Author Archives: Aristea Fotopoulou

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A video recording of the talk “Understanding data power from a feminist perspective”, which I gave at the 3rd International DATA POWER Conference global in/securities, an be accessed here. (hosted by the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with the Universities of Carleton, Canada, and Sheffield, UK, 12-13 September 2019)

You can read the relevant chapter in Fotopoulou, A. (2019). Understanding citizen data practices from a feminist perspective: embodiment and the ethics of care. In Stephansen, H. and Trere, E. (eds) Citizen Media and Practice.Taylor & Francis/Routledge: Oxford. See Google Books here 

An updated written version will appear in my forthcoming book Fotopoulou, A. Forthcoming. Feminist Data Studies: big data, critique and social justice. SAGE Publications.

Paper abstract

This theoretical paper introduces how the notion of “care”, as developed in feminist science and technology studies (de la Bellacasa 2011), can be a productive analytical and critical approach when scrutinizing the manifestation of power relations in data practices. The matters of power and the politics of data have far reaching implications for the politics of the everyday. The paper argues that approaching such political issues in data practices as “matters of care” allows us to account for their affective, embodied and material elements, including the habitually devalued human labour of data users, activists, producers, consumers and citizens. Outlining the differences between justice (Dencik et al. 2016, Taylor 2017) and ethics approaches to data power, it is further shown that, guided by the question “Why do we care?”, the notion of care inserts particularity and empathy in social justice frameworks. The paper provides examples of areas of application of an approach to data power guided by feminist politics of care, alongside issues of data governance, regulating the data-driven economy and data privacy laws. In this way the paper maps a theoretical roadmap of feminist data studies and practice theory, which is focused on materiality and embodiment and is committed to unsettling the power relation of race, class, gender and ability in datafied worlds.

References

de la Bellacasa, M.P., 2011. Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social studies of science, 41(1), pp.85-106.

Dencik, L., Hintz, A. and Cable, J., 2016. Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism. Big Data & Society, 3(2), p.2053951716679678.

Taylor, L., 2017. What is data justice? The case for connecting digital rights and freedoms globally. Big Data & Society, 4(2), p.2053951717736335.

 

We Need to Talk About Robots: Gender, Datafication and AI

Talk at Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster

Date And Time

Thu, 21 November 2019, 17:00 – 19:00 GMT

Location

University of Westminster

309 Regent Street, Room: RS UG04

London W1B 2HW

View Map    

Book here 

 

Tangle of colorful electric wires and cablesThis talk reviews how the acceleration of data infrastructure development and growing adoption of data practices in everyday life are entwined with wider cultural discourses about gender and sexuality. Using artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and social robots such as Alexa and Siri as an example, it analyses these links from a feminist data studies perspective focusing on three key themes.

First, it discusses the production of gender in everyday data practices, approaching everyday interactions and the household as sites of datafication. While the household is an ideological site central in the consumption of innovative technologies and the reproduction of hierarchical gender and labour relations, contemporary data technologies introduce unique new sets of conditions.

Second, the talk examines normative inscriptions of femininity and masculinity in the design of AI technologies. Questioning binary thinking and the “black-boxing” of gender identity in data studies, it considers the role of queer subjectivity and experience in the production of scientific knowledge.

Finally, the talk reflects on recent reports of symbolic and physical violence inflicted by data, and the vulnerabilities that automation and datafication represent for women, people of colour, and marginalised communities. It examines such data harms and vulnerabilities in relation to dominant perceptions of AI assistants and robots as “social actors” to illustrate the cultural and social contradictions that the domestication of robots introduces. This way the talk reinstates central questions of power and social justice in relation to new and emerging data technologies.

Talk at the BSA South-Coast Medical Sociology Study Group Symposium

BSA eventI look forward to speaking at the Symposium Creating Health and Wellbeing through Creative Endeavour(s) organised by the BSA South-Coast Medical Sociology Study Group in December.

Date And Time: Thursday, 5 December 2019, 13:00 – 16:00

For more info and to book click here

Building an interface between art and data science for health and wellbeing

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Brighton)

The adoption of personalised digital health environments (e.g. self-management mobile apps), big data (e.g. surveillance of infectious outbreaks) and AI algorithms that inform decisions about social and health care (e.g. IBM Watson Health for social care management) all raise important issues about data and privacy today. Meanwhile, health promotion and communication have also moved to a digitised age, with health organisations using texts and social media in order to educate about health risks and prevention. But what opportunities are offered to develop new arts-based, participatory public health strategies for health and wellbeing in the era of datafication and digital health?

This talk reports on a new project that aims to enhance public engagement with health data through art practice. More specifically, the project explores how art and creativity can enable health literacy and data science skills amongst socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to reduce health inequalities. It is anticipated that the research will build a participatory interface that involves creativity and use of data to improve health and wellbeing, while allowing audiences and participants to reflect on the ethical, social, and political and cultural issues of big data and personalised medicine.

Other speakers:

Cindy Brooks (University of Southampton)

Cindy Brooks is a Research Fellow and Medical Sociologist at the School of Health Sciences and at the NHS Wessex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). Cindy’s research interests are combining sociological theory with qualitative and mixed methods research to explore and improve the experiences of patients, their families and health and social care professionals.

Louise Baxter (University College London)

Louise Baxter is a Research Associate in Mental Health in the Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London. She works as part of the MARCH mental health research network, focusing on barriers to community participation.

Feminist approaches to data practices at Data Power Conference

Our panel “Feminist approaches to data practices” has been accepted at the 3rd International DATA POWER Conference global in/securities, hosted by the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with the Universities of Carleton (Canada) and Sheffield (UK), 12-13 September 2019.

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Here is the line-up of papers, in alphabetic order, and the panel rationale.

  • Lina Dencik: “Situating data (justice) in critical social theory”
  • Catherine D’Ignazio & Lauren Klein: “Data Feminism”
  • Aristea Fotopoulou: “Understanding data power from a feminist perspective: embodiment and the politics of care”
  • Stefania Milan: “What feminist theory of datafication emerges from contemporary data activism?”

PANEL RATIONALE

Data-based systems and technologies pose pressing issues in relation to social justice, and there is great need for focused and explicit critiques that addresses intersecting structural inequalities such as gender, race, ability and sexuality. Embarking from conceptualisations of data practice, this panel explores how feminist theoretical, methodological and praxis approaches can help us understand the structures of power and privilege is datafied worlds.

The programme will be announced soon.