Dec. 4th – Alessandro Delfanti

PLEASE NOTE: New location 126 Voorhies Hall RSVP to by 12/2/14 (lunch provided) Alessandro Delfanti NON-PARTICIPATION IN DIGITAL MEDIA Toward a Framework of Mediated Political Action

Thur, Dec 4th | 12:00 – 2:00 PM | 126 Voorhies

In Herman Melville’s novel “Bartleby,” the owner of a 19th century Wall Street law firm tells the story of one of his employees: Bartleby, the scrivener. As the story unfolds, Bartleby increasingly stops performing the tasks that are assigned to him, eventually refusing to eat and starving to death. Bartleby expresses negative choices: he would famously “prefer not to.” Can we draw a lesson from Bartleby that applies to contemporary digital politics? Perhaps, if we explore non-participation as a form of mediated political action rather than as mere passivity. We generally conceive of participation in a positive sense, as a means for empowerment and a condition for democracy. However, digital participation is not the only way to achieve political goals, and practices aimed at abandoning or blocking participatory platforms can be seen as equally politically significant and relevant. The evolution of the technologies and practices that compose the digital sphere forces us to reconsider the concept of political participation itself.  Alessandro Delfanti is a postdoc with the Innovating Communication in Scholarship project and has affiliations with STS and the Genome Center. Before joining UC Davis, he has worked and taught at McGill University and the University of Milan. Alessandro’s work revolves around the politics of digital media, as well as the significance of openness in the scientific enterprise. His first book is titled “Biohackers. The Politics of Open Science” (London: Pluto Press 2013).