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Elena Esposito: Virtual Contingency – Digital Techniques of Remembering and Forgetting

Jan 27, 19:30, 2014

Recent developments in the web show a way of managing/constructing memory and remembrance that is drastically different from familiar forms. The problem has moved from the excess of forgetting to the excess of memory: the web seems to remember everything. These practices can be interpreted in the broader framework of a Web Intelligence that has definitely abandoned the effort to reproduce and simulate the forms of human consciousness and intelligence and relies rather on the users’ interpretations to direct its own selections. The lecture presented the concept of “virtual contingency” to indicate the specifically digital way in which the web “feeds” on the uncertainty (contingency) of users in order to orient its own complexity.


Elena Esposito teaches Sociology of Communication at the Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia. Having studied Political Sciences and Philosophy with Umberto Eco at the Università di Bologna, she gained her doctorate with Niklas Luhmann for her dissertation entitled Die Operation der Beobachtung. She held a research fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung at the Free University of Berlin, and a position as visiting professor at the University of Vienna. In 2001, she habilitated at Bielefeld University and received her Italian “idoneità” in Sociology. She published many works on the theory of social systems, media theory and the sociology of financial markets. Recent publications include The Future of Futures: The Time of Money in Financing and Society (2011); “The structures of uncertainty: performativity and unpredictability in economic operations”, Economy and Society, 42 (2013); and Die Fiktion der wahrscheinlichen Realität (2007).


Time: Monday, 27 January 2014, 19:30

Venue: ICI Berlin

In English


The lecture was part of the ICI Lecture Series Constituting Wholes II, which seeked to re-examine the critical potential of notions of wholeness by exploring the double movement in constituting wholes. How are wholes and other forms of association differently constituted and how do they constitute their parts or elements? How can one maintain a critical position towards persistent wholes without making them inescapable and foreclosing the possibility of reducing violence and arriving at more benign forms of association? Conversely, how can one be attuned to heterogeneities and potentialities without participating in the reparation of existing structures of domination? Conceived within the framework of the multi-discipinary ICI Research Focus ‘Constituting Wholes’, the lecture series addressed and debated these and similar questions from a variety of perspectives.


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