[tor-talk] Fwd: [P2P-F] cfp - The Social Productivity of Anonymity
moritz at torservers.net
Wed Nov 12 00:15:41 UTC 2014
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Subject: [P2P-F] cfp - The Social Productivity of Anonymity
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2014 23:33:22 +0000
From: Andreas Wittel <andreas.wittel at gmail.com>
Reply-To: P2P Foundation mailing list <p2p-foundation at lists.ourproject.org>
To: P2P Foundation mailing list <p2p-foundation at lists.ourproject.org>
Call for papers for an /ephemera /special issue on:
The social productivity of anonymity
*Issue Editors: *Götz Bachmann and Andreas Wittel
Anonymity is deeply tied to the European values of liberty, equality and
fraternity. Concealing one’s identity can enable freedom (as in the
anonymity of speech), support equality (e.g. in anonymous application
procedures), and provide the basis for non-reciprocal relationships as
expressed in the value of brotherhood (e.g. asking a stranger for
directions). It is capable of traversing cultural differences and is
essential for many contemporary forms of sharing, communality and
collaboration (e.g. commons based peer production such as Wikipedia
entries and open-source software). However, it is also contested and,
indeed, under threat: networked databases, biometric identification and
surveillance technologies such as CCTV are matched by discourses that
condemn anonymity and celebrate transparency and openness. Legal,
technological and moral imperatives towards transparency contribute to a
process in which anonymity is increasingly under attack. As a
consequence, the ‘end of anonymity’ has been declared in public
discourses, not only since the revelations of Edward Snowden. However,
this claim deserves to be scrutinised a bit further.
Using a more analytical perspective, it becomes apparent that anonymity
constitutes a specific form of social relation in which potentially
identifying markers of individuality and difference are dissociated from
specific individuals and collectives. This has the effect of creating
situational, relational and partial forms of unknowability,
invisibility, and untrackability (Nissenbaum, 1999; Ponesse, 2013). As
contemporary societies are increasingly based on networked
infrastructures we face new questions of how information, property and
people can be disconnected. This holds true with regard to phenomena
such as the international activist network Anonymous, internet-based
communication, and forms of ‘algorithmic anonymity’ (Rossiter and Zehle,
2014). The social, moral, and legal significance of anonymity is also
reflected in such controversial domains as baby drop-off boxes and
anonymous births, the anonymous donation of organs, gametes, and blood,
as well as peer reviewing and application procedures.
Research into current transformations of anonymity at the intersections
of technologies/infrastructures and politics is surprisingly thin.
Empirical scholarship is fragmented and theoretical conceptualizations
are rare (Nissenbaum, 1999; Frois, 2009; Wiedemann, 2012; Ponesse,
2013). With a perspective on everyday social and cultural practices
future research will be able to build on a number of ethnographies such
as Konrad’s work on egg donation (2005), Copeman’s comparative inquiries
into blood donation (2009), Frois’ exploration of anonymity in self-help
groups (2009), Lock’s ethnography of organ transplantation (2002), and
Coleman’s study of hackers who operate under the Anonymous label (2010,
2013). While these studies provide some methodological and theoretical
groundwork, none of them has addressed anonymity in its full complexity,
nor have they linked constellations of anonymity regimes across
different case studies.
To collect insights into the ways in which anonymity is modified,
maintained or abandoned in contemporary online-offline worlds, this
special issue will combine three areas of research into anonymity: (1)
research into technologies and infrastructures of information,
communication, surveillance and identification; (2) research into the
regulation, ethics and politics of anonymity; and (3) research into the
everyday practices of anonymity ranging from sperm donation to social
media, from peer review to police work, from political mobilisation to
While anonymity is a deeply ambivalent social form we are particularly
interested in contributions that defend anonymous interactions. Can we
develop a concept of anonymity that emphasises its cultural and
political values and its social productivity? Can we demonstrate that
anonymity enhances, enriches and strengthens the social?
We welcome contributions from a wide range of disciplines, looking for
Enquiries into the technical dimensions of anonymity: What forms of
standards, protocols, software designs, technologies and aesthetics
are shaping anonymity? How are they designed, decided upon,
regulated and changed?
Ethnographic case studies into local formations of anonymity,
especially those that connect online-based forms of anonymity with
Case studies on the macro and micro-politics of anonymity,
especially when anonymity becomes problematic. What undermines
anonymity in specific settings, who develops strategies in its
defence and to what aim?
