This is a Call for Papers for the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO, USA (November 18-22, 2020), for the following panel:

Panel Title: Entangling data and entangling disciplines: the future of anthropological collaborations with data scientists


Organizers: Roberta Raffaetà (Free University of Bolzano) and Giovanna Santanera (University of Milan-Bicocca)


Discussant: Nick Seaver (Tufts University)


This panel opens a discussion about forms of collaboration between anthropologists and data scientists. Anthropologists have recently turned to the study of data and algorithms, offering critical insights about their production and implementation. They have addressed the effects of algorithmic automation (e.g. increasing surveillance, inequality exacerbation, new forms of discrimination) and conducted fieldwork among data scientists in order to bring the socio-cultural dimensions of their work to the forefront. However, these efforts rarely alter the practices of data science and the boundaries between disciplines have remained durable.


This panel asks: How can anthropology make an impact on data science? Can the relationship between anthropology and data science be reconfigured? How can anthropologists remain, as Marilyn Strathern has suggested, ‘a community of critics’ while also engaging affirmatively with data scientists  and interfering productively with their epistemic practices? Beyond understanding the data scientist’s point of view and destabilizing our own disciplinary habits and assumptions, this panel asks if there may be other ways to collaborate. Is it possible, for example, to set up experiments that straddle disciplinary boundaries and craft shared spaces of practice? How can we facilitate the envisioning of productive, inclusive, just and diverse future scenarios?


Practicing anthropology as a study with people rather than a study of people, this panel welcomes papers that, not only discuss and criticize ‘data cultures,’ but also share experiences and explore and speculate on innovative forms of collaboration between data scientists and anthropologists in various fields (e.g. market analysis, design and development of products and services, computational biology, personalized medicine, epidemiology, engineering etc.).


We invite interested contributors to submit a paper title, abstract (250 words max), current affiliation and contact info to Roberta Raffaetà ( and Giovanna Santanera ( by Wednesday, March 25. Decisions about acceptance of abstracts for this panel will be emailed no later than March 30.




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