Critical Habitations: Ecopolitics for teh Lulz

[Photo: ‘Anonymous’]

My text, ‘Ecopolitics for teh Lulz: Transmedia Civil Disobedience in the Age of Fossil-Fuelled Information Capitalism’, has been published in Critical Habitations as a contribution to its third debate, ‘Pluralising Practices.’ According to the editors Alexander Dunst, Elahe Haschemi Yekani, Gudrun Rath and Anja Schwarz:

Cultural studies today fork distinct trajectories, thus making it impossible to speak of a unified cultural studies agenda – an approach that already carries plurality in its name. This heterogeneity has been strengthened by the increasing emphasis on practices of decolonising knowledge and the need for new transcultural approaches that transcend the limitations of regional studies. On the one hand, this development highlights the necessity of translation: of languages, concepts, between different intellectual approaches. On the other, this decolonial momentum reasserts the status of cultural studies as a political project that exceeds academic knowledge production and opens itself to epistemologies from the outside that challenge the university’s Eurocentrism, gender and class gaps. Experimental forms of knowledge production at the intersection of artistic, academic and activist research have proven central to these developments. They are open to diverse publics and are co-produced in dialogue with them.

My contribution reflects on The Climate Games, Paris 2015 simultaneous to COP21 and addresses a lack of “cyberactivism” across The Games platform, which was designed to integrate street actions with networked knowledge-sharing and organisation.I draw on the pioneering work of the Electronic Disturbance Theatre and the Critical Art Ensemble alongside the recent activities of “hacktivist” collective Anonymous, to discuss resonances between online and street activism and the potential for their further co-development.

Civil disobedience is premised on an idea that activists visibly break the law and risk imprisonment, dramatising an issue in full view of authorities and the media, in order to expose a greater injustice (Sauter 2014: 21). One could then argue that DDoS tools are legitimised in that they enable activists to register their dissent via technical means, despite regulations designed by their more powerful adversaries in industry and government to prevent them from doing so. Thus, it is imperative that such actions remain disruptive rather than conform to predictable social actions, such as an authorised street protest. Given the harsh penalties that those who undertake DDoS face and that activists using such means risk being labelled cyberterrorists, there is a need to develop more secure, sophisticated and arguably spectacular means of undertaking such actions.

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