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Message posted on 18/02/2021

Reminder | Call for abstracts: “Digitizing Peoples in Uncertain Times” seminar

                Dear colleagues,

Please find below our call for abstracts for the seminar “Digitizing 
peoples in uncertain times: Interface methods for interventions on 
populations,” organised by the Processing Citizenship ERC project on May 
13th and 14th 2021.

More info is also available on our new website 

For those who are interested in the topic, please submit title, 300-word 
abstracts, author’s name and surname, affiliation and email address to 
no later than March 15th, 2021.

We look forward to receive your contributions,
The Processing Citizenship team


On May 13th and 14th 2021, the Processing Citizenship ERC project 
organizes the seminar “Digitizing peoples in uncertain times: Interface 
methods for interventions on populations”. The seminar aims to address 
the emergent methods used to create data about populations, as well as 
the interventions we as social researchers can develop to create 
alternative epistemic forms about vulnerable, dispersed, invisible or 
just emergent populations.

During “the first pandemic of the datafied society” (Di Salvo and Milan 
2020), pandemic-related contingencies have furthered the already steady 
global demand for fast, reliable and quantifiable methods to create 
knowledge about populations. The production and circulation of data for 
counting population is never neutral, but performative of polities, and 
the COVID-19 pandemic is the last source of uncertainty demanding even 
more digitization of population data.

The performative potential and non-neutral character of data about 
populations suggests two directions of investigation that promise to 
turn out strategic in the post-pandemic sociotechnical 
research landscape. First, it highlights the key role of the methods 
through which knowledge about populations is created. Second, it calls 
for interventions at the interface of social research and social action. 
The seminar’s overarching goal is connecting the Science and Technology 
Studies (STS) and digital sociology methodological debate to critical 
and interventionist studies on the data management of populations. The 
intention is to investigate and reflect on the hybrid (i.e. digital and 
analogue, qualitative and quantitative) interface methods to be 
furthered to study the data-based management of populations.

To this end, the seminar invites scholars to present and discuss in 
several panels these two main threads of investigation. On one hand, 
which methods of knowing populations are being introduced to cope with 
new uncertainties? Shall these methods aim at universality - a common 
claim when it comes to Big Data, or should they come to terms with some 
forms of invisibility? Which new regimes of inclusion/exclusion do they 
introduce? What should fair and just ways of knowing populations 
in security, health, mobility, education, or pandemics encompass? On the 
other hand, what is the role of social scientists, especially those 
engaged with sociotechnologies, in dealing with those methods? What can 
intervening in population management mean for STS scholars? To what 
extent can methods for social research and methods for social action 
overlap? Do we need alternative methods, or maybe we’d better combine 
existing digital and analogue, qualitative and quantitative methods in 
new ways? Which forms of intervention are more suitable to achieve fair 
and just enactment of populations? How can we deploy the principles of 
situated interventions in empirical and often sensitive fields?

These are some of the questions the seminar tries to address thanks to 
the participation of world-class keynote speakers, as well as by openly 
inviting participants to submit their research to one of the panels.

  Confirmed keynotes

_Noortje Marres_, Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary 
Methodologies, University of Warwick._

_Teun Zuiderent-Jerak_, Associate Professor of Interactive Governance of 
Health Interventions, Free University Amsterdam.

  *Submissions guidelines*

Please submit title, 300-word abstracts, author’s name and surname, 
affiliation and email address to 

_Deadline_: March 15th, 2021

_Notification of acceptance_: March 30^th , 2021

/We expect to be able to select around 15 papers. /

  *Conference settings*

Given the continuing pandemic, the Seminar will be held mainly or 
exclusively online. Should the possibility to (partially) convert it 
into a modality in presence arise by March 2021, the seminar venue will 
be the University of Bologna. In this case, travel costs for accepted 
participants to the panels who prefer to attend in person will be 
covered by the Processing Citizenship project. No fee requested.

  *More info about seminar rationale and themes* 

/Event organized with the patronage of the Alma Mater Research Institute 
for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence 

/This project has received funding from the European Research Council 
(ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation 
programme under grant agreement No 714463/


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