The Activist History Review invites proposals for our February issue, “Engineering Freedom: Technology, Politics, and the Death of Net Neutrality.”
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (led by Republican chairman Ajit Pai) voted to repeal Obama-era “net neutrality” restrictions that prevented internet service providers from charging websites more to broadcast their content at faster speeds. They did so against the wishes of a majority of American citizens from both major political parties. Many of us fear that, in the wake of net neutrality’s repeal, our ability to freely acquire, disseminate, and exchange information will be increasingly restricted over time. This is a particularly alarming possibility when we consider the Internet’s role as a democratizing force in our society. The rise of the Internet has allowed Americans and many members of the global community to easily exchange ideas, access information, demand institutional transparency, coordinate large-scale activism, and overthrow oppressive regimes. With net neutrality protections gone, the potential of the Internet to serve as a force for positive change is substantially diminished.
The Internet is only the latest in a long string of technological innovations that have facilitated the growth of more democratic political systems. Inventions like the printing press, the telegraph, the radio, and countless others have each, in their own way, expanded the political rights of and opportunities for disenfranchised communities. Just as often, however, technological developments have been used to restrict the freedom of specific groups. Improved sailing technologies, which enabled Europeans to cross oceans and circumnavigate the globe, served as the foundation of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism. The railroad, which sent news and goods hurtling back and forth from San Francisco to New York in the 1870s, ushered waves of U.S. colonizers into the American West, destroying indigenous communities, sovereignties, and lives.
TAHR invites proposals that examine the Janus-faced nature of technological innovation and its relationship to social change.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
• Innovation and revolution
• Political repression and technology
• Regulating new technologies
• Subsidies, innovation, and privatization
• Technology and activism
• Democratization and technological innovation
• Technology, journalism, and a free press
• Technology and genocide
• Net neutrality
• Technology, globalization, and wealth disparities
• Work and automation
• The Alt-Right and technology
• Technology and imperialism
• Technology, capitalism, and politics
• Marginalized groups and technology
Proposals should be no more than 250 words for articles from 1250-2000 words, and should be emailed to Nathan Wuertenberg by Monday, January 22nd at 11:59 PM. Please also include a short bio of no more than 100 words.