[artinfo] (fwd) Call for Papers: The Ethics of Waste in the Information Society

Andreas Broeckmann ab at mikro.in-berlin.de
Sat Mar 28 13:01:24 CET 2009

Call for Papers

Network Ecologies: The Ethics of Waste in the Information Society

Call for Papers for Vol. 11 (02/2009)
by Soenke Zehle, Matthias Feilhauer

Deadline for extended abstracts: May 1, 2009
Notification of acceptance to authors: May 15, 2009
Deadline for full articles: July 15, 2009
Deadline for revised articles: August 15, 2009
Publication: August 2009


The (emergent) transnational network of organizing around 
environmental and social justice issues in the global networks of 
electronics production is arguably the most vital area of  'network 
culture' when it comes to broader ecopolitical concerns. Given the 
fetishization of dematerialization-through-technology of an earlier 
generation of cyberlibertarian theorizing, we consider these efforts 
to have significance beyond the already broad array of issues related 
to the toxicity of computers and its implications to workers, users, 
and the environment.

The contemporary environmental justice movement has  already (and 
successfully) criticized conceptual frameworks that consider 
environmentalism a post-materialist luxury rather than a matter of 
survival, and made  visible the 'coloniality' of a wilderness 
tradition that had underwritten territorial expansion across the US 
and in other parts of the world. Yet while its organizational dynamic 
already incolves questions of historial and political epistemology, 
few people look to ecopolitics as a vehicle to advance broader causes 
of (cultural, economic, political, social) justice.  Which is why, 
for this issue of IRIE, we would like to invite suggestions on how 
our new (and old) networking machines might become the pragmata of a 
new ecopolitics, true ?matters of concern? (Bruno Latour) of 
info-ethical reflection.

With this issue, IRIE, dedicated to the development of information 
ethics as reflexive practice and conceptual horizon, aims to engage 
the broad range of materialities involved in acts and processes of 
communication, information, and knowledge production. This includes, 
but is not limited to, the very instruments we employ, use, and 
discard in ever-shorter cycles of consumption, outpacing our efforts 
to develop appropriate mechanisms of disposal and recycling : from 
old television sets to lcd and plasma displays, from old disk drives 
to flash cards and rfid chips. Used locally, but designed, produced, 
and discarded across the world, the usage of these instruments ? 
things - raises a host of questions whose technical and political 
questions are increasingly being explored, but whose info-ethical 
dimensions deserve greater attention as they may requires us to 
revisit cherished assumptions regarding the scope and desirability of 
information-societal developments as we know them.

Electronics activism has already defined an agenda of environmental 
and social justice, drawing on number of perspectives such as 
environmental debt, environmental and resource rights, political and 
social ecology, resource efficiency, and occupational health and 
safety. In addition to giving rise to concrete initiatives in the 
areas of fair production, procurement, and disposal, these activisms 
also encourage a reappropriation of notion of sustainability. Since 
the UN 'Earth Summit' in 1992, sustainability has featured 
prominently in policy initiatives. And while for some, it has been 
discredited by its vagueness and widespread subordination to 
corporate visisons of self-regulation it might be revitalized to 
refer to the outcomes of (inevitable) ecological distribution 
conflicts, encouraging ecopolitics to venture beyond 
consensus-oriented paradigms of environmental governance. Such 
broader ecopolitical perspectives (or network ecologies, the term we 
would like to suggest as an umbrella concept) can serve as an 
integrative idiom to combine important vectors of inquiry that open 
up more general descriptions of the contemporary conjuncture.

We therefore invite contributors to reflect on the question of a 
'sustainable' information society from within an ecopolitical, 
info-ethical horizon. Suggested topics include:

No single injunction to reuse or reycle will resonate across all 
net.cultures. What role do questions of translation, inter- and 
transculturality play in the articulation of new ecopolitical 

Can info-ethics avoid the conceptual deadend of a culture/nature 
divide in its exploration of a politics of nature by way of engaging 
process-oriented, procedural perspectives on political ecology? If 
so, how does it address questions of agency and accountability?

What is the link between such network ecologies and aesthetic 
regimes, from postcolonial analysis of how 'we' have looked at nature 
to artists developing an ecopolitical aesthetics of disappearance?

What role might the open, decentralized creation of hard- and 
software play in the creation of sustainable ICT infrastructures?

The transnational networks of design, production, and disposal 
involve large numbers of migrant workers, often concentrated in 
export-orientated economic zones partially exempt from national 
(environmental, social) regulation. What role do questions of labor 
and the transformation of sovereignty play in the articulation of new 
ecopolitical perspectives?

What role do ICTs play in other ecopolitical controversies (climate 
change, water, food security)?


Greenpeace. Chemical contamination at e-waste recycling and disposal 
sites in Accra and Korforidua, Ghana. 2008.

Grossmann, Elizabeth. High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden 
Toxics, and Human Health. Washington et al: Island Press, 2006.

Latour, Bruno, and Peter Weibel, eds. Making Things Public: 
Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

Latour, Bruno. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into 
Democracy. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press, 2004.

Pellow, David Naguib. The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental 
Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy. New 
York: New York University Press, 2003.

Smith, Ted, et al., eds. Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and 
Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry. 
Philadelphia: Temple U niversity Press, 2006.

Stengers, Isabelle. ?Un engagement pour le possible.? Cosmopolitiques 
1 (Juin 2002). 27-36.

UNEP-Vital-Graphics. Vital Waste Graphics. E-Waste - The great 
e-waste recycling debate. October 2004. 

Schauer, Thomas, Markus Neuvonen, Matti Penttilae, eds. Information 
Technology, Competitiveness and the Environment. 

Schauer, Thomas. The Sustainable Information Society - Vision and 


Good Electronics Network <http://goodelectronics.org>
SACOM <http://sacom.hk/>
Taiwan Environmental Action Network <http://www.iepanet.org/>
Toxics Link <http://www.toxicslink.org/>
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition <http://www.etoxics.org>
Basel Action Network <http://ban.org/>

Abstracts and Submissions

Potential authors must provide an extended abstract (max. 1500 words) 
by May 1, 2009. Abstracts may be submitted in the native language of 
the author though an English translation of this abstract must be 
included if the chosen language is not English. IRIE will publish 
articles in English, French, German, Portuguese or Spanish. The 
author(s) of contributions in French, Portuguese, or Spanish must 
nominate at least two potential peer reviewers. Abstracts will be 
evaluated by the guest editors. The authors will be informed of 
acceptance or rejection by May 15, 2009. Deadline for the final 
article (usually ca. 3.000 words or 20.000 characters including 
blanks) is July 15, 2009. All submissions will be subject to peer 
review. Therefore the acceptance of an extended abstract does not 
imply the publication of the final text (August 2009) unless the 
article has passed the peer review. For more information about the 
journal see: <http://www.i-r-i-e.net>.

Please send your abstracts to the guest editors at:

Soenke Zehle <s.zehle at mx.uni-saarland.de>
Matthias Feilhauer <matthi at stdio.info>

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