Week 3 Response

For Week 3, I list here the things I read for my own project and some other comments from the articles on W E B Dubois and race. For my own project I have been reading along the lines of caste/race and its enumeration within digital technologies for the purposes of vocational training and employment specifically. Prof Philip had sent me her paper on the revival of the caste/tribe census in India and how its assembling might shape pervasive information infrastructures and public life at large.

A quote from her paper:

“The power of technological infrastructures to shape human practices becomes more powerful over time, because after the debates, discussions, and conflicts that accompany their initial shaping and acceptance have been resolved, and the consensus institutionalized or instrumentalized in a bureaucratic form, these assumptions — full of the politics and social norms of their time — become invisible, sliding into the background of everyday bureaucratic information systems.”

It got me thinking about non-human agents (namely infrastructure) as political agents albeit not in an object-oriented ontology way but in the sense that racist monuments, badly built bridges, locked doors are extremely powerful mediating objects that long outlive their makers and original projects. And as Bowker and Star and Philip say (I am paraphrasing), the sheer act of infrastructuring is one of shaping the possibilities of racial, caste and gendered futures. I want to think more about this as we proceed.

From Dubois articles:

“Say what we will of England’s rapacity and injustice, (and much can be said) the plain fact remains that no other European nation—and America least of all—has governed its alien subjects with half the wisdom and justice that England has. While then the advance of England from the cape to Cairo is no unclouded good for our people, it is at least a vast improvement on Arab slave traders and Dutch brutality”

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