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Technical Territories: Data, Subjects, and Spaces in Infrastructural Asia

by Luke Munn

University of Michigan Press, 2023


eISBN: 978-0-472-90337-5

Cloth: 978-0-472-07603-1

Paper: 978-0-472-05603-3

About the Book

Territory is shifting. No longer defined by the dotted line of the border or the national footprint of soil, today’s territories are enacted through data infrastructures. From subsea cables to server halls, these infrastructures underpin new forms of governance, shaping subjects and their everyday lives. Technical Territories moves from masked protestors in Hong Kong to asylum-seekers in Christmas Island and sand miners in Singapore, exploring how these territories are both political and visceral, altering the experience of their inhabitants.

Infrastructures have now become geopolitical, strategic investments that advance national visions, extend influence, and trigger trade wars. Yet at the same time, these technologies also challenge sovereignty as a bounded container, enacting a more distributed and decoupled form of governance. Such “technical territories” construct new zones where subjects are assembled, rights are undermined, labor is coordinated, and capital is extracted. The stable line of the border is replaced by more fluid configurations of power. Luke Munn stages an interdisciplinary intervention over six chapters, drawing upon a wide range of literature from technical documents and activist accounts, and bringing insights from media studies, migration studies, political theory, and cultural and social studies to bear on these new sociotechnical conditions.

About the Author

Luke Munn is a Research Fellow in Digital Cultures & Societies at the University of Queensland.

“This book dramatically reconfigures network territory. Extending from information centers through apparent peripheries, tracking new forms of spatialized power along edges and in zones of exclusion, Technical Territories offers new and critical insight to the study of networked infrastructure.”
—Nicole Starosielski, New York University
— Nicole Starosielski

Technical Territories makes a strong case that we cannot ignore how developments in the data infrastructure arena are shaping geopolitics and international relations. This is an important contribution—one that focuses attention on the influence of material developments for how we think about and understand the changing political geography of the planet.”

—Alexander B. Murphy, University of Oregon

— Alexander B. Murphy

"This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book of potential interest to any reader inclined to ponder the implications of digital culture for world society, human rights, and governance."

"Munn’s work provides a new, imaginative framework to unpack relationalities between infrastructural operations, flow of capital, and flow of information – a triad that becomes increasingly important as digital governance becomes a dominant idea across democracies."— LSE Review of Books

Data, Spaces, Science & Technology Policy, Globalization, International Relations, Public Policy, Asia, Political Science
Open Access Information

Label: Knowledge Unlatched

License: CC BY-NC-ND