Research into activist tactics and strategies for enabling
anonymity, and attempts to raise the public socio-technical literacy
with regard to managing identifying information (for example
Research into the legal, moral or ethical principles and
(historical) discourses, and how they are enacted, reflected,
criticized or recreated by heterogeneous actors while doing/undoing
Theoretical and empirical articles on the properties of anonymity,
such as blockages of tracing identification, continuities between
past and present and the prevention of reciprocity, and anonymity’s
duration, (non-)reversibility and dynamics.
Theoretical and empirical articles on ways in which anonymity
connects to concepts and practices of the person, the self, the
social, of private/public constellations, of statehood, property and
Potential contributors are asked to write an extended abstract (between
500 and 1000 words). Abstracts should be sent to both editors
(goetz.bachmann [at] leuphana.de <http://leuphana.de> and andreas.wittel
[at] gmail.com <http://gmail.com>). The deadline for the submission of
abstracts is *15 January 2015*. Notification of acceptance of abstracts
will be 1 March 2015, and the deadline for the submission of full papers
is *30 September 2015*. Please note that three categories of
contributions are invited for the special issue: articles, notes, and
reviews. All submissions should follow /ephemera/’s submissions
guidelines (*MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from
"www.ephemeraweb.org" claiming to be* www.ephemerajournal.org/how-submit
<http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/submit.htm>). Articles will undergo
a double blind review process.
Bauman, Z. (2011) ‘Is this the end of anonymity? From microdrones to the
internet, technology is invading the private sphere – with our
encouragement’, /The Guardian/, 28 June.
Coleman, E. G. (2010) ‘What it’s like to participate in Anonymous
actions’, /The Atlantic/, December.
Coleman, E. G. (2013) ‘Anonymous and the politics of leaking’, in B.
Brevini /et.al <http://et.al>./ (eds.) /Beyond WikiLeaks: Implications
for the future of communications, journalism & society/. Basingstoke:
Copeman, J. (2009) ‘Introduction: Blood donation, bioeconomy, culture’,
/Body & Society/,//15 (2): 1-28.
Frois, C. (2009) /The anonymous society: Identity, transformation and
anonymity in 12 steps./ Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Fuchs, C. (2009) /Social networking sites and the surveillance society.
A critical case study of the usage of studiVZ, Facebook, and MySpace by
students in Salzburg in the context of electronic surveillance/.
Salzburg / Vienna: Research Group UTI.
Hirschauer, S. (2004) ‘Peer-Review-Verfahren auf dem Prüfstand. Zum
Soziologiedefizit der Wissenschaftsevaluation’,/Zeitschrift für
Soziologie/,//33 (1): 62-83.
Kerr, I., V. M. Steeves and C. Lucock (eds.) (2009) /Lessons from the
identity trail. Anonymity, pseudonymity, and identity in a networked
society/. Oxford / New York City: Oxford University Press.
Konrad, M. (2005) /Nameless relations. Anonymity, melanesia, and
reproductive gift exchange between British ova donors and recipients/.
New York: Berghahn.
Levin, T. Y., and P. Weibel (eds.) (2002) /CTRL [SPACE]: Rhetorics of
surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother/. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Lock, M. (2001) /Twice dead. Organ transplants and the reinvention of
death/. Oakland: University of California Press.
Marx, G. T. (1999) ‘What’s in a name? Some reflections on the sociology
of anonymity’, /The Information Society/, 15 (2): 99-112.
Nissenbaum, H. (1999) ‘The meaning of anonymity in an information age’,
/The Information Society/, 15(2) 141-144.
Ponesse, J. (2013) ‘Navigating the unknown: Towards a positive
conception of anonymity’, /The Southern Journal of Philosophy/, 51 (3):
Rossiter, N. and S. Zehle (2014) ‘Toward a politics of anonymity:
Algorithmic actors in the constitution of collective agency and the
implications for global economic justice movements’, in M. Parker, G.
Cheney, V. Fournier & C. Land (eds.) /Routledge companion to alternative
organizatio//n/. London: Routledge.
Wiedemann, C. (2012) ‘Irrepresentable collectivity. Anonymous and the
technologies of the common’, in G. Cox and C. U. Andersen (eds.) /World
of the news/. Aarhus: Digital Aesthetics Research Centre, Aarhus University.
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