Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Talking Points Seminar: A Black Sense of Place: On Algorithms and Curiosities

Start: Apr 24, 2017 05:45 PM
End: Apr 24, 2017 08:00 PM

Location: IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building

Katherine McKittrick Image

We are pleased to share an invitation to this IAS Talking Points Seminar which is co-hosted by the UCL Geography Department. This talk will be given by Katherine McKittrick (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada) and will be followed by by two short responses from Dhanveer Singh Brar (UCL) and Robbie Shilliam (QMUL).  


This paper explores predictive algorithms, and thinks about how data collection and data output is, a priori, linked to racial violence and a black sense of place. The discussion looks specifically at how black life is absent from the classificatory algorithms that are applied to statistically organize our world.  This absence affirms how the premature death of black people, and, more broadly, the dysselection of the world’s most vulnerable communities, is entrenched in algorithmic equations. The paper is not, though, preoccupied with black premature death.  Instead, it wonders how black life can be understood in relation to—if outside of—organizing systems that predict black death.  What the paper struggles to think about, then, is twofold: that premature death is an algorithmic variable; that black life is outside algorithmic logics altogether.  The concern is therefore, broadly, methodological:  how do we come to and formulate answers and what do we want from these solutions, politically?  How might a black sense of place rethink the demand to track and know, absolutely, blackness? What if black life opens up question marks and unanswerable curiosities?

Katherine McKittrick teaches and researches in the areas of black studies, anti-colonial studies, cultural geographies and gender studies. Her work is interdisciplinary and attends to the links between epistemological narrative, liberation, and creative text. Katherine is the author of Demonic Grounds: black women and the cartographies of struggle (2006, Minnesota), and coeditor (with Clyde Woods) of Black Geographies and the Politics of Place (2007, Between the Lines Press). Katherine also researches the writings of Sylvia Wynter, and has recently edited the volume Sylvia Wynter: on being human as praxis (2015, Duke). She is an editor at Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography and co-edits the Duke University Press book series Errantries

Speaker: Katherine McKittrick (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

Respondents: Dhanveer Singh Brar (UCL) and Robbie Shilliam (QMUL)

All welcome.
Please register here