Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University


Symposium schedule is archived here.

Networks have been attributed with changing global media, cultural and economic flows, and state power. Post-Cold War, post-911, we have witnessed the emergence of competing sources and mediations of power: global heteropolar networks, in which different actors are able to produce profound global effects through interconnectivity.

Varying in identity, interests, and strength, new global actors gain advantage through the broad bandwidth of information technology, for networked IT provides new global actors the means to traverse political, economic, religious, and cultural boundaries, changing, for instance, not only how war is fought and peace is made, but making it ever more difficult to maintain the very distinction of war and peace.

The ‘West’ and the ‘Rest’

The ‘West’ might enjoy an advantage in surveillance, media, and military technologies; but the ‘Rest,’ including fundamentalist terrorist groups, non-governmental organizations, and anti-globalization activists, have tapped the political potential of networked technologies of information collection, transmission, and storage. Technology has increasingly been used to separate Western civilization from barbarian others – the 911 terrorist pilots were referred to as “cave dwellers.” However, a serious examination of global networks makes impossible this separation, which is rhetorically perpetuated at our peril.

Importantly, networks set up new relations of inclusion and exclusion, while at the same time making this distinction difficult to maintain, for one does not need to engage directly networked technology to be affected by them, and being able to be “out of the circuit” increasingly seems a point of privilege rather than exclusion.

The Symposium

The InfoTechWarPeace Project presents a two-day symposium that explores the creative and destructive forces of global networks through the eyes of network theorists, media critics, industry experts, social scientists, and artists.

The symposium raises questions such as:

  • How do we assess the dangers of interconnectivity (networked terrorism, computer viruses, pandemics) against the vaunted benefits (global interdependence, increased transparency, higher productivity)?
  • Is the complexity of networks producing immune responses, cascading effects, and unintended consequences that defy human control?
  • What new forms of global security and governance are needed to manage the power, allocate the resources, and reduce the risks of networks?


James Der Derian is a Watson Institute professor of international relations (research) and professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. At the Institute, he directs the Global Security program and is the principal investigator of the InfoTechWarPeace Project. Der Derian’s most recent book is Virtuous War: Mapping the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network (2001). He also is the author of On Diplomacy: A Genealogy of Western Estrangement (1987) and Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, and War (1992), and is the editor of International Theory: Critical Investigations (1994) and The Virilio Reader (1998). His articles on the media, military, and information technology and the revolution of military affairs have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Quarterly, Nation, and Wired.

Annick T. R. Wibben is a Watson Institute fellow and the co-investigator of the InfoTechWarPeace Project. She received her doctorate in international politics from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth with a dissertation on 9/11 security narratives. In the fall of 2003, Wibben was a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow for Human Security in New York City, where she began a new project on human security practices. She writes about critical security studies, particularly from a feminist perspective. Most recently, she contributed to a special section on “Feminist Theories in IR” in the Brown Journal of World Affairs.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is an assistant professor in the Modern Culture and Media Department at Brown University. She combines her background in systems design engineering and English literature to inform her current work on digital media. Chun’s monograph on the crisis of disciplinary and regulatory power brought about by high-speed telecommunications networks—Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics—will be published in 2005; her co-edited collection (with Thomas Keenan) on the archaeology of multi-media titled New Media, Old Media is also due to be published in 2005. She was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and was awarded a Henry Merritt Wriston fellowship at Brown.