Reblog> Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

Via The Data Justice Lab.

Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

The Data Justice Lab will be officially launched on Friday, 17 March 2017. Join us for the launch event at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at 4pm. Three international speakers will discuss the challenges of data justice.

The event is free but requires pre-booking at

Data Justice Lab — Launch Event — Friday 17 March 4pm — Cardiff University

Our financial transactions, communications, movements, relationships, and interactions with government and corporations all increasingly generate data that are used to profile and sort groups and individuals. These processes can affect both individuals as well as entire communities that may be denied services and access to opportunities, or wrongfully targeted and exploited. In short, they impact on our ability to participate in society. The emergence of this data paradigm therefore introduces a particular set of power dynamics requiring investigation and critique.

The Data Justice Lab is a new space for research and collaboration at Cardiff University that has been established to examine the relationship between datafication and social justice. With this launch event, we ask: What does social justice mean in age of datafication? How are data-driven processes impacting on certain communities? In what way does big data change our understanding of governance and politics? And what can we do about it?

We invite you to come and participate in this important discussion. We will be joined by the following keynote speakers:

Virginia Eubanks (New America), Malavika Jayaram (Digital Asia Hub), and Steven Renderos (Center for Media Justice).

Virginia Eubanks is the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age (MIT Press, 2011) and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY Press, 2014). She is also the cofounder of Our Knowledge, Our Power (OKOP), a grassroots economic justice and welfare rights organization. Professor Eubanks is currently working on her third book, Digital Poorhouse, for St. Martin’s Press. In it, she examines how new data-driven systems regulate and discipline the poor in the United States. She is a Fellow at New America, a Washington, D.C. think tank and the recipient of a three-year research grant from the Digital Trust Foundation (with Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Joseph Turow) to explore the meaning of digital privacy and data justice in marginalized communities.

Malavika Jayaram is the Executive Director of the Digital Asia Hub in Hong Kong. Previously she was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she focused on privacy, identity, biometrics and data ethics. She worked at law firms in India and the UK, and she was voted one of India’s leading lawyers. She is Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern University and a Fellow with the Centre for Internet & Society, India, and she is on the Advisory Board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Steven Renderos is Organizing Director at the Center for Media Justice. With over 10 years of organizing experience Steven has been involved in campaigns to lower the cost of prison phone calls, preserving the Open Internet, and expanding community owned radio stations. Steven previously served as Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project, an initiative focused on improving the quality and quantity of media coverage and representation of Latinos in Minnesota. He currently serves on the boards of Organizing Apprenticeship Project and La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. Steven (aka DJ Ren) also hosts a show called Radio Pocho at a community radio station and spins at venues in NYC.

The event will be followed by a reception.

Investigating Google’s revolving door with governments – Tactical Tech Collective

Some really interesting work from the Tactical Team looking at the ways in which different people and their skills and knowledges move in and out of government and the ‘Alphabet empire’. Worth a full read, but here’s a snippet to whet the appetite…

The Alphabet Empire by Tactical Tech and La Loma as shown in The Glass Room in New York. Based on openly available information, this 3-D infographic combines a quote from its chairman, Eric Schmidt, with a mapping of its acquisitions and investments.
By Google’s own admission, the company, like many others, cultivates close relationships with governmental bodies and public officials. Google disclosed that in 2015 it spent over €4 million on lobbying the European Union – considerably more than the €1 million on lobbying spent just three years previously in 2012.

But some of Google’s relationships with public bodies and officials come with a smaller price tag: Over the past ten years at least 80 people have been identified to have moved jobs between Google and European governments.

It’s this “revolving door” that formed the basis of our investigation. We started out with a number of questions: who were these people who had moved from Google to government or vice versa? Where exactly did they move from and to, and when? And most importantly how many of these questions could we find answers to using open, publicly-available information?

Here’s what we learned, and how we did it.

CFP> Creative propositions and provocations on the heritages of data-trade-place-value

Paula Crutchlow, with Ian Cook and I, invite submissions for the following session for this year’s RGS-IBG conference. Please do share this with anyone (doesn’t have to be geographers) who may be interested. As we say below, we welcome any kind of creative response to the theme. The session builds on Paula’s PhD project The Museum of Contemporary Commodities, which will be active before and throughout the conference in the RGS-IBG building.

Museum of Contemporary Commodities: creative propositions and provocations on the heritages of data-trade-place-value

How do we open out the messy digital geographies of trade, place and value to the world? How can we work with the digital beyond beyond archives, spectacle and techno-dystopian imaginations? How do we do so in a ways that are performative, collaborative and provocative of the digital?

This session builds on the planned hosting of the Museum of Contemporary Commodities (MoCC) in the RGS(IBG)’s Pavilion in the days leading up to the annual conference (and its partial installation in the RGS(IBG) building during the conference) where it will join the V&A, Science and Natural History Museums on London’s Exhibition Road. Developed as acts of valuing the things we buy today as the heritage of tomorrow, MoCC’s artworks take the form of dynamic, collaborative hacks and prototypes; socio-material processes, objects and events that aim to enrol publics in trade justice debates in light footed, life-affirming, surprising and contagious ways as part of their daily routines.

We invite prospective participants to offer propositions and provocations that stitch into or unpick the complex and sometime knotty patchwork quilt of data-trade-place-value. This is an invitation to contribute to and convene conversations that enliven geographical understandings of the governance, performance, placings and values/valuing of contemporary (digitally) mediated material culture. The resulting session is not conceived as a ‘conventional’ paper session. We invite submissions of ten-minute contributions that might take various forms, which might include essay, performance, video and many other creative responses to the theme.

This invitation should be understood in its broadest sense. We are interested in the commingling and mash-up of the theme(s) data-trade-place-value. We very much encourage submissions that push back against the normative authorities or discourses surrounding ‘the digital’ (however that might be conceived). So, we hope that all involved in the session will thereby be challenged and inspired by creative propositions and provocations that begin to get to the heart of how we open out the messy digital geographies of trade, place and value to the world.
Themes could include:

  • lively methods that work with and through participatory media
  • intimacy, humour, trust and the internet of things
  • mashups, subversions and hacks of big data from the bottom up
  • discourses and practises of future orientation and the spatial imaginations of ‘the digital’
  • an intersectional internet and the rise of ‘platforms’
  • alternative trade models, value systems and networked culture
  • DIWO (Do It With Others), scholar-activism & public pedagogy
  • the economic geographies of the battle for ‘open’
  • Please submit 250 word abstracts to us by email by 7 February and we will get back to you by 13 February.

Network of Concerned Geographers – a polite reminder & invitation to sign the petition

The petition of the AAG by the Network of Concerned Geographers (NCG), expressing concern about the growing involvement of the US military in the discipline of geography has only a few more signatures needed.

If you have not signed and are interested to know more about this, please visit the petition web page and consider signing.


Reblog> Ways to make safety pin solidarity actually safer

Nice piece by Sara Koopman:

have posted repeatedly on this blog about people wearing different things to signal solidarity of various sorts. I research how people build alternative securities through solidarity – so I have been following the debates about recent attempts to create safety by wearing safety pins.

If you are in the US, and maybe even Canada, you have probably heard about wearing a safety pin to signal solidarity for safety in the face of a hateful attack. But I will start with a brief explanation for global readers, since I recently presented on it at a workshop in Brussels and no one had heard of it. This was all the more surprising since it was a workshop on ‘Nurturing solidarity in diversity’ put on by the DieGem research group (see their paper on that page about their work, Putting flesh to the bone).People started wearing safety pins in the UK after Brexit, in response to a huge rise in anti-immigrant attacks. It was inspired by the by the #illridewithyou movement in Australia, in which people offered to take public transportation with Muslims fearing a backlash after a Muslim gunman held people hostage in a cafe in 2014. I believe the initial idea was to signal something like ‘I will step in to create safety’ in the case of an anti-immigrant attack.

