“Decolonising and decarbonising our digital futures” Research talk by Dr Adi Kunstman

University Of Brighton, Brighton, BN2 0JG
Thu 15th June 2023 3:30PM

Dr Adi Kunstman (Manchester Metropolitan University) is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics (University of Brighton).

The talk will address two separate issues, and the relations between them – or a lack thereof. The first issue is the role of digital technologies in decarbonisation, environmental agendas, and efforts to create a sustainable future. The second issue is decolonisation – of digital communication, and of conversations on climate and environmental justice. I will start with a number of questions: What is the role of digital technologies in environmental sustainability and the climate crisis? To what extent is digitisation a key component of environmental sustainability, or a major hindrance? And what are the relations between colonial legacies, global injustice, digitisation, and the environment?

Within conversations about climate justice, the digital is rarely looked at as a source of environmental harms, despite a wealth of evidence (mining of rare metals for devices; e-waste; toxic and exploitative working conditions especially in the Global South; accelerated energy demands of internet connectivity, deep machine learning, AI and cryptocurrency; heat and carbon emissions of Data Farms, and more). This issue of digital environmental harms, and their unequal global distribution, requires an interrogation, especially in the current post-pandemic moment in time, after the global society has experienced an unprecedented (and often, not fully evaluated) digital surge. At present, the conversation on the topic is siloed, taking place separately in engineering and environmental science; media and communication; and social sciences and arts. Given that different disciplines may use different terms, such as “footprint”, “harm”, “impact”, and difference conceptual frameworks, what is lacking is an approach that accounts for these different fragments, without necessarily privileging one over the other. My talk will conclude with a proposal for a sort of “mosaic methodology” that can be attentive to different aspects, components, actors, meanings, and impacts of digitisation, and draw simultaneously on decolonisation and decarbonisation.

Image credit: Vladi Kuntsman

Event Details

From 3:30PM to 5:00PM


University Of Brighton, Brighton, BN2 0JG