Networks are at the heart of how we live today. Networks generate transnational zones of action, bring together communities, circulate knowledge and information, expand spheres of influence, contaminate ideas, germinate exchanges, foster innovation, and facilitate distribution of power. However, networks are unfairly distributed and closely monitored. Geopolitical injustices and dominant political and economic forces mean that networks can foster segregation, facilitate hyper-centralized forms of citizen surveillance and control, fragment living space and experience. These developments of the network society generate social tensions, which invest the task of understanding networks in their many manifestations –including cultural ones– with social and political urgency.
Networks, despite many past promises of disembodiment and internationalism through the obsolescence of both bodies and geographical boundaries – promises now widely perceived themselves as obsolete – are still experienced by subjects that remain both embodied and geographically situated (Cohen, 2012: 11) As Cohen argues, not only are networks firmly connected to material bodies and physical geographies, but they also play “an increasingly significant role in constructing embodied experience” (ibid), by both empowering and configuring the “networked self” (ibid: 12).