3 Jul 2023 9am - 6.00pm S1, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site


Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH) invites scholars working with or on topics relating to (big) data, computation, artificial intelligence, and the tech-industry to a one-day interdisciplinary workshop on data—their histories, politics, forms, ontologies, medias, spatio-temporalities, and extensive use consequences.

The workshop seeks to understand recent transformations in data, changing from something that had to be manually and meticulously created, with clear and traceable source paths, to something that is now automated, hyperlinked, and big. With rapid evolution of infrastructures that support data storage and signalling, such as server farms, subsea cabling, and satellites, the materialities of data have become more and more occluded, concealed behind, say, the cloud, a metaphor for an ecologically extractive, planetary-scale industry. How have these changes influenced the tech-industrial conceptions of data and AI as such, as well as many of our everyday lives?

Some of the discussions we are interested in: histories of data and the tech-industry, ecologies of data; data subjects (and data shadows); anthropological approaches to data; post- and non-human approaches to data; materialities and immaterialities of data; data, power and the tech industry; political economies of data; culture studies and literary approaches to data; histories and prehistories of data (datum, ledgers); questions of data sovereignty; ‘abodes’ of data (libraries, archives, server stacks); Indigenous and Postcolonial appraisals of data; data in relation to state and statehood, and the legal instruments that allow for data trading and extraction.

The workshop is a mix of short (5 to 10min) paper presentations and collaborative roundtable discussions. We hope that our roundtables bring researchers together to find intersections between their work and their disciplines, opening up pathways for further collaborations. We welcome expressions of interest from scholars at any stage of their careers. Please include your name, affiliation, and area of research in the email. If you would like to be part of a panel or a roundtable discussion, also send us a title, and a one-sentence description for a short (5 to 10min) presentation by 15 May 2023. Send your emails to Amira (alam2@cam.ac.uk), Siddharth (ss2388@cam.ac.uk) or Alina (apu22@cam.ac.uk).

Convenors: Anne Alexander, Hugo Leal, Amira Moeding, Julia Rone, Siddharth Soni, Alina Utrata


8:00 - 9:00


9:00 - 9:15

Opening Remarks by Amira, Alina, Siddharth

9:15 - 10:30

Panel 1: Coloniality, Globalism and Ethnography

‘The Poverty of Ethical AI’
James Muldoon, University of Exeter

‘Algorithms: A Relational Perspective’
Tobias Matzner, University of Paderborn (online)

‘Who is open data for? A case study of archaeological heritage in South Asia and Africa’
Rebecca Roberts and Stefania Merlo, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge

10:30 - 11:00


11:00 - 12:00

Keynote Lecture:Prof Caroline Bassett (University of Cambridge)
‘Anti-Computing: Dissent and the Machine’
Click here for Abstract

12:00 - 1:00


1:00 - 2:00

Roundtable 1: Data, Technology, Government, States

‘Government information technology and its state(d) boundaries’
Nika Mahnic, Queen Mary University of London

‘Re-examining the discourse on Data poverty: Governments’ cultural environment in pursuit of better Data, AI, and Computational use’
Lucille Tetley-Brown, University of Glasgow & UNU-EGOV and Moinul Zaber, UNU-EGOV

‘The Intangible Economy: Understanding The Evolution Of Financial Transactions In 21st CE India’
Jyotsna Iyer, University College London

‘Posthuman War and the Imperial Histories of Automated Violence’
Italo Brandimarte, Department of Politics and International Studies – University of Cambridge

2:00 - 2:15


2:15 - 3:15

Roundtable 2: Relationships, Subjectivities, Economic and Social Relationships

‘Deindividuation of the Autonomous Subject in the Age of Artificial Intelligence:  On Agency, Technology, and Ethics’
Fabio Iapolo, Oxford Brookes University

‘Testing trouble: data and causal accounts in the world’s largest controlled experiment’
Elif Buse Doyuran, University of Edinburgh

‘Interfaces as sites of cooking and eating data’
Simiran Lalvani, University of Oxford

‘Beyond Individual Autonomy: Data Sovereignty and Care’
Birte de Gruisbourne, University of Paderborn

‘Feeling the Heat: Exploring Thermocultures in Tropical Data Centres’
Yee Win Neo, King’s College London

3:15 - 3:30


3:30 - 4:45

Panel 2: Political Economy and Legal Regulations

‘Data-Driven Supply Chains and Informational Capitalism’
Jennifer Cobbe, Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge

‘Code Ethnography’
Fernanda R. Rosa, Virginia Tech (online)

‘What is “data” in the emerging digital acquis?’
Catriona Gray, University of Bath

4:45 - 5:00


5:00 - 6:00

Roundtable 3: Aesthetics, Data Collection, Moderation and Platforms

‘Data biases in large digital collections’
Waltraud von Pippich, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

‘Mass Disposability: Biopolitics and the Digital Multitude ‘
Carleigh Morgan, University of Cambridge, Cambridge Film and Screen

‘Sampling Infrastructured Devices with Mobile Applications in the Unheard City’
Iain Emsley, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick University

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk