Building Education for the Commons
It’s an honor to interview Prof. Karatzogianni who is currently the Postgraduate Research Director in the Department of Media & Communication at the University of Leicester. You can follow Prof Karatzogianni on twitter.
Q: Prof. Karatzogianni, how would you describe your research interests?
Athina Karatzogianni: I am passionate about researching what is a period of intense encounters of the cyber with the global political arena: the proliferation of sociopolitical activist networks, as well as ethnoreligious, insurgent and terrorist networks; social-media enabled political protests and mobilizations leading to social or political change; increased resistance to surveillance and censorship of global communications, uncovering significant tensions in the use of ICTs both by states and corporations. Currently, I am researching ideology, affect and organization in new sociopolitical formations for a Economics and Social Research Council (UK) project on ethics and rights in cybersecurity.
Q: Where have you published your work?
AK: I have published five books with Routledge and Palgrave, various articles for example with Politics, International Communication (IJOC), and Capital and Class, and chapters in volumes relating to digital media, war, communication, surveillance and censorship, and specific area studies publications relating to China and Russia. I recently submitted an article to New Formations for a special issue on societies of control. I have also engaged with more public media related publications over the years. A list can be found here http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/media/people/athina-karatzogianni-publications Most of my published work can be read in pre-publication form here: http://works.bepress.com/athina_karatzogianni/
Q: Who are your greatest philosophical influences?
AK: Influence as a word fails to describe it for me, but not one to evoke semiotics when the atmospheric request is clear, I would say Hegel, Nietzsche and Bergson in the ontological, Deleuze/Guattari and Baudrillard in the political, and I am happy to admit a soft spot for Žižek’s work, as much as his public intellectual performance. My friendship and research collaboration with Andrew Robinson since we met in Nottingham in 2001 is having a great and lasting impact.
Q: What advice would you offer graduate students today?
AK:To pursue research that nurtures their intellectual soul first, before any other public, professional or career considerations. The obsession with neoliberal mechanisms of performance evaluation in academia means that graduate students get slowly coopted in a game of recognition and career advancement which, if not ignored, can become a catastrophic obstacle. Not just for doing outstanding research that makes claims and delivers, but in making bold claims which can inspire self and others to engage in reality-transforming projects. It is not fun to be a termite climbing on top of other termites, when you can do so much more.
Q: What’s your next book going to be about?
AK: Firebrand Waves of Digital Activism 1994-2014: Studies on the Rise and Spread of Hacktivism and Cyberconflict is my next book and is currently in production with Palgrave MacMillan. The book introduces four waves of upsurge in digital activism and cyberconflict. The book’s thesis is that there is a constant transformation of digital activism beyond its symbolic and mobilizational qualities, as we have experienced it since 1994 and that it is likely to enter a phase of mainstreaming as ‘politics as usual’: an established element in the fabric of political life with no exceptional qualities, normalized and mainstreamed by governments through collaboration with corporations and the cooptation of NGOs. Cyberconflict will revolve more around high-level information warfare of attacking infrastructure, rather than just using ICTs to mobilise or as a weapon for low-level societal largely symbolic attacks. The higher level character of conflict in digital networks will intensify to the extent that digital activism and cyberconflict of the last two decades shall pale by comparison.
Q: If you could teach one dream seminar, what would it be?
AK: My dream seminar would be about how to engage with current events in global politics, in order to identify potential media and communication or political sociology research streams. In my dream seminar we are discussing with other scholars all sorts of unconventional ways to employ philosophy, theory and research techniques to design research projects directly inspired from contemporary political life.