Visiting Scholar Theresa Zueger's BCNM Experience

03 Apr, 2014

Visiting Scholar Theresa Zueger's BCNM Experience

For the month of February Theresa Zueger from the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media. During her stay she worked on her PhD thesis on digital civil disobedience. Zueger explores new forms of civil disobedience that emerge on the Internet using both political philosophy and qualitative methods to inform her research. By analyzing Hannah Arendt’s writing in particular, she aims to rethink our understanding of civil disobedience in the digital age.

The Berkeley Center for New Media provided a platform for Zueger to learn more about the roots of disobedient practices on the Internet. Since many philosophers see America as the origin of the phenomena of civil disobedience, Zueger’s stay allowed her insight into American perspectives on the subject. UC Berkeley’s inspiring atmosphere and the large network of experts that BCNM is built on ensured that Zueger was able to reach out to scholars from a variety of disciplines for interviews.

Her first day at BCNM began with a presentation on her research so that BCNM faculty and students could assist in Zueger’s project and suggest other connections at Berkeley and in the Bay area. While Zueger was in Berkeley, she was also able to organize a round table for the RightsCon in San Francisco, focusing on the challenges of protesting both on and offline. Zueger was particularly indebted at Berkeley to the welcome she received from Prof. Hans Sluga, who gave a seminar about Foucault and the surveillance state, and Prof. Purushottama Bilimoria, who is an expert on Gandhi and the civil rights movement in America. Her conversations with Chris Hoofnagle from the Center for Law and Technology, and her interviews with several experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation were also invaluable to the exceptional progress she made on her research.

Summarizing her stay, Zueger said, “In the end, I can’t explain how all the great and important things I learned for my research and experienced for myself could happen in only one month.”