Final Call: “Data worldings and post/colonial connectedness”
Deadline for submission closes on 1 February, 2018.
(#87), at 4S Sydney, 29 August – 1 September 2018.
Antonia Walford (University College London & Centre for Social Data Science, University of Copenhagen) antonia.walford[at]ucl.ac.uk
*Data worldings and post/colonial connectedness*
Data infrastructures have taken centre stage in many of the strands which comprise the environmental, bio- and geosciences: from biodiversity assessments and conservation efforts to environmental monitoring and the development of “urban biomes”. Data infrastructures are producing unprecedented amounts of data and figures, advancing a primarily data-based understanding of worlds and compelling the coming together of different rationalities, imaginaries, economies and agencies in the pursuit of ever more integration across and connection between data.
Having worked in the context of the biological and ecological sciences, their infrastructures and institutions, we observe that these rationalities, imaginaries, economies and agencies are deeply enmeshed with historical yet enduring imperial relations. Indeed, we would suggest that current desires to apprehend a totalised world at all scales—including bio- and atmo-spheres, cosmos, inner spaces and outer surfaces of bodies—exclusively through data need to be understood as constituted in and through colonialrelations and their shifting material realities. STS-inflected scholarship on data and data infrastructures has provided useful insights into making, sharing and mobilisation of data as efforts to govern the furthermost reaches of the “natural empire” (Bowker 2000) and into their participation in racialising asymmetries. With this panel we wish to further problematize emergent data worldings drawing on postcolonial critiques of the “universal” and “global” to examine how data worldings are contingent on and enact specific colonial relations. We also want to explore how attending to data worldings can help us understand the ongoing unfolding and transformation of neo-colonial logics and practices.