Podcast – Work, Resist, Refuse

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Podcast - Work, Resist, Refuse

Participants: Aaron Benanav, Gargi Bhattacharyya, Rachel O'Dwyer, Suji Yan, & Silvio Lorusso

Exploring contemporary labour conditions, Aaron Benanav, Gargi Bhattacharyya, Rachel O'Dwyer, and Suji Yan, along with Silvio Lorusso as moderator, analyse the potential for the refusal of work. Examining tools of resistance and changing protocols for the abandonment of precarious work, they discuss the gaps between the lived realities of unjust working conditions and utopian visions for post-capitalist societies. Highlighting how micro-actions of dissent and low-effort content serve as entry points for public debates and collective practices of self-organisation, the conversation unpacks the narrow possibilities for resistance.

Aaron Benanav is an economic historian and social theorist. Currently, he holds a postdoctoral researcher position at Humboldt University of Berlin and is academic coordinator for the research unit “Re-Allocation” in the Cluster of Excellence “SCRIPTS: Contestations of the Liberal Script,” a seven-year project funded by the German Research Foundation. Benanav also serves as an editorial board member for the journal International Labor and Working Class History. His first book, Automation and the Future of Work, was published by Verso in 2020.

Gargi Bhattacharyya is professor of Sociology at the University of East London. She has written extensively on race and racisms, sexuality, global cultures, and the “War on Terror.” Bhattacharyya is the author of numerous books and articles, including Dangerous Brown Men (Zed, 2005), Crisis, Austerity, and Everyday Life (Palgrave, 2015), and Rethinking Racial Capitalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018).

Rachel O'Dwyer is a lecturer in digital cultures at the School of Visual Culture at NCAD, Dublin. Her research is at the intersection of digital cultures and cultural economies with a focus on money, algorithms, and art. She is an editor for Neural magazine of critical digital culture and media art and was the founding editor-in-chief of Interference journal of audio culture (2009–17). O'Dwyer has published extensively on digital art, culture, and value both in academic and public scholarship contexts. She is currently completing a book for MIT Press on the ownership of the radio spectrum.

Suji Yan is an entrepreneur, engineer, and journalist based in China. Yan is the CEO and founder of the internet start-up Sujitech, the development team Dimension, and Mask Network, a tool for content encryption. She is an advocate for FOSS (free and open-source software) and the Anti-996 License, which allows developers to prohibit the use of code by companies with unethical labour practices.

Silvio Lorusso (moderator) is a writer, artist, and designer based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 2019 he published his first book, Entreprecariat, with Onomatopee. He is an assistant professor and vice director of the Center for Other Worlds at Lusófona University, Lisbon, a creative coding tutor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, and a lecturer at the Design Department of the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam.

About transmediale

For over thirty years transmediale has been one of the key leading international events for discourse and critical reflection on post-digital theory and practice. As Germany’s premier media art festival, the festival has become an influential event in the calendar of theorists, artists, activists and makers and attracts a diverse audience interested in art and culture. The festival is renowned for generating diverse, urgent and necessary debate around how digital technologies affect the lived human experience of the contemporary now. It has an extensive international network of partners including CTM, Winchester School of Art, Aarhus University and the Vilém Flusser Archive at the Universität der Künste Berlin. The festival is committed to continuous reflection on socio-political discourse and experimentation with structure and formats that challenge the conventions of how culture is experienced and understood. This has resulted in the creation of strong programming in various formats and models that build an understanding of the many intersecting fields that coalesce in the field of media arts. This has built transmediale into a dynamic festival that engages with experimentation and takes interdisciplinary artistic risks. At the core of the festival is a philosophy that continuously rethinks what culture is, where it takes place and what modes of engagement we offer for audiences.


These pre-recorded artistic and discursive contributions explore individual and collective forms of refusal that relate to institutional practices of labour, knowledge and values. The contributions explore how tactics of refusal open up possibilities for rethinking the values embedded within public and private institutions.