Read the rest of the post here.

The Museum of Contemporary Commodities in EXETER

The Museum of Contemporary Commodities

Just a quick note to let you know that the brilliant Paula Crutchlow has brought “The Museum of Contemporary Commodities” (MoCC) to Exeter for the majority of May.

There’s lots going on, much of it creative and interesting – so if you’re in Exeter or nearby: come and visit!

Two immediate things this week:

RIGHT NOW!: help re-create the internet in paper with Artist Louise Ashcroft from 11 -2 in the Exeter University Forum.

TOMORROW: sign up to do a data walkshop with Alison Powell from the LSE on Saturday from 10-1. Places have to be booked, and the Eventbrite page is here

Please do visit the MoCC website for lots more events and activities taking place this month and visit the shop:

87 Fore St,

Open 10:00-18:00pm Weds-Sat, 4th-21st May.

Reblog> Jane McAlevey: Workshop on Social Movement Unionism

This looks good. Another interesting event found through Mark Purcell

Understanding power and strategy for effective organizing10am-5.30pm Tuesday 28 June 2016

University of Leeds,

Room 1.02, 20 Lyddon Terrace, Leeds, LS2 9JT
For map:

Attendance fees (includes lunch & refreshments) £20

NOTE: places are limited. You must register and pay in advance. Details can be found at

Jane McAlevey is well-known in the American labor movement as the hard-charging organizer who racked up a string of victories at a time when union leaders said winning wasn’t possible. In her book /Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)/ Jane argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s.In short, she advocates whole worker organising through social movement unionism.

Rather than building community-labour alliances, the whole worker organizing approach merges workplace and non-workplace issues into a tight blend. Jane had years of experience in community organizing prior to becoming a fulltime union organizer and negotiator and her approaches flow from the combined experience of union and community organizing. These methods have been successful in winning local political campaigns in addition to worker organizing campaigns.

Jane has recently completed her PhD and is currently teaching at Harvard University Law School on the Labor and Worklife Program.

This day-long workshop, supported by the *British Universities Industrial Relations Association,* is aimed at trade union an community activists who are interested in developing a greater understanding of the differences between organizing and mobilizing and how to undertake power analysis for effective organizing.

Workshop details

10am: Registration and refreshments

10.15am: introductions

10.30-1pm: morning workshops

1pm-2pm: Buffet Lunch: provided in attendance fee

2pm-5.50pm: afternoon workshops

Topics to be covered include:

·Core differences between organizing and mobilizing approaches.

·What is an organic leader?

·Differences between activists and leaders.

·Understandingpower: the relationship between strategies and power analysis.

This event is being sponsored by the British Universities Industrial Relations Association. Its annual conference on ‘Employment relations towards 2020 and beyond: reflection, prospects and opportunities’ will follow this workshop on 29 June–1^st July at The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 3AD.

If you wish to attend please contact Jane Holgate: j.holgate [at]

Does critical geography need a shock to thought? On Purcell’s ‘joyful geography’

Over on his blog Path to the Possible Mark Purcell has written a thoughtful and interesting piece diagnosing a slip into a kind of cynicism, or perhaps a rut in ‘critical’ thinking in geography, that the predominant disposition of criticality in ‘critical geography’ is of being against— :  “against colonialism, against capitalism, against racism, etc.”.

Purcell argues that a negative consensus of what constitutes ‘criticality’ has developed that has created an orthodoxy of negation:

“I worry that we have become inordinately attached to singing in this key, that we have become unable to do anything other than cancel what we oppose.”

Indeed, this echoes a criticism of the over-coding of the various readings of what one might mean by ‘neo-liberalism’ by James Ferguson in Antipode that, as Clive Barnett summarises: “identifies a standard style of critique as denunciation of exploitation, inequality and oppression” but that can also be rather limited.

