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“Because Technology” and Other Legal Imaginaries of COVID-19


Sandra Braman, Abbott Professor of Liberal Arts, Department of Communication, Texas A&M University

Via Zoom | RSVP Here | or email

The Covid-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to examine how a medical emergency — so different in kind from the national security emergencies we are accustomed to thinking about in this policy issue area — affected information policy as broadly defined. The talk will provide an overview of information policy as legal epidemiology, examines the legal imaginaries of the pandemic as they appeared in the first five months, and positions those imaginaries relative to the longer trajectories of the evolution of information policy. It will conclude by looking at the the relationship between the imaginaries and policy as it stands today, “the contrail effect.”

Sandra Braman’s research has been supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Soros Foundation, and the First Amendment Fund.  Braman created and launched the first graduate (postgraduate) program in telecommunications and information policy on the African continent while serving as Director and Visiting Professor at the University of South Africa.  She has also served in the invited positions of Freedom of Expression Professor at the University of Bergen (Norway), Fulbright Senior Scholar at Södertörn University (Sweden), and Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).  She conceived and edits the Information Policy Book Series at MIT Press, and is former Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communication Association and former Chair of the Law Section of the International Association of Media and Communication Research.  In 2014 Braman was inducted as a Fellow of the International Communication Association. She is a Fellow of the Center for Quantum Networks (University of Arizona), a Faculty Associate of the Ostrom Workshop (Indiana University), and a fellow of the non-profit Washington, DC-based organization, the Center for Democracy and Technology.