It is now over a decade since the proclamation of a humanitarian “data revolution”, with the rise of humanitarian “innovation” and the proliferation of “data solutions” rendering data-based humanitarianism an important area of critical investigation. This talk contributes to debates within the field by exploring the role of data in the provision of humanitarian assistance in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across north-eastern Nigeria and South Sudan. It draws on qualitative interviews carried out with humanitarian practitioners specialising in data and information management, as well as with camp residents and stakeholders located in each region. The analysis focuses attention on the ways in which epistemic injustices have been further perpetuated by the ‘data revolution’, due to the intensification of paternalistic dynamics associated with the coloniality of humanitarianism. It shows how logics of extractivism and dispossession structure the humanitarian data ecosystem, while generating a series of tensions and disagreements. Data-driven humanitarianism, the talk concludes, is characterised by recurring colonial dynamics as well as intensified frictions that bring epistemic injustices into sharper focus.
About the speaker
Vicki Squire is Professor of International Politics at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. Her research explores the politics of migration, displacement, asylum and solidarity activism across various contexts. She is author of several books, including Reclaiming Migration (co-author, 2021), Europe’s Migration Crisis (2020), Post/Humanitarian Border Politics Between Mexico and the US (2015), The Contested Politics of Mobility (Editor, 2011) and The Exclusionary Politics of Asylum (2009).