Decolonizing Data Regimes

Thanks to Kimberly Takahata and Alex Gil for inviting me!

Friday, April 19th
4pm in Studio Butler (208b)
Columbia University Libraries

Decolonizing Data Regimes
In this age of datafication, the quantification of human bodies, behaviors, and interactions has raised myriad concerns about ethics and privacy. My talk takes a media archaeological approach to sift through those prehistories which have shaped our contemporary digital landscape. Specifically, I historicize trends toward datafication in the context of colonial communication networks in the Global South. The data regimes we see today are premised upon a colonial geography and a colonial rhetoric of technomodernity, and to decolonize digital platforms we must take a long historical view on data ethics grounded in the Global South. My talk articulates some of these possibilities for postcolonial data interventions for digital infrastructures.

columbia talk

Keynote Talk at Network Detroit 2018

Thanks to the planning committee of the Network Detroit 2018 conference for inviting me to keynote at this conference

My talk description and slides are below.

In 2016, the United Nations reaffirmed that Internet access had become crucial to human rights in the digital age, and advised governments to both provide and expand access to the Internet to all citizens. In a moment when social media activism (ranging from the Arab Spring to #BlackLivesMatter) has reinvigorated community mobilization and political action, it seems even more crucial to remedy the global digital divide. This talk historicizes contemporary attempts to develop digital infrastructures, and traces how initiatives to improve Internet access in the Global South are often mired in racial ideologies and colonial histories. Far from being apolitical systems with inherent benefits of equality and progress, digital infrastructures (and social media platforms enmeshed in them) can perpetuate violence against marginalized people and work against their political, economic, and social interests. Yet, I also strike a note of cautious optimism: while digital infrastructures can not resolve social inequalities, they have been powerfully leveraged by marginalized people in movements for social and racial justice. In taking a postcolonial approach to digital humanities, I ask how digital humanities scholars can become community partners and advocates in not only shaping infrastructural development but also participating in existing movements for social and racial justice in our communities.

Slides_Digital Infrastructures and Communities in Resistance