May 2021

In the May meeting, we discussed readings centred around data profiling and classification. Specifically, we read chapter four of Barassai’s (2020) Child Data Citizen: How Tech Companies are Profiling Us from Birth, and Pierlejewski’s (2020) The Data-doppelganger and the Cyborg-self: Theorising the Datafication of Education. The readings both highlighted real harms that come with seemingly inevitable technological regimes. Barassi, for example, highlights how (in Britain) data is used to create and facilitate a hostile environment for those deemed ‘other’, primarily non-white residents and citizens. The issue faced here is the question of, is this a function of digital technology, or is this a function of educational systems (with digital technologies simply being one way of implementing biopolitical governance)? We also discussed alternative modes of data(fication), including if datafication can be held in common, or if it inevitably devolves into a monolithic power? If we are to believe datafication can, in fact, be held in common, a subversion of current structures is required; in particular, there must be a critical interrogation of the ‘othering’ of non-white, non-male, non-heteronormative people encoded within data regimes. This requires asking if these systems of data can be reshaped in a less normative image; resisting the current status quo, rather than making currently othered group more visible to data regimes? The readings for the upcoming meeting are intended to address this question.

Notes on the readings can be found here.

Minutes from the meeting can be found here.

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