The pirate function: developmental lag and illegitimate generation

The second lecture of the Sheffield Urbanism series on Co-production and the Future of Urban Epistemics is by Professor Kavita Philip from the University of British Columbia.

The pirate function

A profusion of stealing, sharing, riffing, and ripping off have transformed technological authorship in the late 20th century. Yet critical theorists have not been prepared for the theoretical implications of these shifts. Parallel to Foucault’s capacious sense of the author-function in literary creativity, I suggest that we might deploy a “pirate function” to understand the proliferation of forms of technological authorship in the late 20th century. In reading pirate narratives from the former margins of empire, in what are now the “emerging” power-centers of the global market (variously analysed under the rubric of the knowledge economy, the digital economy, or new transnational economies), my work seeks to do more than simply add under-studied regions to the roster of pirate-studies. The economic, political, philosophical and academic margins of pirate studies are constitutive of the global economy in more than an additive sense. To some extent, all our metaphors of globalism need revision: Global South and North, Center and Periphery, First and Third Worlds, Western and Non-Western are all useful to mark certain historical divisions, but inadequate to the analytical task of the present. In the task of re-writing pirate histories and futures, then, we must also rethink the language of global analysis itself.

Professor Kavita Philip has a unique interdisciplinary background that draws on geography, media studies and the history and philosophy of science and technology. In this lecture Kavita will offer an input beyond urban studies, reflecting on technology, theft and sharing in the context of neoliberal labour and capitalist accumulation. This lecture brings attention to the global politics of expertise and knowledge production, highlighted in her next book Studies in Unauthorized Reproduction: The Pirate Function and Decolonization (MIT Press).

The lecture will be chaired by Professor Beth Perry.

Sign up to attend online here


The Sheffield Urbanism Lecture Series

‘The pirate function’ is the second in the 2022 Sheffield Urbanism Lecture series, an initiative of the Urban Institute to stimulate dialogue, discussion and understanding of processes of urbanization and urban life. It is intended as a space to reimagine both the conceptualizations and narratives of urban studies. The 2022 lecture series, ‘Co-production and the Future of Urban Epistemics’, will build from the UI’s theme on ‘Co-producing Urbanisms’, with lectures from Professor Beth Perry (University of Sheffield), Professor Kavita Philip (University of British Colombia) and responses from Professor Michele Lancione (Polytechnic University of Turin), Dr Linda Westman (University of Sheffield) and Aïcha Diallo (University of Sheffield).

Co-production and the Future of Urban Epistemics comprises two lectures and one agenda-setting workshop. You can sign up for the other events in the series here

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