Big Data from the South: Decolonization, Resistance and Creativity

In collaboration with DATACTIVE and is made possible by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Amsterdam Centre for European Studies, Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies, and the European research Council

04dec2018 20:00 - 21:30


Datafication has dramatically altered the way we understand the world around us. An event on Big Data from a Southern perspective.

Understanding the so-called ‘big data’ means to explore the profound consequences of the computational turn, as well as the limitations, errors and biases that affect the gathering, interpretation and access to information on such a large scale. However, much of this critical scholarship has emerged along a Western axis ideally connecting Silicon Valley, Cambridge, MA and Northern Europe. What does it mean to think datafication from a Southern perspective? This roundtables interrogates the mythology and universalism of datafication and big data, moving beyond the Western centrism and ‘digital universalism’ (Say Chan, 2013) of the critical scholarship on datafication and digitalization. It asks how would datafication look like seen… ‘upside down’? What problems should we address? What questions would we ask? We will explore these questions in conversation with four engaged academics.

About the speakers

Payal Arora is an Associate Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Founder of Catalyst Lab, a digital activism organization. Her research focuses on digital cultures in the Global South. She is the author of several books including the upcoming, “The Next Billion Users: Digital Life beyond the West” with Harvard University Press.  She sits on multiple boards including the Facebook Advisory Committee, Columbia University’s Earth Institute Connect to Learn, and The World Women Global Council in New York. She has held Fellow positions at NYU, GE, ITSRio and ZeMKI and is the Section Editor for the University of California Press journal - Global Perspectives.

Nick Couldry is Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics. His work is on media power, voice and increasing questions of data power and data justice. He co-led the chapter on Media and Communications in the International Panel on Social Progress whose report is published this year.

Merlyna Lim is a Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Global Network Society and Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University. Lim’s research and publications revolve around the mutual shaping of technology and society, and political culture of technology, especially digital media and information technology, in relation to issues of power, justice/equality, democracy and citizen engagement. 

Ulises A. Mejias is associate professor of Communication Studies and director of the Institute for Global Engagement at the State University of New York, College at Oswego. He is a media scholar whose work encompasses critical internet studies, network theory and science, philosophy and sociology of technology, and political economy of digital media. Ulises is the author of Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), and with Nick Couldry, of The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating it for Capitalism (forthcoming in 2019 from Stanford University Press). 

Chair: Stefania Milan (DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam)
Moderator: Emiliano Treré (Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University) 


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