Riddle me DATA: Science, Anthro & the Future/Past of BIG Knowledge

Society for Applied Anthropology 2016 Call for Papers

A riddle is a puzzle characterized by veiled, double or multiple meanings. What riddles are posed for anthropologists, the consummate scientific outsiders, by the increasing interdisciplinarity of Big Data science? Originally, disciplinary divisions were driven by a mix of three imperatives: 1) to protect unique epistemological perspectives; 2) to foster distinct methodologies; and 3) to cultivate specialized knowledge. But today, knowledge is being transformed by the rise of the data sciences, which have an omnivorous appetite for information and a relatively agnostic view as to its’ philosophical underpinnings. Data is data, and everyone from scientists to ad agencies want a piece of it.

This panels aims to tell stories - historical, contemporary, or futuristic/imaginary - of the mixing of paradigms and epistemologies that occur when different kinds of data are combined for BIG analysis.

They might address:

  • Methodological clashes - what is evidence, observation, validity, ethics?
  • Meanings of experience - what is stress, poverty, culture, environment, hunger, care?
  • The analytic - what is significant, relevant, representative, publishable or secret?
  • The technical - who controls information, defines data, manipulates variables?

Data science moves fast and the conversation about its implications for applied anthropologists especially needs to be ongoing as well.

To join in this conversation, please send abstracts of 100 words or less and a short bio to b.hanna@neu.edu by October 11th, 2016.