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Saturday, February 29 • 4:00pm - 5:15pm
Mapping Connecticut’s Civil Rights History and the Biopolitics of Big Data

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Chair: Andrew Lopez

Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, Kaytlin Ernske, Sophia Lopez, Jack Dougherty, "Mapping Connecticut’s Civil Rights History"
How can we engage the public and deepen understanding of Connecticut’s civil rights history by designing interactive web maps? What challenges arise when storytelling emphasizes the spatial dimension? What opportunities emerge when interactive maps reveal insights unseen in conventional text or static images? Panelists will discuss how they address these questions, and demonstrate different approaches to answering them through their digital humanities projects.

Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens (Trinity ‘13), Director of Operations at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, partnered with students Kaytlin Ernske (Trinity ‘20) and Sophia Lopez (Trinity ‘22) through the Public Humanities Collaborative at Trinity College, and Ilya Ilyankou (Trinity ‘18) at the CT Data Collaborative. Together they created a storymap, “Urban Renewal in Windham: Willimantic’s Lost Neighborhood,” which explores how urban renewal transformed downtown Willimantic in the 1960s and ‘70s. The storymap is designed to illuminate the effects of aggressive urban renewal and highlight the impact of discriminatory housing policies. The students worked with the Connecticut Studies collection at the Eastern Connecticut State University, Towne Engineering, INC, members of the city council, the Willimantic Town Hall, the Mill Museum, and Willimantic residents to collect public records, newspapers, maps, municipal policy documents, public meeting minutes, and photo archives. See https://www.ctfairhousing.org/fair-housing-tour/willimantic-urban-renewal/, and related CFHC storymaps “Urban renewal in New London CT” https://www.ctfairhousing.org/new-london-urban-renewal-tour/, and the “Hartford Fair Housing Tour,” https://www.ctfairhousing.org/fair-housing-tour/hartford-fair-housing-history-tour/.

Also, Trinity professor Jack Dougherty will demonstrate newer maps that he and Ilyankou have created to illuminate historical change for the open-access book, On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs (http://OnTheLine.trincoll.edu).

Stefan Kehlenbach, "
The Biopolitics of Big Data"
This paper argues that  the connection between neoliberalism and big data should be understood as a project of biopolitics, with the result of dividing sovereignty between public institutions and private corporations. Understanding the impact and ongoing influence of Big Data on neoliberalism and populism is necessary for understanding our society. I argue that Big Data is more than a methodology, it is a societal rationality, that supplements and reinforces the political rationality of neoliberalism. An outcome of the neoliberal-Big Data project is the development of a corporate biopolitics which allows corporations to participate in the neoliberal governmentality and not merely be subject to it.  I argue that we should understand this connection through the lens of biopolitics, as defined by Michel Foucault. For Foucault, biopolitics involves “an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugation of bodies and the control of populations,” (Foucault 1990). Understanding Big Data as a project of biopolitics means that we fully grapple with the political and social implications of its use in society. This reveals the danger in Facebook assuming the role of the public square and controlling political discourse, and Google providing public goods for society. In doing so they create multiple sovereignties within society, diluting and modifying the formal power of the state. This allows for citizenship itself to be redefined. The scholarship surrounding neoliberalism shows how market participation becomes the requirement for public citizenship. However, in this new Big Data biopolitics, individuals are not participants in the market but commodities. This connection between neoliberal market logic and the biopolitics of Big Data fundamentally redefines our own understandings of what it means to be a participating citizen in political society. 


Jack Dougherty

Trinity College

Kaytlin Ernske

Trinity College

Sophia Lopez

Trinity College

Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens

CT Fair Housing Center

Stefan Kehlenbach

UC Riverside

Saturday February 29, 2020 4:00pm - 5:15pm EST
1823 Room