Building Europe’s next generation digital infrastructures


Datum: måndag 20 mars 2023

Tid: 13.00 – 14.30

Plats: B600

Mauricio Rogat joins us for his seminar on "Building Europe’s next generation digital infrastructures: reconfiguration of sovereignty and imagined communities".


The 2020 Covid19-Pandemic has catalysed transformations that characterise the digital age. The European Union’s “Recovery and Resilience Facility” plans to direct approximately €800 billion into its “NextGenerationEU” stimulus package, to build a “more digital and more resilient Europe” (European Commission 2021). In 2020, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, emphasised that the recovery plan is not an end in itself. Instead, “ is about Europe’s digital sovereignty, on a small and large scale”. The funding, expansion and maintenance of digital communication technologies, including the material infrastructures such as fibre optic cables or cell phone towers, are imagined as essential to the economic recovery, political sovereignty and social cohesion of the European Union. Their development is perceived as crucial to Europe’s future position in the world. Concurrently, the UK government is investing £600 billion into its infrastructure in order to become a “science and technology superpower” as part of its “Build Back Better” (BBB) recovery campaign (HM Treasury 2021); £50 million alone is allocated to the continuation of the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme in 2021-22, with the aim to “level up the UK” after the pandemic.

This presentation lays the ground for a postdoc project, part of a larger research project spanning four European countries. The overarching project proposes to think and investigate sovereignty through infrastructural and entrepreneurial ways of constituting and imagining éthnos and demos through technological innovations and conflicts that emerge where efforts to create new infrastructures meet existing ones. Is it possible that new constitutionalities are being imagined, practised, and produced here? Following conflicts and challenges arising around the implementation of digital infrastructures, the project draws on a mixed-method approach in two phases. The first one involves document analyses, participant observations, expert interviews, as well as netnographies and fieldwork in, for instance, think tanks and with actors implementing digital transformation. In the second phase, the project will identify local sites and environments where infrastructural imaginaries play out in everyday negotiations, reconfigurations and conflicts. In this seminar, I invite you to discuss the ethnographic methodological challenges vis-à-vis the theoretical ambitions of this project. 


Mauricio Rogat is a postdoctoral researcher at REMESO in the project SoLiXG: The Social Life of XG – Digital infrastructures and the reconfiguration of sovereignty and imagined communities.