On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

New article: Piracy as activism

In cultural industries, everyday life, file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I have a couple of new academic articles in the pipeline.

The first one to be published in 2011 is found in the bilingual online Greek journal Re-Public, which has a current theme issue on the topic of “piracy as activism”. The aim of this issue is to explore “pirate practices and subjectivities in terms of their resistance to the dominant organisations of everyday life” (quoting the editors’ own introduction), and it’s out now, available in both Greek and English.

“It takes (at least) two to tango” is a short article about the activist subject and the pirate subject – and how it seems impossible to maintain agential “purity” in an era that is characterised by an even more complex tangle of agency, in which we as subjects are embedded. My argument, in short, is that the forms of activism found online, connected to what is commonly called the “pirate” movement, are hard to separate from consumerism and entrepreneurialism, given that what is traded remains to be products from the cultural industry, and that all forms of establishment of hubs, sites and the likes are akin to (real or potential) commercial ventures, albeit of an “outlaw” or “rogue” kind.

Given the rather activist profile of the journal and its implicit audience, I aimed to make this article a bit more argumentative – and perhaps even provocative – compared to more scientific peer-reviewed articles. (Another article of mine is currently under review with Critical Studies in Peer Production, and is of the more scientific kind.) Given the other contributions in the same issue, I think my own Re-Public article fits very nicely as a thought-opener, alongside Roberto Verzola’s, Thanasis Priftis’s, and David R. Witzling’s expositions on what the term “piracy” really means; and the case studies of various countries like Brazil (Aline de Almeida Coutinho), the Philippines (Rolando B. Tolentino) and Somalia (Olivia Swift); as well as the interesting interviews with both Ernesto (founder of Torrentfreak.com) and one of my favourite contemporary theorists, Alexander Galloway. With respect to the different local case studies above, it should perhaps be mentioned that my own article is based on a case study of Sweden (home of sites like The Pirate Bay).

Altogether, a really interesting package from the editors and contributors, and a sign that things have been moving forward in the last years. More and more cultural researchers are showing interest for these kinds of issues, and there seems to be a rather established consensus in the academic community that “piracy” needn’t be as one-dimensional as the “captains of the industry” or legislators would have it. Likewise, the tension between piracy and activism is far from unsettled, and a rather complex thing. I hope that my article can inspire one or two more thoughts on the subject matter.

Note: My coming article for CSPP (mentioned above) is also a reflection on the particular case of Sweden and file-sharing, aiming to further problematize the “pirate movement”.

  1. please, could I email you. Im researching a related issue, perhaps you can shed a light.

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