Civil Disobedience Beyond the State

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The Digitalization of Disobedience from Whistleblowing to Anonymous

From the Civil Rights Movement to Occupy, civil disobedience is an essential part of the history and present of liberal democracies. At the same time, however, this form of protest has remained theoretically and politically contested. Currently, there are two central and interrelated phenomena that are triggering a significant transformation of civil disobedience: globalisation and digitalisation. Jointly, they raise new theoretical and political challenges that require a rethinking of civil disobedience beyond the state. With this workshop – the second in a series of three – we aim at contributing to this rethinking from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives.

The focus of this workshop is the emergence of digital tactics of civil disobedience. Recently, two digital practices have emerged as prominent new forms of civil disobedience, thereby challenging the traditional understanding: Anonymous and Whistleblowing. In three sessions with presentations from our speakers followed by a set of short comments and an open discussion we will address the digital turn of civil disobedience and its implications for political theory.


  • Gabriella Coleman (McGill University, Montreal)
  • Joss Hands (Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge)
  • Manohar Kumar (Indian Institute of Technology Delhi)
  • Geoffroy de Lagasnerie (l’École nationale supérieure d’arts de Cergy-Pontoise, Paris)
  • Bill Scheuerman (Indiana University, Bloomington)
  • Jillian C. York (EFF, Berlin)


Friday May 8, 2015

13:00 – 13:30 Welcome and Opening
13:30 – 14:15 Lessons learned and emerging questions
14:15 – 16:15 Session 1: Weapons of the Geek? Anonymous and civil disobedience
16:15 – 17:00 Break / Location change
17:00 – 18:30 Public Lecture: Gabriella Coleman The Lecture will take place at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Vorlesungssaal R. 2091, Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin. Register here for Gabriella Colman’s public Lecture.

Saturday May 9, 2015

09:30 – 10:00 Coffee
10:00 – 12:00 Session 2: Whistleblowing – the new Civil Disobedience?
12:00 – 13:30 Lunchbreak
13:30 – 15:30 Session 3: The Digital Turn of Civil Disobedience?
15:30 – 16:00 Coffeebreak
16:00 – 17:00 Concluding Session / Goodbye


Robin Celikates (University of Amsterdam) Annette Zimmermann (University of Oxford) Theresa Züger (Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society)

This workshop was organised with the financial support of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, the Amsterdam Center for Globalisation Studies, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.


Participation on registration only. Please contact: