Data Colonialism

The abundance of trace data enables “back-end” construction and categorization of knowledge, predicating new power regimes that operate through digital instruments. In this line of research, I apply critical theory to understand the social implications of algorithmic governance. My specific interest lies in researching the emerging domain of data colonialism – particularly the processes that underlie the production of “calculated publics” aiming to manipulate the behavior of individuals and groups that leave datafied traces online. Following recent work from Couldry and Mejias (2018), Halavais (2018) and Noble (2018), I seek to illuminate the profound and disturbing implications of algorithmic personalization of search engine results in non-Western contexts, particularly on what has been known as the Russian web (runet).

Geopolitics of Reproduction: Investigating Technological Mediation of Maternity Tourism on the Russian Web
(Boichak, O.) – in this article, I use infrastructure ethnography to study the role of digital media in the emergence of networked publics that drive maternity tourism from Russia to the United States. Awarded with a top paper award at the 69th Annual Conference of International Communication Association (ICA), and published with Big Data & Society.

Justice Matters: Racializing Data Colonialism (Boichak, O., Orr, J.) – in this project, we situate race within the present-day data colonialism. Working from a long history of scholarship on colonialism as a racist social and economic formation, we theorize on the meaning of decolonial practices in the age of ubiquitous datafication. Presented at Theorizing the Web 2019, Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, NY.