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Call For Papers for Our Next Conference

"'Fear Narratives' and their Role/Use in the United States"

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9) "Technologically Vulnerable: Managing Fear in the Fourth Industrial Revolution" "
Panel Chair: Miriam Fernández Santiago, Universidad de Granada
E-mail: mirfer@ugr.es  


As first defined in 2016 by the president of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which began in the 21st century, is characterized by the fusion of physical, digital and biological elements of emerging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, mobile technologies and human genome sequencing, among others. In the spirit of transhumanism, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is ideologically justified by the promise of a technologically enhanced humanity that would overcome limitations that make human beings vulnerable. By their integration in a technologically-enhanced environment, human beings would not have to fear illness or death anymore. Technology would make food, education, energy and communications accessible to everybody, eradicating the fear of loneliness, illiteracy and poverty. Finally, technology would allow expanding human knowledge beyond its biological limitations, dispelling forever the fear of the unknown.

Yet ironically, the technological enhancements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution not only fail to dispel old fears, but also add new ones to the old ones by enhancing and multiplying human vulnerabilities. Instead of easing human workload and leveling class differences, labor automation often increases labor precarity and unemployment. Information and knowledge freely accessible to the masses through digital technologies make human beings vulnerable to ethical and informational uncertainty by overexposure to information saturation and post-truth, making learning irrelevant when technology provides instantaneous access to data. Finally, health-enhancing technologies do not only expose the vulnerability of those who are denied access to them for economic reasons, but also increases the dependency and addiction of humans whose health depends on the factual powers that control their distribution. Technology itself is extremely vulnerable to manipulation and operability, and transfers its vulnerabilities to the physical and biological elements it fuses with.

The present panel welcomes papers exploring the anxieties and fears that technologically-related vulnerabilities cause in US citizenship as they are reflected in nowadays literary and filmic productions. .



Abstracts of Proposals are to be e-mailed directly to the chair of the selected panel using this form. The deadline for submitting abstracts is October 15, 2020. Panel chairs are expected to accept/reject proposals and have panels set up by November 15.


Non-members of SAAS (of all nationalities) are welcome to participate in the conference, but will be required to pay membership dues for one year as well as the conference registration fee. Members of ASA (American Studies Association), AISNA (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nor-Americani), APEAA (Portuguese Association for Anglo-American Studies) and HELAAS (Hellenic Association for American Studies) need only pay the conference registration fee.

Further guideliness for participants can be found here.

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