Boundary2’s online journal recently published a special issue, edited by WSA’s Ryan Bishop, on “Frictionless Sovereignty”. The special issue can be accessed from the journal’s website. Here, Ryan talks about the collaborations and research interests from which the special issue grew.
This special issue has a long and strange gestation actually. Its first instantiation comes out of work in a collaborative group between WSA (Jussi Parikka and myself), Univ of California San Diego (Ben Bratton and Jordan Crandall) and the New School in New York (Ed Keller), in which we examined remote sensing systems, computational platforms, algorithmic culture and governance, and robotics from theoretical and artistic perspectives. We co-curated an exhibition at UCSD, held panels and at transmediale (Berlin). This collaborative endeavour began in 2012 and continued for a few years. I generated a number of articles related to this research and then put it aside to pursue some other book projects. Once done with those, I began to be revisit my earlier articles from the research collaborative agenda as I had become interested in the changing nature of some foundational elements of political philosophy wrought by these autonomous remote sensing systems and how they might affect notions of the political subject and state sovereignty.
Around this time, the journal Theory Culture and Society (whose editorial board I serve on) and the Association of Philosophy and Literature began considering jointly hosting a conference in Klagenfurt Austria. As we kicked around ideas for conference themes, streams and panels, sovereignty emerged as a potentially productive site. I agreed to put a panel together for this, but one panel turned into three as I spoke to friends and colleagues from the UK, the US, Singapore, Egypt and elsewhere, including my AMT and WSA colleague Mihaela Brebenel. The panels came off well, and I thought they could make a tidy special issue so I approached the journal boundary2, one of the leading critical theory journals in the world, and a venue I had published related material in. They had an initiated a new journal-based online platform that fit the agenda of our issue perfectly. I worked very closely with the editors of the online version of the journal, especially Arne De Boever, who also contributed to the issue. This allowed me to work a wide range of diverse scholars from different disciplines whose work I admire greatly as I edited the issue.