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Accepted Paper:

Datafied mnemopolitics and entangled expertise  
Benedict Olgado (University of the Philippines)

Short abstract:

In the datafication of the human rights field various expertise persist, emerge, adapt, and are displaced as they are shaped and mediated by the databases they engender. I account for the strategies employed by experts entangled in and transformed by this ‘datafied mnemopolitics.’

Long abstract:

Databases emerged as a central infrastructure in the human rights field. The web of technical, formal, and social practices that surround these databases render violations as calculable metrics, turn actors into datafied bodies, and manage evidence as digital objects (Bowsher). Various actors—from lawyers to victims/survivors, documentalists to software engineers—with their respective claims to expertise entrust and layer things and meaning on to and through this complex assemblage. This datafication bring novel avenues for pursuing justice. It also has the potential to exacerbate epistemic violence in/of the field already entangled in the geopolitics of expertise.

This paper draws from my two-year ethnographic work at an international NGO building databases for human rights groups. I study these databases as boundary objects (Star) and contact zones (Pratt) where various experts and expertise present, encounter, compete, negotiate, and translate memory practices (Bowker). In this often-contentious processes of what I call “datafied mnemopolitics,” expertise persist, emerge, adapt, and are displaced as they engage in actions ranging from vernacularization to masquerade. I specifically highlight databasing activities from the Global South that seek to rethink mechanisms of justice, as they go against established templates anchored to ahistorical liberal Western practice. These geopolitical encounters illustrate how techno expertise shape and are mediated by the databases they engender. Attending to datafied mnemopolitics enables a reimagining of the human rights field and its contentious ecology of expertise.

Traditional Open Panel P208
Expert no more? Digital technologies and the transformation of expertise
  Session 2 Friday 19 July, 2024, -