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Data Worldings and Post/colonial Connectedness I

Sat, September 1, 9:00 to 10:30am, ICC, E5.5

Session Submission Type: Open Panel


Data infrastructures are producing unprecedented amounts of data and figures, advancing a primarily data-based understanding of worlds and compelling the coming together of different rationalities, imaginaries, economies and agencies in the pursuit of ever more integration across and connection between data. We suggest that current desires to apprehend a totalised world at all scales—including bio- and atmospheres, cosmos, inner spaces and outer surfaces of bodies—exclusively through data need to be understood as constituted in and through colonial relations and their shifting material realities. STS-inflected scholarship on data and data infrastructures has provided useful insights into making, sharing and mobilisation of data as efforts to govern the furthermost reaches of the “natural empire” (Bowker 2000) and into their participation in racialising asymmetries. With this panel we wish to further problematize emergent data worldings drawing on postcolonial critiques of the “universal” and “global” to examine how data worldings are contingent on and enact specific colonial relations. We also want to explore how attending to data worldings can help us understand the ongoing unfolding and transformation of neo-colonial logics and practices. How are data infrastructures entangled with and re-shaping colonial territorialities and histories? In what ways do data practices rely on the re-iteration or distortion of heterogeneous registers of colonial power, like expansion, standardisation, assimilation, aggregation and discrimination? Helping to contextualise these issues within postcolonial theories is our discussant, Dr. Fiona Lee, an expert in postcolonial studies from the Department of English at the University of Sydney.

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