#rp24 speakers Ulises A. Mejias & Nick Couldry: Data Grab

17.04.2024 - The researchers will speak about the new Colonialism of Big Tech – and how we can fight back.
Two photographs of Ulises and Nick. Both are wearing glasses and look friendly.
Photo Credit
Ulises A. Mejias © Amy Moore, Nick Couldry © privat

Do the extractive practices of today's tech giants represent a new stage of colonialism? This is what Ulises A. Mejias and Nick Couldry discuss in their new book, the German translation of which will be launched during re:publica 24!

In “Data Grab: The New Colonialism of Big Tech and How to Fight Back”, they argue that today's tech corporations have engineered an extractive form of doing business that builds an unjust social and economic order, leads to job precarity, and degrades the environment. Like the land grabs of the past, today's data grab converts our data into raw material for the generation of corporate profit against our own interests, as can be seen in the case of AI and particularly generative AI.

The role that data plays in contemporary power relations is not only a development of capitalism but also represents a new colonial phase in human history that rivals in importance the emergence of historic colonialism. But resistance is possible. To defy this new form of data colonialism, we must learn from previous forms of anti-colonial resistance and work together to imagine entirely new ones. In their #rp24 session, Ulises and Nick will discuss how this data colonialism can be resisted through collective action and new acts of imagination.

Ulises A. Mejias is professor of Communication Studies at SUNY Oswego and co-founder of Tierra Común, a network of activists, educators and scholars working towards the decolonization of data. He also serves on the board of Humanities New York.

Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and since 2017 Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Nick is also co-founder of the Tierra Común network.

At re:publica 21, Nick Couldry discussed with Bart de Witte how digitalisation is transforming our bodies and public health systems – and why we need to look at data differently. At #rp24, we look forward to inspiring conversations on the topic of data colonialism with Ulises and Nick.