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Call for Papers: Datab(i)ased Identities

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2023

Session organisers: Kuba Jablonowski and Sam Kinsley, University of Exeter


Individual and collective identities are variously digitally mediated and with varying levels of intensity and distribution. As scholars from several disciplines have forcefully noted (cf. Amoore 2020, Benjamin 2019, Lupton 2019), throughout a range of public and private contexts, personal attributes and social relations are reconfigured as data, so they can be circulated and computed by public and private actors, with or without knowledge or consent. We variously opt in, as quantified selves (Lupton 2016) and are, perhaps unknowingly, calculated both as specific individuals, as a data-derived ‘subject’ (or derivative ‘dividuals’), and as one or more classified type/s (Amoore 2021, 2020). Datafications of identities, and their study, are, following Barnett (2015, pace Foucault) forms of problematisation – how and why the calculation, aggregation and distribution of ‘identity’ characteristics as ‘data’ become a problem (cf. Benjamin 2019, Lupton 2019). Such problematisations are central to contemporary debates around data and identities. Whether through banking apps, risk scores biometric profiles, welfare provision, predictive policing or immigration enforcement, such digital processing has been problematised as a datafication of identities. Long standing issues around biases constituted along lines of difference, such as through ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, are, following Barnett (2015) “amplifications or intensifications of domains of engaged action”, they constitute a “pressing analytical task… no longer viewed as one of critical disruption, but rather …of rearranging what is already known, of seeking to “make visible what is visible”” (Barnett, 2015, n.p. citing Orford, 2012: 618). Central to the problematisation of data-based identities is the priority of injustice (Barnett 2017).

We invite proposals that explore and problematise individual and/or collective aspects of datafied identities and the injustices they generate, reflect, and/or intensify. Authors may wish to present accounts of datafied identities as a product of political economy, colonial power, governmental practice, or propose alternative approaches. We invite contributions that span a range of conceptual interventions and empirical studies that consider, but are not limited to: self-generated digital identities, such as online platform profiles or social media accounts, as well as externally generated digital identities, such as government authentication systems or digital immigration services.

Proposals may wish to consider themes such as (but not limited to) questions of:

  • authenticity, 
  • creativity, 
  • control, 
  • discrimination, 
  • governmentality,
  • ownership, 
  • privacy, 
  • risk, 
  • subjectification,
  • surveillance,
  • and/or other relevant themes

In this session we welcome submissions of conceptual and/or empirical contributions across geographical fields, scales, and approaches that engage with, and at the confluence of, the themes of data and identities. The session is intended to be in-person, with up to 5 papers of approximately 15 minutes each. There is scope to also explore a hybrid format to widen participation and broaden our perspective. We encourage researchers who consider themselves, or may be considered, from marginalised backgrounds to get in touch.

To propose a contribution, please email 250-word abstracts to j.jablonowski@exeter.ac.uk and s.kinsley@exeter.ac.uk by no later than 15 March 2023 (to avoid strike days before the RGS’s deadline).

References

  • Amoore, L 2021. “The Deep Border”. Political Geography, 102547.
  • Amoore, L. 2020. Cloud ethics: algorithms and the attributes of ourselves and others. Duke University Press.
  • Barnett, C. 2017. The Priority of Injustice: Locating Democracy in Critical Theory. University of Georgia Press.
  • Barnett, C. 2015. “On Problematization: Elaborations on a Theme in “Late Foucault””. NonSite.org 16, n.p.
  • Benjamin, R. 2019. Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. Polity.
  • Lupton, D. 2019. Data Selves: More-than-human Perspectives. Wiley & Sons.
  • Lupton, D. 2016. The Quantified Self. Wiley & Sons.