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“A Hauntology on Data: Diffracting Specters of Racialization Toward an Autopoietic Turn/Overturn”

As Avery Gordon (1997) reminds us, there are already ghosts or hauntings in the seemingly present; what might be understood as an absence of presence, and a complex history and subjectivities. Indeed, the haunting demands sociopolitical significance as Derrida (1994) cogently states it “is necessary to speak of the ghost, indeed to the ghost and with it” … “in the name of justice.” In this talk, Dr. Dixon-Román will begin by providing some theoretical articulations of, to, and with, the ghosts of data assemblages. While in the computational turn there has been increasingly more theorizing on data (de Freitas, Dixon-Román, & Lather, 2016; Gitelman, 2013; Kitchin, 2014), few have focused their examination on the sociopolitical forces imbued in data. In recent work, Dixon-Román (in press) has engaged Sylvia Wynter’s (2001, 2007) theories of power, inheritance, and the human in order to theoretically examine and postulate the ways in which the assemblages of data become haunted by sociopolitical relations of racialization. Dixon-Román will engage, in this talk, new materialisms and black literary feminists in order to develop a process of social inquiry that conjures and speaks of, to, and with the ghosts of data assemblages in order to move toward address/redress and reconstitute the human.

Dr. Ezekiel Dixon-Román is an associate professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarship focuses on the cultural studies of education, quantification, and social policy. He maintains a program of research that philosophically rethinks and reconceptualizes the use of quantitative methods from a critical theoretical lens (broadly conceived), particularly for the study of the biopolitics of human learning and development. Dr. Dixon-Román has published in leading social science, education, and cultural studies journals such as The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Transforming Anthropology, Urban Education, Teachers College Record, and Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies. Dr. Dixon-Román co-edited Thinking Comprehensively About Education: Spaces of Educative Possibility and Their Implications for Public Policy (Routledge, 2012), “Alternative Ontologies of Number: Rethinking the Quantitative in Computational Culture” (Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies, 2016), and “The computational turn in education research: Critical and creative perspectives on the digital data deluge” (Research in Education, 2017). He’s also the author of Inheriting Possibility: Social Reproduction & Quantification in Education (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

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