Using Data to Advance Belonging without Othering

Data is powerful, allowing crucial information about the prevailing social and material realities of our world to be conveyed. It can be used to advance very different and sometimes opposing goals. Indeed, data is often leveraged to identify issues, highlight disparities, and advance solutions to pressing social problems and may even be used by social movements to empower organizing efforts and articulate the theretofore underrepresented and unarticulated social problems of their base – this represents a utilization of data ‘from below’.

However, certain actors and institutions routinely use data to propagate violence, exacerbate othering across myriad social classifications, and reify and make anew the preexisting conditions of inequality and resource maldistribution that are pervasive in the world (a hegemonic reinscription through data). Information is a resource, and insofar as that resource exists, it is often used by those with power to reinscribe existing relations of power.

In this panel, we survey a set of domains at the interstice of data and civil society: racialized policing and surveillance (Stop LAPD Spying Coalition), housing and eviction (Anti-Eviction Mapping Project), and belonging metrics (Othering & Belonging Institute). Taking these important problem spaces as a starting point, this panel seeks to generate a productive dialogue where the specific might intersect with the burgeoning general on the topic of data and belonging/othering. We posit that understanding how data can be both used and misused is critical for creating a world of belonging without othering.

Location: OMCA lecture hall

Friday, April 26, 2024