2 juin 2021
Call for Papers International Conference “Criticism and circumvention of control and surveillance on the Internet”

The team of the ResisTIC project (“The Net Resisters: Criticizing and escaping digital coercion in Russia”, funded by the French National Agency for Research-ANR / resistic.fr), releases a call for papers for the international conference “Criticism and circumvention of control and surveillance on the Internet”. Selected contributions will address the resistance and adaptation strategies that Internet users deploy to counter new national and international web regulations, the social practices and techniques for circumventing digital constraints, and the reconfigurations of politics as they are challenged by contemporary information and communication technologies.

Deadline for abstract submission: September 23, 2021.

In recent years, digital freedoms and their evolutions have enjoyed substantial attention, both in authoritarian or “illiberal” contexts and in liberal democracies. In several countries, tensions are growing as on one hand, Internet users aspire to enjoy digital freedoms relating to freedom of expression and association, and on the other hand, States and other actors develop national Internet framing policies. These are officially justified by reasons of digital networking security, by commercial strategies of private companies, by arguments of modernization of state apparatuses and by claims of autonomy and independence of national Internet, most often labeled as “digital sovereignty”. Internet users face potentially paradoxical situations such as the development of the web (and the explosion of online content), on the one hand, and on the other, the strengthening of power balances that are increasingly unfavorable to public freedoms.


In this context, the conference focuses on Internet users’ resistance and adaptation strategies to new national and international, public and private, regulations. Indeed, geographical and digital territories worldwide take shape as “laboratories” of practices and techniques of digital resistance, which are circulated via online interpersonal exchanges, but also by means of training sessions, conferences, forums. These sharing practices and circulations are particularly active at the time of conflicts and uprisings (as many works exploring the Arab revolutions, or conflicts in Belarus, Lebanon, Hong Kong, or Egypt, have demonstrated). This conference has the ambition to contribute, examining different cases, countries and regions, to a reflection on the reconfigurations of politics as they are challenged by contemporary information and communication technologies.


This conference aims to showcase and discuss contributions focused on the following issues:

  1. Analyses, based on case studies, of the nature of online repression and constraint strategies. These involve a whole range of actors and practices, that originate in institutions but also in private and extrajudicial dynamics aimed at maintaining order and justice (e.g. vigilantism).
  2. The arts of resistance and circumvention developed by web professionals (hackers, service providers, engineers, experts, etc.) faced with the new legal and technical regulations on the Internet. Contributions in this area will allow us to examine technical innovations and peculiar uses of the Internet and its material infrastructures that make it possible to bypass or fight against institutional constraints.
  3. Practices and techniques deployed to counter repression, in particular the appropriation of circumvention tools, their use and their promotion by Internet users (journalists, publishers, digital entrepreneurs, activists, citizens, etc.). We will be particularly interested in the sites where knowledge about these techniques and tools is shared and transmitted: online groups, training courses, primers and handbooks, hackathon-type events or conferences. The aim here is to analyze how these actors appropriate circumvention devices and techniques on the Internet, as compromises that make it possible to resist constraints while remaining present and active in the public space.
  4. The uses of law in digital arenas, both in terms of how law is spoken about and represented, and the legal struggles in the field of digital freedoms. Contributions will, on the one hand, be able to address the problem of conceiving new legal rules aimed at strengthening the so-called “digital sovereignty” of the State, and, on the other hand, they could describe the hardships that people have to face within particular legal systems when they face legal action for their online activities, or in turn, initiate lawsuits against the state. Contributions may also address the cases of misuse or creative use of digital laws (e.g., creative exploitation of legal “vacuums” and other examples of dynamic relationships between code and law).
  5. Strategies for “escaping through exile” new forms of online coercion. Contributions will focus on the strategies of Internet and web professionals (hackers, technical staff of NGOs and opposition parties) and of other actors in the public space (journalists, publishers, activists, etc.) who choose to leave their country to develop digital practices from abroad. Contributions may also focus on the migration of Internet infrastructures (e.g., relocation of servers).


This conference is grounded in a multidisciplinary perspective (sociology, science studies, political science, geography, anthropology, law) and encourages the presentation of empirical approaches and innovative and hybrid methodologies.

Key dates

  • Until September 23, 2021: Proposal submissions in French or English, to be deposited on the website : https://resistic.sciencesconf.org/user/submissions, including a title, a summary of approximately 500 words, 5 to 10 keywords, key bibliographic references, surname and first name of the author(s), their affiliation, email, and address of the home institution (info : resistic@sciencesconf.org)
  • September 30, 2021: Date of notification of acceptance or refusal of communications
  • Until February 15, 2022: Submission of complete articles (5000 to 8000 words)
  • March 31 and April 1, 2022: International conference in Paris

Organizing committee : The ResisTIC project team

Olga Bronnikova (University Grenoble Alpes, ICLEA4/CESC)

Françoise Daucé (School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, EHESS)

Ksenia Ermoshina (Centre for Internet and Society, CNRS)

Valery Kossov (University Grenoble Alpes, ICLEA4/CESC)

Benjamin Loveluck (i3-SES, Telecom Paris, IP Paris)

Francesca Musiani (Centre for Internet and Society, CNRS)

Bella Ostromooukhova (Eur’Orbem, Sorbonne Université)

Perrine Poupin (Eur’Orbem, Sorbonne Université)

Anna Zaytseva (University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, LLA Creatis)


Scientific committee

Mahsa Alimardani (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom)

Séverine Arsène (SciencesPo Medialab and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China)

Gabriele Balbi (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland)

Luca Belli (FGV Law School, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Stanislav Budnitsky (Indiana University-Bloomington, United States)

Polina Kolozaridi (Higher School of Economics Moscow, Russian Federation)

Marcus Michaelsen (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)

Stefania Milan (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Félix Tréguer (CERI, SciencesPo, France)


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Friedewald, M., Burgess, J. P., Čas, J., Bellanova, R., & Peissl, W. (dir.) (2017), Surveillance, Privacy and Security. Citizens Perspectives, London and New York: Routledge

Isin, E. F., & Ruppert, E. (2015), Being Digital Citizens, London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield

Kohl, U. (dir.) (2017), The Net and the Nation State. Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Internet Governance, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press

Liang, F., Das, V., Kostyuk, N., & Hussain, M. M. (2018), “Constructing a data‐driven society: China’s social credit system as a state surveillance infrastructure”, Policy & Internet 10(4), p. 415-453

Milan, S., 2013, Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change, Londres, Palgrave Macmillan

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Tufekci, Z. (2017), Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, New Haven, Yale University Press