In this way we might understand such an orthodoxy of a perpetuation of an adaption to the contemporary milieu, in the form of a negation of its conditions (such as, for example, labelling everything ‘neoliberalism’) rather than an adoption and then rethinking the practices/processes of the conditions that produce it [I’m riffing on Stiegler’s distinction between adaption (as a tendency towards dis-individuation) and adoption (as a tendency towards co-individuation)]. This ‘orthodoxy of negation’ (as I have chosen to call it) can be characterised as a kind of entropy, a slip from proactive thought into what might be a kind of un-thinking or ‘unreason’  and ‘stupidity’ (as Stiegler has it in States of Shock). Stupidity is a necessary tendency for all of us insofar as it is the precondition for knowledge, but we need a shock to thought in order to reinvigorate our capacities for knowledge. Of course, we are overburdened by shocks (as Naomi Klein outlines in The Shock Doctrine) that appear to arrive with increasing frequency. Rather than submit to simply adapting to the onslaught of ever-more-frequent shocks, following Stiegler’s analysis, we need to engender a therapeutic form of ‘shock’ to our thinking that doesn’t simply confirm a status quo of the orthodoxy of negation.

Reading this together with the argument presented by James Ferguson, who argues:

“what if politics is really not about expressing indignation or denouncing the powerful? What if it is, instead, about getting what you want? … Denunciatory analyses often treat government as the simple expression of power or domination—the implication apparently being that it is politically objectionable that people should be governed at all. But any realistic sort of progressive politics that would seek a serious answer to the question “what do we want?” will have to involve an exploration of the contemporary possibilities for developing genuinely progressive arts of government.”

Thus the habitual ruts of critique that Ferguson calls the “antis” (anti-globalisation, anti-neo-liberalism, anti-privatisation, etc.) in which any exercise of power is considered in some way dubious are, perhaps analogous to the forms of ‘stupidity’ (of entropy) that Stiegler argues against. I am not offering a simple and pejorative sweeping dismissal of any of those so-called “anti–” positions, neither am I making a glib appeal to Marx’s 11th thesis on Feuerbach. Nevertheless, I am suggesting that a more affirmative attitude might be necessary and that we all need to be aware of our own ‘stupidity’ (otherwise there’s simply no hope for individuation!).

I welcome a call for ‘joyfulness’ in research and in ‘critique’, a more affirmative attitude towards the exercise of power in the face of the orthodoxy of negation and all of this reminded me of Clive’s excellent reading of James Ferguson’s paper, upon which some of this post has been based. So, for me (and for what its worth) I guess I would advocate a kind of practical joyfulness – one that aspires to the same precepts of communing, of mutual aid, of solidarity that Purcell discusses in his blogpost and begins from the everydayness of doing geography (as an academic, as a teacher, as an activist and so on).

I’ve hardly slept due to a poorly child but I do think it’s worth reading all of these things I’ve linked here together to formulate a way of moving forward… just my grain de sel‎ 🙂

Power, powerlessness, entropy and dissent. A manifesto by de Lagasnerie and Louis & response by Stiegler

Over on the LA Review of Books site there is a really interesting sort of ‘call and response‘ debate, in which Geoffrey de Lagasanerie (Prof. of Philosophy at ÉNS) and Edouard Louis (author) offer a manifesto for counter-acting a perceived capturing of politics by a kind of right-wing intellectualism (this was originally published in Le Monde, and translated for LARB), to which Bernard Stiegler (philosopher & activist) offers a forthright response (translated for LARB).

de Lagasanerie and Louis observe:

Against this massive political-intellectual dynamic [populism, Islamophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, antisemitism], a general mood is established. It would not be an exaggeration to say that there are many today who make their living off of this disarray and sadness. To experience politics, for most of us now, is to experience powerlessness.

and offer a kind of manifesto, or set of principles, in response: to refuse to recognise particular ideologues; to recognise refugees and racists alike as what they are rather than bow to a perceived deception; to ‘redistribute shame’ by making those on the far-right understand that their remarks are worthy of nothing but contempt; and finally: to intervene, wherever possible. They argue that:

…we cannot just lament the situation without questioning the means of creating new structures. In fact, all hope is not lost: the Zemmours and Houellebecqs are bent on denying what they really are, and lying. The left continues to dominate symbolically. In France, “intellectual right” remains an oxymoron, better still: an impossibility. We must at least rejoice in that.

