No School! Automatic for the People IV


A reading group on the hopes and struggles of technology

7—9.30pm, Tuesday 14 January 2020.

Join us for the fourth session of Automatic for the People, a reading group on the hopes and struggles of technology – you can read more about the reading group here. You do not have to have attended the previous reading sessions in order to join us for this one. Pre-reading whilst helpful and encouraged, is not required.

If you wish to attend the reading group, please book your place by emailing us at by the 12th of January 2020.

For the fourth session, we will be reading extracts from texts* exploring ideas concerning the possibility of a borderless, frictionless world, which would be brought to the fore by the connecting properties of telecommunication currents. In the West, such techno-utopian ideas first flourished in the 1960s, exemplified in the writings of media theorist Marshall McLuhan and in his infamous proclamation about the advent of a ‘global village’. They were later challenged by history itself and postmodern theory, championing the so-called politics of fragmentation and identity.

In the wake of capitalist globalisation (occurring since the fall of the Berlin Wall), such ideas were again foregrounded andcelebrated in ideologically conflicted and antithetical realms. One the one hand, neoliberal ideologies celebrated the idea of a globally realised free market; whilst ‘fantasies’ of an interconnected, across-borders movement against capitalist globalisation dominated the political imagination of a large part of the left.

Ongoing polarisations at the site of the border urge us to rethink such utopian possibilities by grounding them in the material context wherein ‘connecting’ technologies operate. The extracts selected for this reading session explore different aspects of this topic, focussing on the socio-political and economic processes that define the permeability of a border.

*Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964)
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000)
Etiene Balibar, ‘What is a Border?’ in Politics and the Other Scene (2002)
Saskia Sassen, ‘Deciphering the Global: Its Spaces, Scales and Subjects’ (2008)
Jodi Dean, Democracy and other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics (2009)

This event is open to everyone.

If you have any accessibility requirements please let us know via and we can advise if we are able to accommodate. Please note that unfortunately Rhubaba does not have a wheelchair accessible toilet or any baby changing facilities and has one gender neutral bathroom. The gallery space is accessible by wheelchair; please email in advance (or knock!) and staff will assist with the door. Assistance dogs are welcome.