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Seminar: The political economy of health data: infrastructures, flows and power

August 24

Dear collegaues,

August 24, 2020, we will be hosting a seminar with a great list of prominent experts on the political economy of health data. Please save the date if you are interested in these issues! See official announcement here: Political economy_early-announcement

Seminar organized by Klaus Hoeyer (University of Copenhagen) and Alan Petersen (Monash University)

Speakers include:


Tamar Sharon (Raboud U)

Mark Andrejevic (Monash U)

Linda Hogle (Madison-Wisconsin)

Samuel Lengen (U of Virginia)

Ulrike Felt (U of Vienna)

Sarah Wadmann (VIVE), Mette Hartlev (U of Copenhagen), and Klaus Hoeyer (U of Copenhagen)

Alan Petersen (Monash U)

Moria Patterson (Monash U)

Jane Kaye (Oxford U)

Barbara Prainsack (U of Vienna)

Sally Wyatt (Maastricht U)

Nina Hallowell (Oxford U)

Brit Winthereik (IT University of Copenhagen)


With pervasive digitalization of everyday activities, our social, professional and political life now unfold under new conditions. All forms of digitally mediated activity potentially generate data and that data can be exchanged on the platforms facilitating the activity. It has led some scholars to talk about the emergence of a platform society. The platform society potentially transgresses national boundaries and create new global data flows – but not all data flow freely, and different national and supranational regimes are emerging and they demarcate data use differently. If the Internet was once said to make all information equally accessible for all, we today know that new forms of data divides are developing. As data gain commercial value, they become guarded by trade secrets and both commercial, political and national security interests generate new divisions between those with access and those without.

The new data divides influence how data is produced and used. This seminar investigates the political economy of health data in light of the new division of data access. Old distinctions between health data and other data seem to be emerging and others eroding. If health data used to be seen as particularly sensitive and guarded by special rules in various jurisdictions, it is today the platform as much as the nature of the information that determines the level of sensitivity – and in some jurisdictions whether they even count as health data. There is a need to understand better the emerging global political economy of health data and to explore how global variations create very different power effects and involve very different potentials for data subjects and data users.

The seminar compares data infrastructures in different geospheres by pursuing the following cross-cutting themes of comparison:

  • Which actors build, control and use the data infrastructures for healthcare and health-related research?
  • What counts as health data? Are they guarded or defined in any particular way?
  • When infrastructural platforms are used for health data exchange, how are they then connected and which geographical ties do they involve?
  • How do technical, economic, regulatory and geographical features affect the purposes to which data are put and by whom?
  • How do policymakers construe and engage the affected publics?


·         Participation in the seminar is free, but registration is required. Details will be announced in January, 2020

·         The seminar will take place on August 24, 2020, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark

·         Funded by Australian Research Council and the European Research Council



August 24