Gary Hall on Mon, 16 Jun 2008 02:27:21 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime-ann> cfp: Thinking and Making Connections: Cybernetic Heritage in the Social and Human Sciences and Beyond

Call for papers

Thinking and Making Connections:
Cybernetic Heritage in the Social and Human Sciences and Beyond

Södertörn University College
in cooperation with The Nobel Museum
invites you to an international conference on 10 – 11 November, 2008
Place: The Nobel Museum & Södertörn University College, Stockholm, Sweden.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Slava Gerovitch, lecturer in the history of science, MIT, USA: “Cybernetic
Translations: The Allure and the Menace of Cyberspeak”

Jasia Reichardt, writer on art, London, UK: “The Early Days of

Joanna Zylinska, senior lecturer in New Media and Communications,
Goldsmiths, University of London, UK: “Is There Life in Cybernetics?:
Designing a Post-humanist Bioethics”

Scientific committee

Prof. Teresa Kulawik
Egle Rindzeviciute
Ass. Prof. Rebecka Lettevall
Prof. Göran Bolin


Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics, a theory of control via feedback, emerged
from technological developments during World War II and was crucially
important for a wide range of sciences which arguably defined societies,
cultures and politics in the second half of the twentieth century. Concepts
of cybernetic control were distributed throughout such fields as genetics
and neurology, computer sciences and telecommunications, but also
organisational sciences, semiotics, political sciences and sociology.
Moreover, the influence of cybernetics was global, spanning different
political regimes as it developed both in liberal democracies and
authoritarian state-socialist countries.

Since the 1950s the scientific, political, social and cultural legacies of
cybernetics in the East and West have been increasingly addressed across
different academic disciplines. At its early stage the
post-industrialisation of societies was often identified with the spread of
cybernetic technologies, particularly information and automation. The third
or post-industrial revolution, famously conceptualised by Daniel A. Bell,
Jon Kenneth Galbraith and Peter Drucker, was also called the “cybernetic

As the history of cybernetics has been evolving for more than half a
century, it is time to look back and re-assess its role, meaning and
influence. What is the state of the art in the field of “cybernetic
studies” across a variety of disciplines? The conference aims to bring
together the leading scholars in the field, as well as to give an 
to young researchers to present their findings. We invite the participation
of scholars working in areas including, but not limited to, the history of
science and technology and science and technology studies (STS), history of
art and literary studies, media and cultural policy studies, political
sciences and sociology.

The ideas developed in cybernetics and systems theory have influenced
methods in social sciences, humanities and the arts. How can the history
and impact of cybernetics be approached in the light of new theoretical and
methodological developments? Equally, what lessons can be drawn about
contemporary states, societies and sciences if one scrutinises the more
recent impact of natural sciences on social sciences and humanities?
The context of the Cold War was important in the evolution of cybernetics.
The power of science and technology to make and break conceptual and
material connections – political, social and cultural – was especially
salient in the cybernetic case as it originated in, and was used in, the
military sector. As a part of an anti-Western campaign, cybernetics was
banned in the Soviet Union in the early 1950s, but about 25 years later it
was rehabilitated and mobilised to signify the cooperation between the
opposing regimes, communist and capitalist. As noted by Philip Mirowski,
the 1975 Nobel Prize was jointly awarded to the American and Soviet
economists, Tjalling Koopmans and Leonid Kantorovich. The prize was thus an
avowal of both the civic use of cybernetics and its capacity to transform
governance in different political systems. How can the recent history of
sciences and technologies be used to understand the processes of global
political ordering? How could “cybernetic studies” benefit studies of the
Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern enlargement of the
European Union?

Finally, we invite participants to address the influence of cybernetics in
contemporary cultures and societies. How are cybernetic principles
reflexively used in cultural production, especially new media, contemporary
arts, literature and museums? How can we conceptualise cybernetics’
contribution towards forming entire new platforms for cultural practices,
such as the internet? Papers focusing on the international dimension, 
the analysis and comparison
of European, Soviet and post-Soviet transformations in Eastern Europe and
the Baltic Sea Area are particularly encouraged.

Practical matters

The deadline for submission of proposals for a paper or a panel session is
Saturday, 30 August 2008.

The selected participants will be notified on 15 September 2008.

There is no special registration form. Paper and panel proposals (up to 500
words) are to be sent electronically to this email address:

Please note that an individual presentation should be no more than 20 mins
with an additional 10 mins allocated for questions and discussion.

A panel session should include no more than 3 speakers.

The conference language is English.

Thanks to the generous support of the Foundation for Baltic & East European
Studies (Ostersjöstiftelsen), Centre for Baltic and East European Studies
(CBEES) and The Nobel Museum, there is no participation fee, but
participants are encouraged to register no later than Friday, 10 October

The conference participants are encouraged to take care themselves of their
travel and accommodation in Stockholm.

Coffee breaks, reception and dinner will be provided by the conference
organisers for accepted and registered speakers.

For more information, contact the scientific co-ordinator,
Ms Egle Rindzeviciute at

Gary Hall 
Professor of Media and Performing Arts
School of Art and Design, Coventry University
Co-editor of Culture Machine
Director of the Cultural Studies Open Access Archive
Co-founder of the Open Humanities Press
My website

nettime-ann mailing list