Artistic map of the world
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How do visions of digital sovereignty differ between the Global North and the Global South?

Friday 29th September and Saturday 30th September

Cambridge, UK

This workshop organised with DAAD Cambridge brings together leading scholars of the contested politics of digital sovereignty.

This is a particularly timely topic: the concept of “digital sovereignty” has increasingly gained traction in recent years among policy makers and researchers alike.

In 2020, the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union even stated that it aimed to promote “digital sovereignty” as “a leitmotif of European digital policy” (Pohle and Thiel, 2021).

The 2013 Snowden revelations on mass surveillance online as well as the 2016 Cambridge Analytica Scandals around election interference drew attention to the multiple dangers of foreign companies storing and processing the data of EU citizens. But what would it mean for Germany and the EU, more generally, to achieve digital sovereignty?How is it talked about and what policies have been initiated to foster it?

Scholars in Germany and Austria have been the forerunners in addressing these questions and analysing the institutional politics and policies of digital sovereignty.

On the other hand, Cambridge-based Eastern European, Global North and Global South scholars have recently started drawing attention to the contested bottom-up politics of digital sovereignty, focusing especially on the infrastructural level.

By exploring resistance and negotiations around digital infrastructure on a planetary scale, these scholars have emphasised the importance of community values, local democratic participation, and indigenous understandings of territory in defining digital sovereignty.

Our workshop puts in dialogue the different perspectives outlined to address the following key questions:

-How do visions of digital sovereignty differ between the Global North and the Global South?

-How have recent geopolitical tensions affected the institutional and bottom-up politics of digital sovereignty?

-Is de-Westernizing visions of digital sovereignty necessary the same as democratising them?

Our aim is to foster a network for academic collaboration that will lead not only to a Special Issue but also to a sustained exchange of ideas in the study of the democratic politics of digital sovereignty.

Organised by: Julia Rone, Sebastian Lehuede and Hunter Vaughan

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