Orfalea Center Thematic Research Cluster

Social Data and the Archive: Rethinking the Politics of Knowledge Production

This cluster ties two related sites of knowledge, social data and archives, in one frame of analysis. We are interested in bringing together different kinds of knowledge producers to explore the promises and potential of democracy through archives and data. Additionally, this research cluster studies how archives and social data are sites for globally informed anti-racist scholarship and critical writing.  

Probing the relationship between information and freedom, we aim to interrogate how digitization of archives, accessibility, and empowered political organizing can advance popular sovereignty. While cognizant of how statistics have been useful vehicles for representing local and global inequities and state-making ambitions, we are also interested in the use of quantitative data  by social movements, worker unions, and environmental activists. Collectives and organizations that use statistics as a political tool to expose and transform unequal and oppressive conditions remind us of the importance of socialized data. 

 The socialization of research data through democratic and collaborative practices are also critical to recognizing activists and organizers as knowledge producers. However, both processes can also be implicated in regimes of information and surveillance. Such  double  edges  only  highlight  the  importance  of  the  contexts  and  politics  of counter-reading and data democracy. As we learn from movements using data and archives to make political claims, we remain vigilant and curious about the challenges these new modes of making and distributing information have generated for activists, scholars, and journalists.

Summary of Research Resources

Video Publication: “Migratory Processes, Activism, and Social Data (Spanish)”
Aldo Jorge Ledón Pereyra (a member of Voces Mesoamericanas), Edition by Gerardo Rodriguez Solis

A short video about the creation of knowledge as part and as a result of political actions in favor of migrants. The purpose is to share nonacademic experiences about the uses of social data and its importance to social change. Any person interested in migration, activism, and epistemological processes will find it useful to watch this short video.