Episode 5: Data & Racial Capitalism

How have data-centric systems perpetuated racial capitalism, and how have different communities, particularly in the global South, resisted this datafication?

In the final episode of our podcast season “Becoming Data,” scholars Sareeta Amrute and Emiliano Treré join our host, Natalie Kerby, to discuss the concept and lived reality of racial capitalism. The episode explores how data-centric systems perpetuate racial capitalism, and how different communities, particularly in the global South, have resisted this datafication.



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View a transcript of the episode here.


Our guests

  • Sareeta Amrute is an anthropologist, associate professor at the University of Washington, and Director of Research at Data & Society.
  • Emiliano Treré is a senior lecturer in Media Ecologies and Social Transformation and codirector of the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University.
  • Natalie Kerby, this season’s host, is a media producer, editor, and researcher who works at the intersection of human rights, digital media, and technology. Currently, she is the digital-content associate at Data & Society, and a volunteer at Interference Archive, an archive of social movements where she coproduces the podcast series Audio Interference.

Further reading

  • Sareeta Amrute, Encoding Race, Encoding Class: an Ethnography of Indian IT Workers in Berlin (Duke University Press, 2016)
  • Sareeta Amrute “Immigrant Sensibilities in Tech Worlds: Sensing Hate, Capturing Dissensus,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 35, no. 3 (2020)
  • Sareeta Amrute and Luis Felipe R. Murillo, “Introduction: Computing in/from the South,” Catalyst, vol. 6, no. 2 (2020) 
  • Arjun Appadurai, “Number in the Colonial Imagination,” in Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia, edited by Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)
  • David Beer, The Data Gaze: Capitalism, Power, and Perception (SAGE, 2018)
  • Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2015)
  • Stefania Milan, Emiliano Treré, and Silvia Masiero, eds., COVID-19 from the Margins (Institute of Network Cultures, 2021)
  • Nick Dyer-Witheford, Atle Mikkola Kjøsen, and James Steinhoff, Inhuman Power: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism (Pluto, 2019)
  • Arturo Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse (Duke University Press, 2018)
  • Nick Estes, Our History Is the Future (Verso, 2019)
  • Yarden Katz, Artificial Whiteness: Politics and Ideology in Artificial Intelligence (Columbia University Press, 2020)
  • Simone Natale and Emiliano Treré, “Vinyl Won’t Save Us: Reframing Disconnection as Engagement,” Media, Culture, and Society, vol. 42, no. 4 (2020)
  • Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, 2nd. ed. (University of North Carolina Press, 2000)
  • Emiliano Treré, Hybrid Media Activism: Ecologies, Imaginaries, Algorithms (Routledge, 2019)
Featured image by Yichi Liu