Towards an Anthropology of Data
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Issue Book Series
1. Edition June 2021
180 Pages, Softcover
Wiley & Sons Ltd
This volume presents a set of theoretically inventive pieces that engage with data across its many locations, from government databases to ecological field stations, from kitchen tables to concrete bunkers. The contributors demonstrate how thinking with data can be conceptually generative for anthropology, prompting us to reconsider our understanding of topics including bodies, persons, and the social itself. 'Data' is a notoriously slippery concept, often signaling claims to remote objectivity and universality; by putting data in its place, the pieces collected here develop conceptual tools that will prove useful for anthropologists who find 'data' in their data.
Price: 24,90 €
Price incl. VAT, excl. Shipping
This volume presents a set of theoretically inventive pieces that engage with data across its many locations, from government databases to ecological field stations, from kitchen tables to concrete bunkers.
* Contributors demonstrate how thinking with data can be conceptually generative for anthropology, prompting us to reconsider our understanding of topics including bodies, persons, and the social itself
* Shows how 'big' data which may have once seemed limited to business or high tech, ethnographers are now finding data - and its attendant values and practices - in their field sites around the world
* Examines how data has motivated a sweep of dystopian visions, signaling the invasion of privacy, political manipulation, or shadowy data doubles
* Discusses how anthropologists have been cautious in taking data itself as an object of theoretical interest, even as the effects of data become manifest in our ethnographies
* By putting data in its place, the chapters collected here develop conceptual tools that will prove useful for anthropologists who find 'data' in their data
(Rachel Douglas-Jones, Antonia Walford & Nick Seaver) Introduction: Towards an anthropology of data 9
1 (Vijayanka Nair) Becoming data: biometric IDs and the individual in 'Digital India' 26
2 (Nick Seaver) Everything lies in a space: cultural data and spatial reality 43
3 (Tahani Nadim) The datafication of nature: data formations and new scales in natural history 62
4 (A.R.E. Taylor) Future-proof: bunkered data centres and the selling of ultra-secure cloud storage 76
5 (Cori Hayden) From connection to contagion 95
6 (Hannah Knox) Hacking anthropology 108
7 (Antonia Walford) Data - ova - gene - data 127
8 (Sarah Blacker) Strategic translation: pollution, data, and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge 142
9 (Rachel Douglas-Jones) Bodies of data: doubles, composites, and aggregates 159
(Bill Maurer) Data forward: an afterword 171
Antonia Walford is Lecturer in Digital Anthropology at University College London. Their research explores the effects of digital data and datafication on social, cultural and political imaginaries and practices, with ethnographic focus on the environmental sciences and the Brazilian Amazon. They are the co-editor of A World Laid Waste? Responding to the Social, Cultural and Political Consequences of Globalisation; Lineages and Advancements in Material Culture Studies: perspectives from UCL Anthropology and Environmental Alterities (forthcoming).
Nick Seaver is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University, where he teaches in the Science, Technology, and Society program. He studies how technologists make sense of cultural concerns like taste and attention, conducting ethnographic fieldwork with programmers, computer scientists, and entrepreneurs in the United States. His work has been published in journals including Big Data & Society, Cultural Anthropology, and the Journal of Material Culture.