Contentious Narratives: Digital Technology and the Attack on Liberal Democratic Norms


Monday, April 2, 2018 (All day) to Tuesday, April 3, 2018 (All day)


The George Washington University, Washington, District Of Columbia 20052


The conference focuses on the effects of disinformation on peacebuilding and on efforts to document human rights abuse and war crimes. Trolls, bots — bits of computer code designed to augment social media activities — have emerged as disruptive elements in foreign and domestic politics. 

Soon, generative adversarial network technology — the ability to invert words and images onto video feeds, even live ones — will deepen the epistemological murk surrounding fact-based analysis and discourse. 

The conference begins with a review of the strengths and challenges associated with the role of digital technology in human rights documentation and peacebuilding. From there, we consider specific cases involving the tension and struggle between, on the one hand, the use of digital technology to verify and document events, and, on the other, the uses of technology to obfuscate and delude. We will then turn to a consideration of potential remedies.

The Journal of International Affairs at Columbia University will publish a special issue in association with the conference. Papers will be drawn from conferees and from select external proposals.


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