narratives and practices of resistance as well as countercultural articulations of disbelief, mistrust and denial.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 7 June, 2022, -