Many social groups and geographical areas are virtually absent from the narration of the COVID-19 emergency. They are given a voice in a new blog co-organised and co-edited by Stefania Milan, Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the UvA. The blog invites authors to contribute research-informed analyses that reflect on one or more aspects of the datafied society at the time of this pandemic from an explicitly human-centred perspective.
The COVID-19 from the margins blog is multilingual and aims to collaboratively explore the consequences of this first pandemic in the datafied society on communities. While the virus is ‘democratically’ reaching all corners of the globe, some social groups and geographic areas remain invisible to the counting as well as to collective concern and care. This is the case for, to name but a few, many impoverished countries in the so-called Global South, but also for communities that have been made practically invisible, such as migrant farmworkers in Western Europe, victims of domestic violence whose condition is now worsened by the government-imposed lockdown, and families in need whose biometric access to food rations has been suspended due to pandemic.
These groups are offered a platform by this blog, which is edited by Stefania Milan, Silvia Masiero (Loughborough University) and Emiliano Treré (Cardiff University). They invite authors to contribute research-informed analyses that reflect on one or more aspect of the datafied society at the time of the pandemic (from surveillance and data production to technological solutions or obstacles), while explicitly taking a human-centred perspective (think of impact on data privacy, redistribution of resources and access to key services).
COVID-19 from the margins is a project within The Big Data from the South Initiative, launched in 2017 by Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré, which forms a space for the discussion of the challenges of datafication specifically in the ‘South(s)’ (a composite entity which goes beyond the geographical connotation and forms a place of resistance and creativity).
The Big Data from the South Research Initiative is supported by DATACTIVE, a research project mainly formed by members of the Department of Media Studies and the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis at the UvA. The project seeks to explore the politics of big data broadly defined and take a critical look at massive data collection, privacy and surveillance; social movements, activism and internet activism; internet infrastructure, cybersecurity and their governance; and open data and civic tech networks.