Janaki Srinivasan and Bidisha Chaudhuri at seminar on Commodification of data in the Global South

Dates: 25/04/2023

Prof. Janaki Srinivasan and Prof. Bidisha Chaudhuri were part of a seminar titled Data A multidisciplinary approach – Commodification and data in the Global South to share insights from their own work on data and the varied practices surrounding it. The seminar was conducted in collaboration with the French Institute, Pondicherry and was led by Janaki Srinivasan (IIIT Bangalore) and Marine Al Dahdah (CEMS EHESS – French Institute of Pondicherry).

About the Seminar:

Data. A multidisciplinary approach – Commodification and data in the Global South
Seminar coordinated by Laurène Le Cozanet (Ifris, CEMS, EHESS) and Anne Bellon (CosTech, UTC), with the support of Ifris (Labex Sites).

Data is not pure facts, reminds us of the epistemology of statistics, and must be seen more as abstractions, sources of knowledge provided that they associate a value and an indication of the status of this value – a unit of measurement, for example. The existence of these abstractions nevertheless implies very concrete people, processes and devices. Whether it is to produce or acquire the data, to store it, process it, interpret it and act on it, it takes surveys, sensors, media, conventions, manual input and algorithms, labour in several forms.

The accelerated diffusion of digital technologies, the tenfold possibilities for collecting and analyzing digital “traces”, the growing use of these data for surveillance and, more broadly, government purposes, or even the global rise in the trade of data, personal in particular, have completed the removal of “data” from the sole domain of statistics: it is now a common object of public administration, the economy, law, health, and many still other sectors of human activity.

How to think together these different aspects? What is data made of? What can they be used for and under what conditions? Can we own data? How can they be the subject of market transactions? What does it mean to “protect” data? Without necessarily being confined to the digital, this seminar proposes to bring together the answers provided by different disciplines to these questions: sociology, political science, anthropology, history, but also information and communication sciences, computer science, law or even philosophy.

Find out more about the seminar here.

CITAPP at IIIT Bangalore is an interdisciplinary think-tank set-up to focus on the policy challenges and the organizational demands made by technological innovation. Of particular interest to the Centre is how technological advances, along with institutional changes that harness the legitimacy and the powers of bureaucracies and market, address the needs of underserved communities.