Data as an instrument of coloniality

A panel discussion on digital and data colonialism

Learn more Register now Add to Calendar 04/27/2021 03:30 PM 04/27/2021 05:00 PM Europe/London Data as an instrument of coloniality Location of the event
Tuesday 27 Apr 2021
Time: 15:30 - 17:00

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About the event

Maps and surveys of "new worlds", passport photos and vaccination cards to control the movement of "impure" bodies, accounting spreadsheets used in plantations of enslaved peoples... all of these technologies suggest that data has always been an instrument of colonialism.

But can the history of European and American colonialism also help us interpret contemporary phenomena like algorithmic racial violence, quarantine apps and vaccination apartheid, the injustices of the gig economy, and disinformation campaigns that threaten our democratic futures? By examining these trends not just in the context of the past few decades, but through the lens of the past 500 years, we can perhaps gain new insights into why theories of capitalist production may not be enough to make sense of the extractivist technologies of today. These technologies need to be understood as manifestations of something deeper, constitutive of colonialism. Only by looking at the histories of colonial extraction and appropriation of land, nature and labor can we understand that our lives are being reconfigured in unprecedented ways, through the medium of data.

Confronted with the new infrastructures of data colonialism, which perpetuate old racial, gender and class injustices, we must learn from past and present anti-colonial and anti-racist movements and thinkers. Decolonising our data in this context means developing new strategies for resisting the new extractivist order, and for re-imagining internet governance and the digital commons.

Join us for this important discussion with four authors who, in different ways, have analysed our datafied world through the framework of coloniality.


15:30: Welcome and introductions (5 minutes)

15:30 – 16:15: Hosted roundtable discussion (40 minutes)

16:15 – 16:35: Q&A webinar format (20 minutes)

16:35 – 17:00: Informal discussion via a separate link, with limited attendance (25 minutes)

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