Benedict Olgado, University of California, Irvine; Lucy Pei, University of California, Irvine; Roderic Crooks, University of California, Irvine;
As data-intensive technologies and data-driven policies become increasingly ubiquitous, community organizers, activists, unions, and human rights defenders are frequently rebuffed with the claim that there is a lack of data that prevents state and other actors from addressing issues of social and environmental justice. Ruha Benjamin has identified this as the 'datafication of injustice...in which the hunt for more and more data is a barrier to acting on what we already know.' At the same time, many of these actors also seek to utilize the political and rhetorical power of data. Those seeking to both use the potential of data to further their causes while also fighting against the epistemological harms of the datafication of injustice (and other harms of datafication, such as surveillance) face a double bind: they risk reifying the false paucity of data and the supremacy of datafied ways of knowing when engaging with data, yet risk losing much-needed resources if they reject the powerful rhetoric of data.
We seek to be in conversation with contributions from activists, academics, and artists that illustrate, examine, broaden, and/or question the data practices of collective actions given this double bind. From organizers fighting against police violence to activists championing environmental justice, union workers building power to human rights defenders going against authoritarian regimes, this panel aims to highlight the persistent paradoxes and costs of organizing and collective action in a datafied world.