Research Refusal – call for participation

As part of an ongoing collaboration between transmediale festival Berlin, Aarhus University and shifting research institutions, we are seeking proposals by research groups to collaboratively research refusal. Organised by transmediale festival, Digital Aesthetics Research Center/Aarhus University (Christian Ulrik Andersen), and Centre for the Study of the Networked Image/London South Bank University (Geoff Cox)

Extended deadline for submissions: Nov 6th.

Research Refusal

Writing in 1965, Mario Tronti’s claim was that the greatest power of the working class is refusal: the refusal of work, the refusal of capitalist development, and the refusal to bargain within a capitalist framework. One can see how this “strategy of refusal” has been utilised in all sorts of instances by social movements, but how does this play out now in the context of wider struggles over autonomy today – not just in terms of labour power and class struggles; but also intersectional feminism and queer politics; race and decolonialism, geopolitics, populism, environmental concerns; and the current pandemic? In what ways does a refusal of production manifest itself in contemporary artistic, political, social, cultural, or other movements? And, how might a refusal of certain forms of production come together with a politics of care and “social closeness”? The festival announcement puts it this way: “From the small acts of refusal that reside in the mundane and everyday, to tender forms of resistance that allow us to repair collective infrastructure, transmediale 2021–22 will map out the political agency of refusal, examining its potential to form new socio-political realities grounded in care, hope, and desire.” 

In this workshop we ask how these concerns further relate to research practices and infrastructures: what might be refused, and in what ways; how might academic autonomy be preserved in the context of capitalist tech development, especially perhaps in the present context of online delivery and the need for alternatives to corporate platforms (e.g. Zoom, Teams, Skype, and the like); and how to refuse research itself, in its instrumental form?

We are interested in responses to the above outline, but also other approaches and proposals for “research refusal”. Unlike previous years where our open call sought the participation of individual PhD and early stage researchers, this time we ask for proposals from research groups (either inside or outside the academy) working in diverse fields and geographical locations. The idea is that each group (consisting of 3-5 members) takes responsibility for a particular line of enquiry relating to research refusal.

More info at