[CITASA] CFP - AAG 2015 - Critical Data/Tech CFPs
burnsr77 at gmail.com
Sun Sep 7 21:14:42 EDT 2014
Jim Thatcher, Craig Dalton and I have co-organized two sessions on critical
data/technology studies for this year's AAG, April 21-25 in Chicago. We
would encourage CITASA members to apply! Please see below for more
information and instructions on how to submit abstracts.
Critical Data, Critical Technology: in Theory
In recent years, geographers and other social scientists have begun
engaging new data infrastructures, representational technologies, and the
resulting analyses as they have emerged in private industry, academic
research, and government agencies. Moving beyond simple claims of the “end
of theory” (Anderson 2008), it is no longer a question of *if* anyone
thinks ‘big data’ calls for academic analysis. The challenge is now how to
approach the complex epistemological and ontological issues raised by
emerging data and technology writ large. In turn, the new forms of analyses
and sources of data have spurred academic debates over the social and
political implications of data analytics and technology (Crampton et al.
2014; Kitchin and Dodge 2011). Recently, researchers have proposed a series
of prompts that indicate an incipient critical approach to data studies
(boyd and Crawford 2011; Dalton and Thatcher 2014). However, in this
field’s nascence, more questions have been raised than answers. For
example, geographers and social scientists have yet to address the ways a
critical study of data might intersect with and draw from larger critiques
In these paired sessions, we seek to explore and evaluate critical
approaches to data, analytics, and new spatial technologies in a common
forum. This session focuses on theorizations and conceptual approaches and
the complex ontological and epistemological commitments entailed in them.
Promising questions include:
How do we situate big data spatially and temporally? In what ways have
these contexts impacted its particular development and adoption processes?
What is at stake in data and analytics today? What can/does data change?
Does big data pose challenges to current understandings of
‘participation’ and ‘democracy’?
What relations of power emerge alongside big data?
What formations of surveillance, sousveillance, and privacy are
Who are the subjects in play and how are they subjectified? Under what
conditions and relationalities have these actors become subjects of big
What are users’ experiences and perceptions of big data ‘on the ground’?
How does this impact the ways in which they leverage spatial big data
technologies or produce data? Potential considerations include privacy,
social networks, activism, and citizen science.
What lines of resonance or distinction may be drawn between the
political economies of ‘traditional’ spatial technologies/data and
spatial big data? How are we to understand the emergent political
economic relations of big data specifically?
What new, alternative conceptions of data and knowledge do these
processes open? What new systems of knowledge are produced as technologies
seek to quantify and calculate ever-more of everyday life and experience?
Critical Data, Critical Technology: in Praxis
Big data is currently engaged in diverse sectors, including academic
research, civic engagement, urban administration, digital humanitarianism,
international development, and public health. These diverse practices show
potential for integrating principles and lessons from critical scholarship,
but much work needs to be done to build and maintain these connections. How
can big data be practiced critically? In what ways is this work already
being done? What can practitioners learn from applied studies of
technology? How might big data become part of critical practice? How can
critical scholars benefit from a greater understanding of existing praxis
outside the walls of the academy?
Recently, researchers have proposed a series of prompts that indicate an
incipient critical approach to data studies (boyd and Crawford 2011; Dalton
and Thatcher 2014). However, in this field’s nascence, more questions have
been raised than answers. For example, the very definition and utility of
‘small data’ remains contested. In these paired sessions, we seek to
explore and evaluate critical approaches to data, analytics, and new
spatial technologies in a common forum. In this session, we are interested
in how practitioners are mobilizing data, technologies, and analytics in
ways that resonate with ‘critical data and technology studies’. We are
interested both in existing practices and in potential connections between
theory and praxis.
Promising questions include:
How is big data being used right now in various sectors, and in what
ways do these practices resonate with or challenge some of the ideas from
critical data and technology studies?
How can big data be used to challenge social and political relations?
For instance, how is big data utilized in activism, protests, social
justice movements, and community organizing? Can researchers use data
and technologies in their scholar-activism?
How can new approaches challenge the power effects existing relations of
data, technology, and knowledge production?
What application areas are particularly amenable to lessons from critical
data and technology studies? In what ways can these lessons translate
into new practices?
How can scholars of critical data and technology studies distribute the
results of our research to practitioners, in ways that affect positive
How can we build and maintain bridges between researchers and
If interested in participating in either session, please submit an abstract
of no more than 250 words to Jim Thatcher (jethatch at uw.edu) on or
Please indicate in the submission whether you are interested in
participating in the Theory or Praxis session.
Organizers: Jim Thatcher, University of Washington - Tacoma; Craig Dalton,
University of Bloomsberg; Ryan Burns - University of Washington
Dept of Geography, University of Washington
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