Interdisciplinary Winter School – What happens to the data in ‘Big Data’? New Practices of Quantification between Politics, Science and Technology

This message is a call for paper for the “Interdisciplinary Winter School” (February 2016, 8-12th) on “Big Data”.

The core idea of this residential seminar is to reflect upon new practices of quantification and their political effects. Our intended perspective could be labeled “practical” and “technological”, since our intention is to trace the political effects of quantification practices via their, historical, material and methodological specificities (algorithms, tables, surveys, etc.). Furthermore, in contrast to much contemporary commentary and literature, we do not presuppose any rupture between standard statistical practices and “Big Data” (data-mining, machine-learning, etc.). In fact, the presence or the absence of this rupture is precisely one target of our interrogation.

Please find a proposal attached that gets to the flesh and bones of what we want to do and question throughout this week.


Applications should be sent to “” before the 1st of December (included) and must contain: 1° an abstract summarizing your proposal (max. 2 pages) ; 2° a motivation letter for participating to the residential seminar ; 3° a curriculum vitae.

The schedule of the event is as follow:

  • −  Proposals should be sent for the 21st December 2015
  • −  Confirmation will be given for the 28th December 2015
  • −  Papers shall be sent to each participant by the January 25th 2016
  • −  Winter School starts on the 8th of February and ends on the 12th of February
  • OrganizationEach participant will have a 45 minutes slot dedicated to their work (presentation and discussion), within one of the organized morning panels. We require full papers to be sent at least two weeks in advance to all the participants. Keynote Speakers give a public lecture and lead one morning panel, commenting on presentations and organising the discussion.

    The four keynotes speakers have kindly accepted to participate in the event are:

  • −  Emmanuel Didier, Permanent Researcher CNRS (University of California Los Angeles).
  • −  Xavier Guchet, Professor of Philosophy at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
  • −  Christoph Hoffman, Professor of Science Studies at Luzern University.
  • −  Donald Mackenzie, Professor of Sociology at Edinburgh UniversityThis winter school is put together jointly by four research projects and two STS groups: “Algorithmic Governmentality” (uNamur – ULB – Saint-Louis), Desktop Studies” (Zürich-Luzern), “Politics of genomic information – GIGS” (ULg), “Postgenomic Solidarity” (KUL), the STS Network Belgium, the “Counting Differently” STS working group at the University of Oxford.We will come back with more details in due time, but the fees of the residential seminar are set to 200 euros, and will essentially cover accommodation and breakfast for the full week. Other food expenses will be organized collectively on site.


Committee Organizer: Thomas Berns (ULB) ; Florence Caeymax (ULG) ; Jérémy Grosman (uNamur); Anne-Marie Weisst (ETH) ; François Thoreau (Ulg) ; Thomas Turnbull (Oxford)

Scientific Committee: Thomas Berns (ULB) ; Catherine Fallon (Ulg) ; Ine Van Homweyghen (KUL) ; Antoinette Rouvroy (FNRS – uNamur)

Should you have any questions or concerns, contact