Contentious Data: A one-day event on the Politics of Big Data for Activism

Contentious Data: A one-day event on the Politics of Big Data for Activism

University Theatre, University of Amsterdam, September 15, 2016

How do people resist corporate privacy intrusion and government surveillance by means of technical fixes? How does civil society take advantage of the possibilities for civic engagement, advocacy, and campaigning provided by the availability of the so-called ‘big data’? Contentious Data is the kick-off event of the DATACTIVE project (, an interdisciplinary research project hosted at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. DATACTIVE investigates citizens’ engagement with massive data collection. With the diffusion of big data, citizens become increasingly aware of the critical role of information in modern societies. This awareness nurtures new social practices rooted on data and technology, which we term ‘data activism’. By increasingly involving ordinary users, data activism is a signal of a change in perspective and attitude towards massive data collection emerging within the civil society realm. Contentious Data will bring together scholars and practitioners to explore the politics of big data from the perspective of civil society and grassroots activism.


Contentious Data is sponsored by the European Research Council (ERC), the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS), the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). Participation is free of charge, but you must RSVP on our website: The University Theatre is located in Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station.



10.00-10.30 Welcome and introduction by Stefania Milan (DATACTIVE Principal Investigator)

10.30-11.30 Keynote: Sandra Braman (Texas A&M)

11.30-12.30 Keynote: Alison Powell (LSE)

12.30-14.00 lunch break

14.00-15.30 Roundtable ‘Promises and Perils of Data Activism’

o        Miren Gutierrez (Universidad del Deusto)

o        Hisham al-Miraat (Digital Rights Morocco)

o        Linnet Taylor (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society)

o        Dorien Zandbergen (University of Amsterdam)

15.30-16.00 break

16.00-17.00 Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures) in conversation with Denis Rojo aka Jaromil (Dyne)


The event will be followed by a by-invitation-only session on September 16, with the participation of (in order of appearance) Evelyn Ruppert (Goldsmiths), Seda Guerses (Princeton University), Melanie Rieback (Radically Open Security), Vladan Joler (Share Labs), Renata Avila (Centre for Internet and Human Rights), Emanuel Didier (UCLA/CNRS), Jennifer Gabrys (Goldsmiths), Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam), Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine), and David Berry (University of Sussex). Limited seating available (please inquire with


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