Marcela Suárez Estrada: Internet as a Territory: Power and Colonialism in the Digital Era

20. November 2023

Marcela Suárez Estrada (Berlin / Berkeley)
Internet as a Territory: Power and Colonialism in the Digital Era

Data extractivism, algorithmic governance, and corporate control of internet operations are part of the current regime of digital colonialism that is increasingly impacting territories in the Global South. Inspired by Latour’s concept of terrestrial politics (2018, 2020), this presentation will answer the following question: What are the dynamics of the disputed spaces that support the internet, and what are their effects on territories and ways of life in the Global South? Using the metaphor of the internet as a territory, I argue that digital technologies are producing social spaces that are far from immaterial, neutral, and abstract. I will discuss the idea of the terrestrial internet and its links to power and colonialism in the digital era. Data centers and mining extractivism result in arduous social conflicts with strong impacts on political and social inequalities. However, collectives are also mobilizing new figurations to fight these power relationships. From decolonial and feminist endeavours, metaphors such as the internet as territory or body-territory are being mobilized to inhabit the internet as a social space. This presentation will contribute to current discussions on the relationship between digital technologies and the Anthropocene and the new social figurations that are emerging to resist digital colonialism in the Global South.

Marcela Suárez is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Latin American Studies at University of California, Berkeley. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the Freie Universität. Her areas of specialization are the terrestrial internet, digital violence, governance of the internet, feminisms, and digital culture.