Data Politics: Worlds, Subjects, Rights
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
12:30 – 2 pm
Mackintosh Corry Hall Room D214
(Grad Students are also invited to join Evelyn Ruppert for an informal discussion in Mac-Corry Room C512 from 10.30 to 11.30 before her seminar.)
Data has been constituted as an object vested with certain powers, influence, and rationalities. Ruppert places 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? In response to this question, Ruppert discusses 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. Ruppert argues 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.
About the Speaker:
Evelyn Ruppert is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studies the sociology of data specifically in relation to how different kinds of data are constituted and mobilised to enact and govern populations. Evelyn is PI of a five-year European Research Council funded project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS; 2014-19). She is also Founding and Editor-in- chief of a SAGE open access journal, Big Data & Society: Critical Interdisciplinary Inquiries, launched in June 2014. Recent books are Being Digital Citizens (authored with Engin Isin) published in April 2015 (RLI International) and Modes of Knowing (edited with John Law) published in August 2016 (Mattering Press).