In response, Bernard Stiegler opposes the sweeping generalisation of the identification of any kind of ‘intellectual’ which for him validates a kind of proleterianisation (after Marx) that is (in fact) a loss of knowledge (regardless of class position):

In the first place, for any thinking that claims to think powerlessness (and “to say things other than what is already agreed”), the common noun “intellectual” (“an intellectual,” “intellectuals”) must not only be the subject of critique, but should be scrupulously avoided. […] The figure of “the intellectual” is an unfortunate invention that unquestioningly internalizes the opposition between “manual workers” and “intellectuals,” […] Behind all this lies proletarianization, which today affects all forms of knowledge, and firstly as a destruction of knowledge — of how to live, do, and conceptualize.

Stiegler moves on to discuss how the issue of powerlessness not only stems from the issues that de Lagasnerie & Louis diagnose but are, further, entrenched and tied up with these forms of proletarianisation (losses of knowledge), in which even those apparently radical thinkers on the left are somewhat complicit (with a particular withering for Badiou). It is worth quoting at length here:

Geoffroy de Lagasnerie and Edouard Louis deplore the absence of intellectual debate. For my part I deplore that, like Manuel Valls, they have apparently never heard either of Pharmacologie du Front National or of States of Shock — in which I argue that so-called “post-structuralism” has significantly contributed, in France and elsewhere, to the legitimation first of neoliberal discourse and then libertarian discourse, the libertarians being those who are the practitioners of disruption.

This is occurring not only because “intellectuals” yield to the drive-based ideology of the extreme right as it continues to gain ground. It is because there is no thought of the present age worthy of the name — and here, where I am resolutely “on the left,” I would never say that such a thought “worthy of the name” would necessarily be on the left.

The “intellectuals,” whether of the “left” or the “right,” are stuck in an antiquated opposition between “intellectual” and “manual” that refers in a more profound way to the opposition between logos and tekhne against which Marx fought, and which he posited as the basis of the ideology that was then called “bourgeois.” This has largely been forgotten, in particular by the heirs of Althusser and firstly by Alain Badiou. For the consequence lies in the fact that, contrary to what Badiou’s hero, Plato, wants to prove, knowledge is always constituted by technics, which in so doing always constitutes a social relation.

In this forgetting of the technological composition (in all of the meanings of that word) of society and humanity we fail to recognise the context of what is variously (by politicians and technologists alike) referred to as ‘disruption’. Stiegler argues (somewhat) in passing here, and in greater detail elsewhere, that this is precisely what is stake in coming to know/understand the ‘anthropocene’. He discusses how this relates to contemporary feelings of powerlessness through the trope of entropy/negentropy – which he has been working with across various books (some of which have recently been translated and some which are still to be translated):

Entropy is becoming, devenir. Negentropy is what inscribes within it a future, avenir. Becoming and future have until today been confused. It is this confusion that makes us powerless, and it is what the impasse of the Anthropocene reveals. Such a perspective is also an immense building site for intellectual construction — open to all those who still have the ability to think for themselves, rather than vainly repeat received ideas.

These two articles are well worth a read, they offer an interesting counter-poise to anglophone debates about the multiple ‘crises’ in Europe (of refugees, of the rise of the far-right, of the capitulation of democracy to technocracy etc. etc.). Plus they’re good fun to read 🙂

Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive by Geoffroy de Lagasnerie & Edouard Louis, translated by Adam Briscoe.

Power, Powerlessness, Thinking, and Future by Bernard Stiegler, translated by Daniel Ross.