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Catherine D'Ignazio: "Counting Feminicide: What Data Scientists Can Learn from Grassroots Feminist Activists"

On December 1, 2022, 12–1pm via Zoom, the Digital Scholarship Group, in collaboration with the NULab for Texts, Maps, and NetworksCollege of Arts, Media and Design, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, will be hosting a talk by MIT professor and CAMD affiliate Catherine D’Ignazio, titled “Counting Feminicide: What Data Scientists Can Learn from Grassroots Feminist Activists.”

Critiques and exposés of big data, artificial intelligence and the political economies of platforms have been mounting in recent years, with scholars exposing their extractivist and discriminatory logics with concepts like the New Jim Code (Benjamin), surveillance capitalism (Zuboff), automated inequality (Eubanks), and data colonialism (Couldry, Mejias, Ricaurte). How, then, can those of us who work with data science and AI use such tools in the service of equity, justice and liberation? In this talk, I make the case that data scientists, researchers, and planners can learn a great deal from the data practices of grassroots feminist activists working across the Americas to produce counterdata about feminicide – fatal gender-related violence against women and girls. Drawing from a large-scale participatory action research project called Data Against Feminicide, I will describe how data activists enact alternative epistemological approaches to data science that center care, memory and justice. These informatic practices constitute a form of “epistemic disobedience” to the reigning logics of data science. This talk, and the forthcoming book that it draws from, make the case that feminicide data activists are at the forefront of a data ethics that rigorously and consistently takes power and people into account.

Catherine D’Ignazio is a scholar, artist/designer and hacker mama who focuses on feminist technology and data justice. She has run reproductive justice hackathons, designed global news recommendation systems, and created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures. With Rahul Bhargava, she built the platform Databasic.io, a suite of tools and activities to introduce newcomers to data science. Her book, Data Feminism (MIT Press 2020), co-authored with Lauren F. Klein, charts a course for more ethical and empowering data science practices. Since 2019, she has co-organized Data Against Feminicide, a participatory action-research-design project, with Silvana Fumega and Helena Suárez Val. D‘Ignazio‘s forthcoming book, Counting Feminicide: Data Feminism in Action (MIT Press 2024), highlights how the data science practices of grassroots feminist activists across the Americas have a lot to teach mainstream practitioners about using data science in the service of justice. D’Ignazio is an Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. She is also Director of the Data + Feminism Lab which uses data and computational methods to work towards gender and racial justice, particularly in relation to space and place.

This event is free and open to the public, and the Zoom link will be provided upon registration. RSVP here.

Thursday, December 1, 2022
12:00pm - 1:00pm
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