• Cult-K: Covid-19, Data, and Colonialism

    (Ulises Ali Mejias, SUNY Oswego)

    Open to all students. Weeks 1, M/W/F at 12 noon (EDT)

    Beyond the effects of Covid-19 on human health, invasive data extraction practices during the pandemic are having a negative impact on the privacy, security and well-being of individuals, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Presumably introduced as temporary emergency measures, these data extraction practices can become permanent means of tracking, exploiting and discriminating against us. From quarantine apps, to workplace and school surveillance mechanisms, to the use of AI by the police, to unregulated platforms that spread disinformation, corporations and states are taking advantage of this crisis to experiment with new means of social control, acquiring unprecedented power in the process. In this course, students will apply the concept of "data colonialism" (Couldry and Mejias, 2019) to make sense of these developments in a larger historical context. Students will also debate whether surrendering our data in order to fight Covid-19 is justified.