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Friday, November 1, 2019

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Sat, Sep 25, 2021

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  Decentering Data Futures and Relational Infrastructures in Latin American Networked Ecologies  

In this Friday's STS seminar, Dr. Anita Say Chan who is Associate Professor of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Media and Associate Professor at UIUC's School of Information Sciences will be presenting her research. The title of her presentation is 'Decentering Data Futures and Relational Infrastructures in Latin American Networked Ecologies'. See below for Dr. Chan's presentation abstract and biography. As usual, the event begins at 1:30 PM in Newman Library's Athenaeum, but please join us for light refreshments and conversations at 1pm onwards.

Zoom live streaming link:
Meeting ID: 694 188 4189

The varied crises currently facing Western data institutions -- private and public alike - have given new urgency to deepening analyses of other forms of data practice beyond the given centers of "data" expertise. Indeed, 2018 might be said to be a year of Big Data's public reckoning. Only months after the social media giant Facebook released its "Facebook Humanitarian Manifesto" to affirm the company's commitment to working on behalf of a shared "global community" and bringing about "the greatest positive impact on the world," its relations with the UK-based data brokerage company, Cambridge Analytica came to public light in a case that's since put the world's biggest social network at the center of an international scandal involving the manipulation of user data and voter profiles for global misinformation campaigns. Well prior to such recent crises, however, a growing body of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral research networks - bridging varied disciplines and research communities - has worked to address the imbalances of analyses around who counts as knowledge producer and data expert, and what alternative forms of digital expertise beyond the given geographic centers and dominant conceptions of technologically-literate publics remain under-considered. Together, they shed light on the limited forms of citizen or user that are "spoken for" when framed by dominant Western lenses around digital politics and models of data practice. And they've asked how it is that such particular centers of knowledge production are still enabled to speak for (and in place of) the "global rest"-- especially when issues of technology, the digital, and now indeed, data are involved. This paper thus interrogates feminist decolonial data practices among multiple social advocacy networks in Latin America, and decenters dominant data studies frameworks by highlighting critical perspectives from the Global South. It considers the experiences of feminist, rural and ethnic minority organizers and research networks and their strategies for cultivating care and collaboration around data research. It likewise explores framings of risk and vulnerability by feminist data justice collectives that develop community-based research and organizing practices against the forms of surveillance, stalking and digital insecurity that women, LGBTQ, ethnic and racial minorities, and other vulnerable parties routinely face. Taking seriously the research capacities of social justice networks, I argue here for the need to develop methods and analyses around data cultures that resist universal frameworks, and that attend to the relational infrastructures, human contexts and local sites in which data practices are deployed, and may even be differently imagined.

Anita Say Chan is an Associate Research Professor of Communications in the Department of Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include globalization and digital cultures, innovation networks and the "periphery", science and technology studies in Latin America, and hybrid pedagogies in building digital literacies. She received her PhD in 2008 from the MIT Doctoral Program in History; Anthropology; and Science, Technology, and Society. Her first book the competing imaginaries of global connection and information technologies in network-age Peru, Networking Peripheries: Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism was released by MIT Press in 2014. Her research has been awarded support from the Center for the Study of Law & Culture at Columbia University's School of Law and the National Science Foundation, and she has held postdoctoral fellowships at The CUNY Graduate Center's Committee on Globalization & Social Change, and at Stanford University's Introduction to Humanities Program. She is faculty affiliate at the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS), the Illinois Informatics Institute, the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP). She was a 2015-16 Faculty Fellow with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. She will be 2017-18 Faculty Fellow with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and a 2017-19 Faculty Fellow with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory.

Location: The Athenaeum (Newman Library 1st floor)
Contact: Kian Lua
E-Mail: klua@vt.edu
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