Evelyn Ruppert - Data Politics: Worlds, Subjects, Rights - Surveillance Studies Centre Seminar Series
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
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Data has been constituted as an object vested with certain powers, influence, and rationalities. I will place the emergence and transformation of professional practices such as ‘data science’, ‘data journalism’, ‘data brokerage’, ‘datamining’, ‘data storage’, and ‘data analysis’ as part of the reconfiguration of a series of fields of power/knowledge in the public and private accumulation of data. How has data has become such an object of power and how might we critically intervene in its deployments in both theory and practice? I will discuss the conditions of possibility of data that involve things (infrastructures of servers, devices, and cables), language (code, programming, and algorithms) and people (subjects, engineers, information technologists, designers) that together make up particular transnational spaces of relations and how data is part and at the same time productive of various worlds, subjects, and rights in ways that were hardly anticipated until recently. I will argue that the articulation of political questions about these worlds needs to attend to the ways in which subjects are formed and provoked to govern themselves and others by making rights claims. Without understanding these conditions of possibility it would be difficult to intervene in or shape data politics if by that it’s meant the transformation of data subjects into rights claiming data citizens.
Evelyn Ruppert is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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