IViR Lecture Series: “Infrastructuring” Digital Sovereignty?

IViR is pleased to announce that
Francesca Musiani
will give a lecture entitled
“Infrastructuring” Digital Sovereignty?
Russia as a Pilot Case of an Infrastructure-Based Sociology of Digital
Self-Determination Practices

on Friday 29 October 2021


Today, a number of high-profile initiatives across the globe (including the Digital Services Act in Europe, the “Great Firewall” of China, Russia’s “sovereign Internet” and “anti-Apple” laws, and many others) are concrete implementations of the “digital sovereignty” principle: i.e. the idea that states should “reaffirm” their authority over the Internet and protect their citizens, institutions, and businesses from the multiple challenges to their nation’s self-determination in the digital sphere. According to this principle, sovereignty depends on more than supranational alliances or international legal instruments, military might or trade: it depends on locally-owned, controlled and operated innovation ecosystems, able to increase states’ technical and economic independence and autonomy. 

Presently, digital sovereignty is understood primarily as a legal concept and a set of political discourses. As a consequence, it is predominantly analysed by political science, international relations and international law. However, the study of digital sovereignty as a set of infrastructures and socio-material practices has been comparatively neglected. This lecture explores how the concept of (digital) sovereignty can be studied via the infrastructure-embedded “situated practices” of various political and economic projects which aim to establish autonomous digital infrastructures in a hyperconnected world. Although this talk is also a call for a wider and comparative research programme, I will focus here on the “pilot case” of Russia, which is the subject of an ongoing research project co-led by the speaker and funded by the French National Agency for Research, ResisTIC (Criticism and circumvention of digital borders in Russia).

Francesca Musiani is an associate research professor at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) since 2014. She is Deputy Director of the Center for Internet and Society of CNRS, which she co-founded in 2019. She is also an associate researcher at the Center for the sociology of innovation (i3/MINES ParisTech) and a Global Fellow at the Internet Governance Lab, American University in Washington, DC.

Francesca’s research work focuses on Internet governance, in an interdisciplinary perspective merging information and communication sciences, science and technology studies (STS) and international law. Her most recent research has explored the development and use of encryption technologies in secure messaging, “digital resistances” to censorship and surveillance in the Russian Internet, and the governance of Web archives. Francesca’s theoretical work explores STS approaches to Internet governance, with particular attention paid to socio-technical controversies and to governance “by architecture” and “by infrastructure”. Her research has been awarded the French Privacy and Data Protection Commission’s Prix Informatique et Libertés 2013, the OpenEdition Books Select distinction in 2019, and the runner-up CNIL-Inria Prize for Privacy Protection in 2019.

Her personal page is here and she tweets at @franmusiani

Date: 29 October 2021
Time: 16.00 – 17.30 CET (Amsterdam)
Place: This lecture will take place in hybrid form:
Institute for Information Law, REC A, room 5.24, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, Amsterdam
– Online via Zoom

See also the flyer.