Capitalism without Surveillance?

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Development and Change, p.18 (2020)

URL:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dech.12588

Digital Humanities

Over the last two decades African humanities scholarship has been powerfully moved by an interest in real and figurative archives in shaping the politics of knowledge. This curiousity about the power of official and private archives in setting the limits of what can be known has coincided with a global change in the forms and qualities of texts that last occurred in the 16th century. The rapid expansion of the Internet, and the proliferation of digital textual forms and repositories that it fosters, presents difficult questions about the project of Humanities scholarship which is so closely bound to the form of the printed book. But it also offers compelling opportunities to reconsider and reorganise the work of private and public archives, and their effects. In the wake of collapses in state-support for academic libraries and book publishing there are real opportunities for African scholarship in the new forms of access, distribution and curatorship that are supported by the Internet. But – when many universities on the continent have no reliable electricity supply – the digital revolution is itself potentially a source of new kinds of intellectual exclusion that must be addressed pragmatically and with cunning. In this theme WISER will mobilize the emerging tools of the digital humanities to investigate, and rework, the deep politics and effects of the inherited archive, of official record keeping, the form of the book and visual cultures.

African Futures

As major transformations unfold, our understanding of Africa, its past, its future and its relation to the world seems to be caught between two contending paradigms. The first is shaped by the discourse of crisis and disaster, emergency and survival. The second is future-oriented. It is preoccupied with Africa’s shifting position within the global economy and its apparent rise, the material and virtual flows and the infrastructures that connect Africa to its diasporas and the broader world, and to the social and aesthetic experiences of its inhabitants. This project will take stock of the contending discourses on African futures. It aims at drawing together in robust conversation a broad range of parallel debates currently going on in areas as diverse as literature, science-fiction, music and digital technologies, economics, futures markets, demography and public health, environmental studies, arts, design and fashion. It will also tease out the theoretical and practical implications of these discourses and the extent to which Afro-futurism could be read against similar trends elsewhere, in China, India, Russia and Brazil in particular.