Control Societies Speaker Series

Uploaded on 29 Jan 2021

In this talk, given on January 19, 2021 at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Professor and Director of The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia, experiments with an account of the ethical and aesthetical dimensions of electronically-mediated existence. Such an existence increasingly seems fully permeated by and thoroughly configured through the apparatuses that enable global capital to profit from the extraction of attention. In this reading of episodes of the acclaimed British series Black Mirror, she exposes and comments on how, in this global moment, raciality facilitates capital accumulation both economically and ethically, working through the figures of humanity and subjectivity as these play in the series’ dystopian tales. More specifically, although the tales themselves are the focus of the reading, the main move in this exercise is to activate blackness’s capacity to unravel the modern ethical grammar. Ferreira da Silva argues that this move enables the drawing of a transversal line across the various parts that constitutes the apparatus of extraction of affect, so prevalent in today’s global existence, thereby exposing how coloniality and raciality govern the global present.

Uploaded on 27 Feb 2020

On Monday, February 17, 2020, Stephanie Dinkins of Stony Brook University gave a Control Socities lecture at the Annenberg School entitled "Afro-Now-ism: Community, Craft, and the Vernacular in Artificial Intelligence."

Uploaded on 17 Dec 2019

About the Talk

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed, and even deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racist practices of a previous era. In this presentation, I present the concept of the “New Jim Code" to explore a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. We will also consider how race itself is a kind of tool designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology is and can be used toward liberatory ends. This presentation takes us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements, and provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

About Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she studies the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine. She is also the founder of the JUST DATA Lab and the author of two books, People’s Science (Stanford) and Race After Technology (Polity), and editor of Captivating Technology (Duke). She writes, teaches, and speaks widely about the relationship between knowledge and power, race and citizenship, health and justice.

Uploaded on 25 Jul 2018

Control Societies Speaker Series
Lecture Title: "Hayek in the Cloud: Cognitive Conservatism and the Evolution of the Smart City"
Speaker: Elvin Wyly


About Elvin Wyly:
Elvin Wyly is Professor of Geography and Chair of the Urban Studies Coordinating Committee at the University of British Columbia. He studies the relations between market processes and state policy in producing and reinforcing urban social inequalities. His approach blends elements of critical social theory, legal and policy analysis, and multivariate quantitative methods designed to engage state and corporate institutions on their own terrain, with their own data. Current and recent research projects focus on class, racial, and gender discrimination in housing finance in the U.S. urban system; the transformation and financialization of implicit and explicit housing subsidies; the role of transnational financial circuits in the reconfiguration of segregation, displacement, and gentrification; historical and contemporary conflicts between positivist and nonpositivist modes of geographical knowledge production; the quantitative algorithmic evolution of competitive dynamics among and within educational institutions; housing affordability and the evolution of suburban development in Canadian and U.S. cities; the implications of mass social networking for urban and geographical theory; and the cybernetic political epistemologies of resurgent White nationalist racism in Trump’s America.

He has served as Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Urban Geography (2005-2015). Recent publications include “Emplacement and the Dispossessions of Cosmopolitan Capital” (Geoforum), “Gentrification on the Planetary Urban Frontier: The Evolution of Turner’s Noösphere” (Urban Studies), “Make America Housing Great Again” (Housing Policy Debate), and “Planetary Kantsaywhere: Cognitive Capitalist Universities and Accumulation by Cognitive Dispossession” (City).  

About Control Societies:
Control Societies was started as part of the School of Social Policy & Practice’s initiative on Culture, Society, and Critical Policy Studies in order to feature and engage cutting edge scholarship on the enumerating acts of governmentality in computational culture and the incalculable possibilities of justice. For the 2017/2018 academic year, the School of Social Policy & Practice will continue its speaker series in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication, which produces scholarship on the social, cultural, economic, and political implications of digital information and communication technologies, networks, and systems. Through the speaker series, the organizers aim to explore the philosophical foundations of algorithms, data, and their intersections with governmentality, surveillance, social policy, and the reconfiguring of power relations.

Uploaded on 25 Jul 2018

Control Societies Speaker Series
Lecture Title: "The Biosocial Subject: Sensor Technologies and Worldly Sensibility"
Speaker: Liz de Freitas


About Liz de Freitas:
Elizabeth de Freitas is Professor of STEM Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research focuses on philosophical investigations of mathematics, science, and technology, pursuing the implications and applications of this work in the learning sciences. Her recent work examines gesture, sensation, and embodiment in various kinds of mathematical activity, with the aim of developing a new materialist philosophy of mathematics. She also studies the material and social semiotics of STEM classrooms, seeking new research methods that can address biosocial entanglements. de Freitas writes extensively on social science research methodology, exploring alternative ways of engaging with digital data, and developing experimental research methods that draw on speculative computing and inventive diagramming. She has published three books and over fifty chapters and articles on a range of educational topics.  

About Control Societies:
Control Societies was started as part of the School of Social Policy & Practice’s initiative on Culture, Society, and Critical Policy Studies in order to feature and engage cutting edge scholarship on the enumerating acts of governmentality in computational culture and the incalculable possibilities of justice. For the 2017/2018 academic year, the School of Social Policy & Practice will continue its speaker series in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication, which produces scholarship on the social, cultural, economic, and political implications of digital information and communication technologies, networks, and systems. Through the speaker series, the organizers aim to explore the philosophical foundations of algorithms, data, and their intersections with governmentality, surveillance, social policy, and the reconfiguring of power relations.

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