DEEPFAKE: A Rhetorical and Economic Alternative to Address the So-Called “Post-Truth Era”

10 May 2023
9:00 am - 7:00 pm

Event Type

Since Greek antiquity, the rhetorical tradition has proposed to conceive and apprehend the search for truth differently from the Western philosophical tradition that was born with Plato. Platonic politics wished to control the city by subjecting political expression to the philosophical concept, whereas rhetoric opposed the logocratic and universal claim of philosophy, in the name of the diversity of subjectivities and forms of life that composed the demos, and justified democratic deliberation as a form and process of agreement and democratic agency.

This symposium aims to develop a critique of the current debates against Post-Truth and fakeness, led today by Big Tech in an effort to ensure its hegemony on the process of subjectivation  and to control the political expression of the demos through the control of the digital economy, which today includes the economy of creation and economy of imagination. In addition to the critical force of the rhetoric that we wish to rehabilitate, in order to denounce the illusion of a digital democracy through the current platforms of digital capitalism, this colloquium would like to suggest a different approach to the problems related to the deepfake by proposing an articulation between a Critical Digital Rhetoric and a Digital Political Economy.

Rather than censoring the new combination of Fakeness and Artificial Intelligence, called the deepfake, as Big Tech is doing today, we wish to reintegrate the production of deepfake in a new digital political economy, which would exploit the rhetorical potential of deepfake in a new economy of digital democracy. The latter would face the challenge of revealing the democratic value of the deepfake through the possibility of a circulation and a reappropriation of symbolic images as well as a digital hermeneutic. It is thus a new rhetorical paradigm of digital democracy that we wish to promote as an alternative to the alienating alliance of surveillance capitalism, computational capitalism, computational sciences, and data sciences.

Read the Argument


Event Program: 

Opening – 9.15am: Igor Galligo, UC Berkeley, UPL, NEST, Founder of

First Session: Rhetoric, Democracy and “Post-Truth”

How are rhetoric and fakeness consubstantial with democracy? To what conception of truth does the notion of “post-truth” correspond? And why is Post-Truth a problematic notion for the rhetorical tradition?

– 9.20am – 9.45 am: James Porter (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)

– 9.50am – 10.15am: Linda Kinstler (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)

– 10.20am – 10.30am: Chiara Cappelletto (State University of Milan, CSTMS)

– 10.30am – 10.50am: Collective discussion with the audience

Second Session: Subjectivity, Digital Computationalism and Artificial Intelligence

How does the theorization of contemporary computing, which gave birth to the Internet and artificial intelligence, and which is based on computationalism, constitute a problematic conception of subjectivity? How is this conception opposed to the rhetorical and hermeneutic tradition? What conceptions of truth are discarded by computationalism?

– 11.00 – 11.25: David Bates (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)

– 11.30 – 11.55: Warren Neidich (Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art)

– 12.00 – 12.10: Morgan Ames (UC Berkeley, School of Information, CSTMS) 

– 12.10 – 12.30: Collective discussion with the audience

Third Session: Critical Digital Rhetoric

What renewals can be made within the rhetorical tradition to adapt it to the digital political and Artificial Intelligence contexts? What critical political powers can digital rhetoric retain in the face of computational digital media, fed by data sciences in the new social spaces that are the Internet and social networks?

– 14.00 – 14.25: Nina Begus (UC Berkeley, CSTMS)

– 14.30 – 14.55: Justin Hodgson (Indiana University, Department of English)

– 15.00 – 15.10: Nathan Atkinson (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)

– 15.10 – 15.30: Collective discussion with the audience

Fourth Session: Computational Capitalism and Surveillance Capitalism in light of the Deepfake.

What conceptions and productions of truth do computational capitalism and surveillance capitalism promote? And against what conceptions or practices of producing truth do they discriminate? To which social groups, does this discrimination pose problems of expression and individuation today?

– 15.40 – 16.05: Marion Fourcade (UC Berkeley, Social Sciences Matrix, N2PE)

– 16.10 – 16.35: Igor Galligo (UC Berkeley, UPL, NEST, Founder of

– 16.40 – 16.50: Konrad Posch (UC Berkeley, Political Science, N2PE)

– 16.50 – 17.10: Collective discussion with the audience

Fifth Session: For a New Digital Political Economy of Deepfake

How to extend the digital political economy to the symbolic and iconic economy? What new rhetorical and hermeneutic economy of truth can political economy invent? What circuits of collective truth production can political economy develop to grant the deepfake political meaning and value?

– 17.20 – 17.45: Martin Kenney (UC Davis, Department of Human Ecology, BRIE)

– 17.50 – 18.15: Mark Nitzberg (UC Berkeley, BRIE, BCHC, BAIR)

– 18.20 – 18.35: John Zysman (UC Berkeley, BRIE, CITRIS)

– 18.35– 18.55: Collective discussion with the audience


Event Details: 


Location: Social Science Matrix, 820 Social Sciences Building, UC Berkeley. The event will also be streamed online via Zoom.

Organizer: Igor Galligo, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley Department of Rhetoric; Founder,

Funding and Scientific Partners:

Scientific Partners at UC Berkeley:

Other Scientific Partner:

Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art


For more details, visit the Social Science Matrix.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative • CSTMS • Department of Rhetoric • NEST • Network for New Political Economy • Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art • The Social Science Matrix

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