Past the Silicon Valley: Towards a European Digital Public Sphere

9th Käte Hamburger Dialogue

with Emmanuel Alloa (St. Gallen) and Jean-Baptiste Soufron (Paris)
Discussants: Dirk Messner (Duisburg/Bonn), Constanze Kurz (Berlin)
Moderator: Christoph Bieber (Duisburg-Essen)

Friday, 20 October 2017, 19:30-21:15
Halle 2, Zeche Zollverein site, Essen

The recurrent complaint about the lack of a European ‘demos’ misses an important point. Democracy never existed in an unmediated space, the demos is always shaped by the spaces and instruments through which assemblies can be summoned. In Europe’s intellectual history, physical places as well as communication spaces like journals and magazines have played a pivotal role in shaping a particular form of critical modernity. But what about the new virtual infrastructures? What kind of ‘digital public sphere’ is emerging here, and what role could or should ‘Europe’ play in this regard? Do we need a governance of the European virtual space and who should be entrusted with it? Should we work towards lifting the national regulations and harmonize European policies in order to create a unified European digital space, on the model of a ‘unified market’? Or should a European digital public sphere be conceived of as a digital commons, emerging through a bottom-up process of civil society?

Silicon Valley has a clear vision of what the digital future should look like. Does Europe have the force to imagine convincing alternatives?

Download the announcement (PDF)

Video documentation: Sebastian Bodirsky, Camera: Arne Hector